It’s two weeks into Olivia Hartland-Robbins 12-week body transformation and she has already dropped over two kilos, 3cm off her hips and 2.8 per cent body fat
Welcome back to my body transformation diary. It’s time to reveal how I got on in week two (read all about how week one went here).
I have been on such a high all week after finding out I had lost 1.5 per cent of body fat in just one week. I am already amazed just how different I feel after making just a few small changes to my daily routine and diet.
I have more energy, I feel happier (if this is even possible because I am always annoyingly happy), I can get out of bed without hitting snooze and I am feeling super motivated ALL of the time. Plus, I’m quite astonished at how much the body changes when you manage to cut out all the bad stuff, my bloating has gone down and my clothes already have a bit of give in them rather than pulling at the seams.
My personal trainer Mark Stanton, joint head of training and development at Transition Zone (Instagram: @insidetrack_pt), also seemed pleased with my results.
It’s great that I did well in week one – but most people do right? They are trying something new, they are motivated and they haven’t hit any road blocks yet that could cause them to give up. Now it was time for week two and I’ll be honest one of my biggest concerns is sticking to the whole healthy eating thing and avoiding the alcohol.
Operation lose body fat
My goal was body-fat loss. I didn’t want to get to the end of the transformation and see that my body-fat percentage had barely changed.
Body fat is the actual weight of fat in your body. But it’s not all bad, body fat is vital to your basic bodily functions such as regulating body temperature, for fuel, storing vitamins, protecting your joints and cushions vital organs. The lower your body fat the lower your risk of health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Before I started my transformation, as well as discussing my goals with Mark I also had a consultation with nutritionist Emma Bardwell. After filling out a questionnaire about my diet habits and overall health, Emma (Instagram: @emma.bardwell) sent me a detailed nutrition plan of dos and don’ts for the next 12 weeks to achieve my fat loss goals.
Transition Zone believes that when it comes to health and well-being one size doesn’t fit all. They tailor programmes to fit each client’s individual requirements in order to get them exactly where they want to be, and this includes a detailed nutrition and lifestyle plan.
I started at 27 per cent body fat, I am now 24.2 per cent and my goal is around 17 per cent.
Going below what is considered the essential body fat percentage of 3-5 percent in men and 10-13 percent in women, is the level at which physical and physiological health would be negatively affected.
Maintaining a healthy body fat for women is crucial in terms of hormone production and menstrual health. In fact, women who have a body fat that is too low can negatively affect your periods or stop them all together.
Comparatively, women who have a body fat percentage above 32 percent are considered overweight, this number is slightly less in men at 25 percent. The average body fat percentage for women is 25-31 percent (18-24 percent for men) and 16-25 per cent body fat is optimal for women.
Often your body fat percentage is a better goal to strive toward rather than your weight because what you weigh on the scales doesn’t necessarily show how healthy or unhealthy you are.
And of course, body fat loss isn’t just going to come from exercise, a huge percentage of it actually comes from what you put in your mouth before and after you exercise, with a calorie balance or deficit.
So what is it I need to be eating to help me lose body fat?
My food targets
On workout days: 1,600 calories per day, 90 grams protein per day (380 calories)
Eg: 100g of FAGE yoghurt (10 grams protein), 2 eggs (12g protein), one medium chicken breast (35 grams protein), one medium salmon steak (30 grams protein).
Non workout days: 1,500 calories per day, 80 grams of protein per day (330 calories)
(These food targets were based on my body measurements and BMR, and so may not be suitable for others to follow).
Here’s what I ate this week:
– Training day
– Training day
– Training day
|Breakfast||8am Transition Zone protein shake.
11am FAGE yoghurt, blueberries, pumpkin seeds & almond butter.
|11am FAGE yoghurt, blueberries, pumpkin seeds & almond butter.||8am Transition Zone protein shake.
