My Vegan Month: 3 Weeks In

November 19, 2017

A quick weekly update (I don’t have much to report!) after nearly 3 weeks eating a vegan diet.

This week, I found tempeh – apparently it’s really difficult to locate in the UK. Hardly any shops stock it, so I didn’t expect to find it anywhere.

Tiny (bit of) tempeh

Anyway, I was idly Googling it… and discovered that my town’s local Food “Co-operative”/Farmer’s market type thing sells it! Freshly made (the day before) and sold by the guy who makes it.

What a find – tempeh in Folkestone!

This is what it looks like (well, it’s what the one I bought looks like – it’s a handmade, fermented food so I imagine every batch looks a bit different).

What is tempeh?

Like tofu, it’s made from soy beans. But unlike tofu, tempeh keeps the soy beans whole – so tempeh is firmer and chunkier. It’s much easier to chop and slice than even the firm type of tofu. And it’s fermented (unlike tofu) which has to be a good thing, right?!

Tempeh is higher in calories but also higher in protein (and fibre). It’s considered to be healthier and “better”, because it’s less processed. (Especially if you can get it handmade and really fresh like I did!)

I really liked it. It’s firm and holds its shape, it has a kind of nutty chunky texture, and tastes mild (like tofu) but does have a flavour of its own.

I can’t say that I felt any particular health benefits from eating tempeh, but it’s a fermented food( and gut health is verrrry trendy right now), so I felt a healthy glow of smug satisfaction. And I’m sure my gut microbiome had the best week of its life. Their life? Is gut microbiome a thing or a group of things?

Blood donation

What else? I gave blood on Friday, and didn’t bother rifling through the snacks to find anything vegan. I only really like the Bourbon Creams, Club biscuits and dearly-departed TUC biscuits anyway. I came home and had one of my Vegan Protein Squares instead.

I must say that I felt very tired and drained (no pun intended) the day after giving blood. But I haven’t slept well this week (holla to my neighbour and his early shifts), and have trained 6 days of the 7.

So who knows if not being able to eat red meat after donating blood had anything to do with it.

Bit bored

I’ve felt a bit… bored (?) of eating vegan this week. I am really enjoying the things I am eating. But I’m starting to feel a bit… restless. I want more variety. I’m not missing any one thing in particular. But I think I just miss having the option/s.

Again, this could be stemming from tiredness/poor sleep and sub-optimal recovery 🙂

I don’t have much more to say, so I’ll sign off. Do check out my interview with vegan bodybuilder Tsuki. I’m hoping to post a few more interviews before the month is over.

Any questions? Please let me know!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

Advertisements

BDFPA Powerlifting Qualifier (307.5kg total)

January 18, 2016

Last Saturday, I did my first powerlifting comp (the BDFPA‘s Dean Mikosz Memorial). Quick version: a 97.5 squat, 60 bench, 150 deadlift for a 307.5kg total as a U70 unequipped lifter.

Longer version:

Got there bright and early, weighed in and set about getting hydrated (thank you client Bulkpowders for a generous gift of hydration drink and pre-workout gels for the day!)

Although there were other female lifters on the entry list, the others didn’t show up. So I was the only female competing full power on the day (you never can tell who will turn up, I guess – apparently there were quite a few women at this qualifier last year).

The day was split into two flights, under 80-something-KGs and over 80-something-KGs. So I was in the first flight, with the lighter men.

First up was squats (it’s always squats, bench, deadlift). And as my opening weight was the lightest of the flight, I was the first lifter.

This was pretty nerve-wracking! I’ve never lifted in a competition setting – on a platform and facing out in to an audience. The rack was different to the style I use for training. And being the first lifter, I hadn’t had a chance to watch anybody lift before me.

12552898_10208187337422252_8703208146565632078_n

That’s me in the warm up room – what an awesome old-school gym! My squat warm up had felt heavy, laborious and just not great at all. I don’t know if this was because it was earlier in the morning than I usually train, or because I didn’t warm up enough, or just due to nerves. No idea. But I wasn’t feeling great!

Anyway, little time to think about it. The comp started and I was announced as the first lifter.