11am FAGE yoghurt, strawberries and almonds x4
|8am Transition Zone protein shake.||10am Scrambled eggs x2 with wilted spinach, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.||11am Yoghurt with granola and half a banana.||10am Yoghurt with granola and half a banana.|
|Lunch||2pm Tinned tuna with boiled carrots and mashes swede.||2pm Chicken, boiled broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.||3pm Chicken salad with sweetcorn, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and spinach.||2pm Turkey steak with broccoli, cooked tomatoes and mushrooms.||3pm Yoghurt with pineapple and almonds x6||2pm Protein shake||1pm Mini hot cross bun with butter (Oops)|
|Dinner||8pm Shakshuka (See video for recipe)||8pm Salmon with asparagus, roasted cherry tomatoes.||7pm Chicken and avocado salad at Byron Burger.||8pm Homemade bolognese sauce with spiralised courgetti.||8:30pm Salmon with asparagus, broccoli and new potatoes.||8pm Lasagne with salad.||8pm A roast dinner without the potatoes and gravy!!!|
|Snack||4pm Clementine, almonds x4||4pm Almonds x8||5pm Protein shake||4pm almonds x8||5pm Cucumber and reduced fat humous.||3pm Yellow pepper with reduced fat humous.||4pm Cucumber and reduced fat humous.|
|Drinks||Green tea x1, water.||Green tea x2, water, peppermint tea before bed.||Water||Peppermint tea and water.||Coffee x1
Some of my food choices are SERIOUSLY boring and I really have become one of those chicken and broccoli gym people. But honestly, I am so busy during the day to even care that I am eating plain chicken and veg. As long as it fills the hole I am happy.
Obviously in the long run eating just chicken and veg isn’t sustainable, for anyone, but for now I am taking this transformation very seriously so am happy to be stricter than life would normally allow.
Dinner is different though as this is the meal I take my time to eat and enjoy, so obviously I want it to be delicious like this Shakshuka I made:
8 rules that have helped me say no to naughty stuff
Rule #1 Eat, drink, live protein
Emma suggested that I aim to eat 90 grams of protein on the days that I am working out. Which should be easy considering one medium chicken breast contains 35 grams of protein, 100g of FAGE yoghurt contains 10 grams of protein, one medium salmon steak contains 30 grams of protein and one boiled egg contains 6 grams – totally doable.
Protein is absolutely essential to the human body because it contains amino acids that are the building blocks of all our cells, that our bodies can’t make on their own. Protein foods include all types of meat, poultry, eggs, dairy (yoghurt) and fish, but also vegetarian sources such as tofu and tempeh, lentils and pulses, beans and nuts.
Protein also helps the body to build lean muscle tissue and it gives the body shape, which is great when you’re training hard because it means you don’t get any muscle wasting, but instead are constantly fuelling your muscles to shape and grow.
Another key benefit of protein at each meal is because it helps keep you fuller for longer. This is because protein foods are thermogenic, meaning that simply digesting them takes longer and uses up more calories than say, carbohydrates eaten alone. That means having protein at each meal and snack translates to fewer calories between eating opportunities.
- Protein keeps you fuller for longer and therefore stops cravings.
- Protein helps to balance our blood sugar levels which aids energy balance.
- And of course protein is crucial for muscle recovery and building.
Rule #2 Limit caffeine
I love coffee. Like really love coffee. But over the past few months I have noticed that although having a coffee satisfies me there and then, a few hours later it actually makes me feel hungrier and more fatigued. Because of this I now only have coffee two to three times a week as a treat, and Emma says this is a good idea.
To maintain a good mood and sustain your energy levels you should ‘avoid blood sugar spikes as these are always followed by the inevitable dips that can include feeling rubbish, being tired, lashing out or dreaming of a nap.’ explains Emma.
Nutritionists are always stressing the importance of ‘balancing blood sugars’ as that’s the foundation of a healthy diet. Avoiding the triggers that result in these surges and dips that cause symptoms such as anxiety, dizziness and cravings.
Caffeine is essentially a stimulant that will induce a stress response as it releases the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn releases sugar into our blood. Although you will enjoy a short-term energy boost, your body will quickly register no actual energy requirement whilst drinking this coffee and therefore no requirement for this sugar. Insulin is then released to remove the sugar and you will soon be left feeling tired, lethargic, sleepy and irritable.
Rule #3 Opt for herbal teas
With trying to limit my caffeine intake in the forefront of my mind, I opted to fill the ‘void’ by drinking more herbal tea instead. I have always been a green tea drinker (we are all OBSESSED at Healthista HQ), but of course green tea still contains caffeine.
Emma advised that I don’t have any caffeinated drinks after 12pm so that they don’t interfere with my sleep routine. I have been having two normal green teas in the morning and then decaf green tea or water throughout the rest of the day.
I have found peppermint tea to be my secret weapon to stop cravings
After dinner or before bed though, I have found peppermint tea to be my secret weapon. Drinking peppermint tea after dinner has put a stop to my cravings for the sweet stuff – a miracle I know.
Of course, it’s still difficult to sit there and watch my brother eat vanilla cheesecake and my parents munching their way through a family sized chocolate bar, but the smell and act of drinking the peppermint tea has definitely helped to subside the sweet cravings.
That’s not all mint tea is good for. Not just a garnish for your mojito either, eating and drinking mint is great for our health, but mint can also be inhaled, applied to the skin or taken as a capsule. It triggers the mouth to produce more saliva and digestive enzymes which hugely helps with digestion and IBS symptoms too.
Rule #4 Use an app or write down what you have eaten that day
Tracking calories and macros can be tedious, and frankly it can take the whole joy out of eating. However, calorie tracking can be extremely beneficial. Using calorie counting apps such as MyFitnessPal, teaches you to be aware of exactly what you’re eating and shows you how much of certain things you should be having.
Take cheese for example, people definitely eat more cheese than portion sizes suggest. If you were to track your usual portion of cheese on a calorie counting app, you would probably gasp in horror at just how many calories a small amount of cheese has added to your daily calories, and I bet it wouldn’t have even filled you up.
By tracking calories even if only for a short period of time, you will learn what portion sizes you should and shouldn’t be having to avoid gaining any extra weight.
Those ‘one off’ biscuits and snacks can add up to a lot of calories
You will also come to notice that you can load a plate full of salad and veggies and have barely hit 200 calories, and I can guarantee you’ll feel far more full after that than after some cheese on toast…
New recommendations now suggest that your daily fruit and veg intake should be ten portions and not five. Emma suggests that I should aim to ‘eat the rainbow’ and look to eat as much of a variety of fruit and veg as possible. By doing this your gut will love the fibre and thrive off the diversity of plant based foods.
Emma did warn however that my gut will need to get used to the increased amount of fibre, so I should try to build this up slowly, stay hydrated and eat my food slowly.
If you truly don’t have time to track your calories or protein via an app, you can opt for an easier version – just write it down in a diary or journal. I have been doing this everyday.
It makes you realise that you can actually forget all the little things you have eaten throughout the day. Like that biscuit your colleague offered you. Those ‘one off’ biscuits and snacks can add up to a lot of calories. By writing them down it makes it easier to say no the next time you are offered anything.
Rule #5 Eat slowly and mindfully for at least one meal a day
This particular life style change has been far more challenging than I thought it would be.
Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you snack on the go? Do you chow down on a croissant as you run to catch your morning tube? I bet you said yes to at least one of those. In fact, the other day I saw a woman eating porridge on the tube – yes porridge!
I am guilty of this too (not the porridge) but eating on the go and eating at my desk. I eat breakfast and lunch at my desk whilst I work and I see many others mindlessly snacking as they tap away at the phones or keyboards.
That means, no phones, no TV and no rushing, enjoy your food slowly
Try to spend at least one meal a day eating slowly and mindfully. That means, no phones, no TV and no rushing, enjoy your food slowly. By taking the time to enjoy your food with no technology we are actually able to digest our food properly. To digest food properly your body needs to be relaxed and not in fight or flight mode.
Plus, eating slowly will give your brain the time to register that you have eaten food, instead of eating so quickly that you grab for seconds because your brain hasn’t told your tummy that you are full!
The first part of the digestive process actually starts in the mouth. Try and chew your food 15-20 times to help the enzymes break down the food.
Rule #6 Eat or drink one portion of fermented food a day
Emma suggested that I try to include one portion of fermented food a day. The process of fermenting foods is the bacterial conversion of sugars and starches to acids, usually using a salt solution. This process encourages the good bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish, making fermented food a good source of good bacteria or probiotic.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir are some of the more known foods that have become increasingly popular in recent years.