Squat 1: 90kgs. Felt very heavy. But it went down, and back up again, and I got 3/3 whites (i.e. all of the 3 referees called it as a “good lift”).
Squat 2: 95kgs. Also felt very heavy. But again I got 3/3 whites although a couple of people in the audience told me I was only just deep enough.
Squat 3: 97.5kgs. I’ve done 100kgs in the gym, on more than one occasion, but I didn’t think it was happening today and I’d rather get another good lift than fail an over-ambitious one. After all, this is my first comp and just a qualifier. I only need to do as much as is needed to qualify. Felt very heavy, and was the slowest squat in the world on the way back up, but I fought for it and got it. 3/3 whites. Apparently it was deeper than my 95 and a better squat.

12193617_10208184376268225_848853955893433628_n

Felt very relieved that squats were over!

Had a bit of a break here whilst the second flight squatted. Ate some decent food (stayed true to my bro roots: rice and tuna out of a plastic tub 😉 )

Bench 1: I went with 60kgs for my opener, a weight I only recently got for 2 reps in the gym. Maybe I could have opened with less. But I had no expectations for bench, I’ve only really started training flat barbell bench in the last few months. It went down and then up again. I got 2/3 whites (1 ref gave me a red due to me moving a bit before the “start” command). 2 of 3 is enough for a good lift.
Bench 2: I tried 62.5kgs despite never getting it before in the gym. It got stuck partway up and I battled it for a bit until the ref told the spotters to take it. A bit disappointing but I’ve never done 62.5kgs before so never mind. 3 reds – failed lift.
Bench 3: I tried the 62.5kgs again but the exact same thing happened again. I think I just need to train bench more, and iron out some technical issues.

12509578_10208186908571531_4189079618243153128_n

Another break here whilst the big fellas did their benching.

Deadlift time! Hooray! I love deadlifting, definitely my favourite lift by miles. I’d been waiting all day to deadlift.

Deadlift 1: 130kgs opener, very easy. I probably should have opened with more but wanted to feel confident.
Deadlift 2: 140kgs. This had been my PB in the gym for ages, in fact I only got 145kgs a couple of weeks ago and that felt a real struggle. This 140 went up FAST! The video (you can see it here) makes me laugh to see how fast it went up. You can hear someone in the background comment about how fast it was.
I decided to go for 150 for my third deadlift. I’ve never tried this weight before in training so it would be brand new territory and a PB if I got it. I really wanted to get a PB in my favourite lift as my final lift of the comp.
Deadlift 3: 150kg. I felt great walking up to the bar. I can’t really remember doing it, but it came up pretty fast, pretty smooth, no sticking points. It didn’t feel hard. Not easy, but comfortable. The video is here (you can see how pleased I am at the end).

12540787_10208187169378051_7337091177864569275_n

My total was 307.5 which was more than enough to secure a place in the full power unequipped Nationals. They are just under 6 weeks away.

In summary:

Squat was a bit disconcerting because I didn’t expect it to feel so hard and so uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel “right”. I don’t know if it’s technique, “attack”, confidence or something else I need to work on. Whatever it is, I will figure it out and work on it!

Bench was no more or less than I expected. I know there’s a lot more there once I get some more training sessions in the bank.

Deadlift was amazing and I’m buzzing! I also feel I have a lot more in the tank, I think I could have got 155 on the day (one of the spotters told me to do 145 for my second lift and 155 for my third, I wish I’d listened to him).

My goals for Nationals to be revealed, but are a “total” goal and a deadlift goal.

Over the next 5 weeks I’ll mainly be working on squat (weight, confidence, drive) and bench (technique, sticking point, a little extra weight).

I’ll leave it there before this gets far too long! If anyone from the BDFPA is reading, thank you for a very well organised, friendly, welcoming day. It was great fun and every single person I met was great. I’m a very happy new member of your Association 😀

BDFPA Qualifier: 307.5 Total is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Impressing My Toughest Critic (“You could have done 13!”)

December 5, 2015

My nephew has never been especially moved by my various feats of sporting endeavour.

I once picked him up from school brandishing a big silver cup (won at a bodybuilding comp), and he asked why I didn’t bring my dog with me.

He knows I’ve swum the English Channel. He knows I sometimes ride my bike quite a long way. He knows I once did a competition where I pulled a truck.

No biggie.

There was the – somewhat devastating – time when I was two days out from a bodybuilding comp and went round to his house so my sister could take progress pics. He popped his head round the door as I was doing a front double bicep, looked me up and down and said, “no, Auntie Nic. Your muscles are too loose”. I was 48 hours away from getting on stage in my bikini in front of a load of strangers. I’m surprised I didn’t have two nights full of nightmares about “loose” muscles.

10698520_10154587920110072_7693303579520668776_n.jpgThen there have been all the times (too numerous to detail) where he’s assured me that “I’m stronger than you, anyway, Auntie Nic”.

Even at 10 weeks old, he barely batted a baby eyelash when I did an entire Nephew Workout using him as a weight.

So, it is with pride that I can report that finally, after five years, I have earned some encouragement from him about my physical prowess. Not just some encouragement. Glowing praise. Solid encouragement. Unshakeable faith in my abilities.

It was last night. Just before his bedtime. He suggested we do some “exercise” with his Mum and Dad’s dumbbells. I told him I could pick up the biggest ones. He eyed those 17.5kgs dumbbells, then looked at me doubtfully. “Really, Auntie Nic?” Yes, I told him. In fact, I told him to choose a number between 10-20 and I’d (single arm overhead) press it that many times.

12 reps was the challenge thrown down.

“Ooh, gosh, well I’ll try my very best!” I told him.

I got to 8. I struggled to 10 😉 I made a big deal about rep 11, and then I “just managed” rep 12. “Phew! I did it!” I told him.

“Auntie Nic…” he said. “YOU COULD HAVE DONE 13!”

🙂

Impressing My Toughest Critic (“You could have done 13!”) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Week 5 catch up – congratulate yourself

November 26, 2015

Another late “weekly catch up” from me! I like to keep things fresh. Thursday is the new Sunday (or something).

Truth be told, I don’t feel I have a great deal to report which is perhaps why I’m dragging my feet. We’ve talked about setting a goal for the 8-week challenge/thing, discussed keystone habits, fessed up to our red flags, and I’ve banged on and on about journalling.

As we head into the second half of our 8 weeks, what would be useful to discuss?

How about celebrating even the smallest successes? I’ll admit that my “measurable” progress with my goals have been up and down, certainly not linear, and I’ve felt a bit like I’m going two steps forward and one step back.

But I’m essentially an optimist and like to see the positives, or at least the opportunities for doing better.

So here’s what I’m giving myself small pats on the back for this week:

– not just keeping up with my dog walking activity since it’s turned so cold and dark, but actually increasing it. I’ve switched my daily schedule around a bit (when I can) so I can make the most of light mornings, and I’ve been heading out for 1 hour+ and tackling at least one decent hill in that morning walk.
11931166_1664988640427096_1257728341_n
– identifying “red flag” feelings (this week it’s mainly been feelings of frustration about a work project) and doing something proactive rather than reacting by getting all wound up. When I can, I’ve gone for that daylight dog walk when a conference call got rescheduled (etc). Work frustration and feeling “stuck to my chair all day” is a key “red flag” feeling for me, so this week I’ve been trying to flip my reaction to it.
12301226_1526701070956262_971703215_n

– going training even when I didn’t feel like it
. For some reason, just this week I have really started to struggle with training after work. It hasn’t just felt a bit hard, it’s felt awful! I can barely keep my eyes open, the drive to the gym is horrible, I feel in a foul mood, and I don’t feel strong at all. So I’ve made it my mission to get motivated: play music in the car or at home before I go, dance about a bit (before I go, not at the gym), arrange training with a buddy, design myself a session I know I’ll love (or that scares me bit!)

– having a full day off when I really thought I needed it. On the flip-side, there was one day this week when training just wasn’t happening. I started getting ready to lift weights, and realised I really, really didn’t want to go. Not only did I not want to go, but I didn’t “need” to (in that my other sessions over the week covered everything). So… I didn’t go. It’s hard to do, actually! But I knew it was the right decision. Instead I ploughed through a load of work, did some housework and got other sh*t done. Later that day, I was due to go boxing (which I love). But the thought just made me want to curl up and go to sleep. So after a bit of soul-searching, I decided to give myself a break. I had an evening at home, and thoroughly enjoyed it. And you know what, the next day I set a new PB in the gym!