But there are also so many more common foods that are also fermented such as tea, bread, cheese and yoghurt. You are probably already eating some of these foods and getting some live bacteria.
Essentially, good gut health is fundamental to our overall health and many health problems can be alleviated if you optimise the efficiency of your gut (improving the balance of gut bacteria and ensuring a healthy gut flora or microbiome).
Types of fermented food include:
Rule #7 Remember your goals and just say NO
I know this is going to sound so annoyingly obvious, but just say no. Train your mental strength.
‘Oh Olivia it’s only a slice’, ‘that one biscuit won’t hurt’, ‘just treat yourself, you’ve done so well’, ‘just have one they wont know’ – these are all things family and friends have actually said to me since I started. But the truth is, I will know.
You know when your friend offers you crisps or popcorn or some chocolate and you say yes and then all of a sudden you have helped them polish off the whole bag? Because once you have one you can’t stop.
Remind yourself of why you are making healthy choices. Whether it’s to lose weight or fat or just make healthier choices. Constantly remind yourself why. That way saying no will become far easier, and actually the more you say no the easier it gets – trust me.
Of course, I’m not saying you have to say no every time – what sort of life would that be? But if you do have a healthy goal in mind, remind yourself of that goal.
Week two: the challenges
Just like the first week, the challenge I faced this week yet again revolved around food. On Wednesday evening, I took my parents to Motown The Musical and this meant getting dinner beforehand – we went to Byron Burger.
I was nervous, I had never been to a burger restaurant and not ordered a burger. I thought about ordering the burger and just not eating the bun, but that just seemed sad and far too tempting if it were to be put in front of me. But a miracle happened – I ordered a salad. It was delicious!
It made me realise that I would never have realised how delicious their salads were because I would never have ordered one. In fact, I liked it so much I would probably choose that over a burger if and when I go again.
Products that got me through week two:
OK so I am going to mention yet another magnesium product I use. Bath soak flakes. These have been a life saver for this second week when Mark has slowly been increasing the amount of weight I have been lifting.
During exercise we use our calcium stores to facilitate muscular contractions, and as we sweat, we start to lose potassium, sodium and magnesium. This results in an imbalance which can also give rise to painful cramps after exercise or DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) as they are also known.
Magnesium chloride is a highly soluble mineral. That’s why with a bath soak, the magnesium is absorbed through your skin, bypassing your digestive system and reaching your bloodstream and body cells quicker than with oral supplements.
Just add the salts to your bathwater and spend 20 minutes soaking up the benefits. Not a fan of baths? Use it as a foot soak instead.
Do you remember me mentioning my love for peppermint tea and how it has helped to subside my sweet cravings? Well, this is the delicious mint tea I have been drinking this week – Pukka’s Three Mint tea.
This tea is made with organic peppermint, spearmint and fieldmint and is naturally caffeine free.
This product has been a serious help. It really does work and it smells AMAZING.
Frankincense essential oil acts as an antiseptic to help fight infections and to aid physical and mental relaxation. The Lavender Oil is the most effective oil in helping hypertension, nervous tension and insomnia.
As soon as I have got into work everyday this week I have applied this product to my wrists. The roller ball end makes it really quick and easy to apply.
I have also been putting some into the palm of my hands and taking five deep breaths. This helps to reduce stress and tension and calm the mind, which is so necessary when your to do list looks like it has got slightly out of control.
Plus, the product is compact and small so you can pop in it your bag and take it everywhere you go.
Results at the end of week two
|Before||End of week one||End of week two|
|Body fat %||27.0||25.8||24.2|
|Overall weight loss kg||N/A||1.5||2.6|
As you can see, I have had another successful week looking at my results. I have lost another 1.6 per cent body fat ( that makes a total of 2.8 per cent body fat loss) and have lost another kilogram. Plus my hips, waist, stomach and thigh measurements have all decreased.
I still can’t see a difference in the pictures, can you? Here’s hoping next week’s picture shows a change…
I haven’t received any comments either, but I still feel energised, motivated and ready to take on week three. Bring it on.
Come back every week to read Olivia’s week by week diary of her weight loss transformation with Mark Stanton and Emma Bardwell at Transition Zone.
For a free 15 minute introductory call to talk about goals, symptoms and expectations click here.
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