What can you congratulate yourself for this week? Even if it’s not something you would normally think of as “good”?

In other news: two new PBs this week! A deadlift PB of 142.5kgs (I’d been stuck at 140kgs for ages and knew I had a bit more in me) and a debatable 62.5kgs for bench. I think my training partner might have helped a teeny bit. It certainly wouldn’t have passed in a powerlifting comp. But I put 62.5kgs on the bar and I pressed it! I’ll get it properly-properly soon, and I’ll certainly congratulate myself for it! It wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t even bench 60kgs!

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Week 5 catch up – congratulate yourself is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Week 2 of 8 (and a word about Keystone Habits)

November 3, 2015

How is it Tuesday night already? This is my check-in post for the end of week 2 of our 8-week challenge/thing. Never mind that the end of week 2 was…er…Sunday.

Still. Moving on!

In last week’s round-up post I explained that I’d spent the first week tracking things and sort of observing myself from afar, gathering the data about the things I wanted to work on over these 8 weeks, so I can see where I need to make some changes.

This week just gone I’ve been focusing on making those changes.

As explained in the initial post (here), I’m using these 8 weeks to work on a business plan (not suitable – yet – for talking about here) and for working on my somewhat haphazard eating routine.

Week 2 was good. About 75% good, I’d say. Which is presumably some kind of improvement (74%? Not a clue. I do phrases, not percentages.)

What went well:
– I planned almost all of my meals
– I tracked everything (I use myfitnesspal)
– I definitely ended up eating less than I have been!
– I remembered how much I actually enjoy eating pretty simple meals and snacks, and I didn’t miss the “extra bits and bobs” I cut out.

What still needs work:
– Weirdly, I’ve actually been under-eating a few days a week, and this isn’t helping me achieve the consistent balance I want. Perhaps I’m still in that contest-prep mindset? I don’t know. But on a few days last week I ended up towards the lower end of the calories I need to fuel my everyday activity and training. This isn’t the plan at all – the whole point of this 8 week thing for me is to work out a good consistent plan which gives me what I need, every day. No ups and downs.

Measurable progress:
– I weighed in at the start of the 8 weeks, and have weighed in once since. I’ve dropped a small amount of weight.
– I’ve gone down one notch on my gym belt.
– I’m sleeping a lot better.

Right, I’m shattered from tonight’s boxing session. Before I sign off, let’s talk about something useful: keystone habits.
powerofhabit-loop
Keystone habits are those habits which are fundamental to your day going well. If you don’t do them, it feels like your day can easily spiral out of control and get away from you. But if you do them, everything else falls into place.

Keystone habits are linked to other good habits (for example, training in the morning means you choose healthier food for lunch….) They set in motion a kind of chain reaction that help other, less fundamental, habits take root.

I’m big on habits and I’m always reminded how integral my own keystone habits are to the success (or not!) of my day, particularly when I’m trying to work on changes to diet, activity levels, productivity at work, or sleep.

Here are my keystone habits

– Writing in my paper journal every morning before I get out of bed
– Planning my meals (however loosely) for the next day
– Writing a to-do list for the next day
– Moving my a$$ every day (usually training, of course, but if not training then a really decent long/hilly walk with the dog)
– Eating at the table (as opposed to standing up, or on the sofa)
– Leaving my phone downstairs when I go to bed

If I do all of those, I can be pretty sure that the rest of my day will go well. I’ve just noticed that they top-and-tail my day, actually!

If I don’t journal in the morning, the day starts running away from me without me “checking in” with myself and I feel a bit…disconnected.

If I don’t work up a sweat doing something physical every day, I feel lethargic and crappy and can end up moping about making rubbish food choices in the evening. (I never said this stuff makes logical sense!)

You can read more about keystone habits in Charles Duhigg‘s book The Power Of Habit (I listened to it on Audible.co.uk)

What are your keystone habits?

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Week 2 of 8 (and a word about Keystone Habits) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


%d bloggers like this: