My daily routine

 

I have been asked many times what I usually eat in a day, how often I workout, what I do when I workout etc etc. At first I wasn’t going to write it – I don’t eat anything special. My diet isn’t an insight into how to get abs or the ‘perfect’ diet, so why would anyone want to see it? But then I thought, that’s why I’m going to write it – my diet isn’t a miracle worker, but then healthiness isn’t a miracle. It requires hard work and dedication, but you also need to have fun. Unless you’re training and eating to compete, ‘clean eating’ just isn’t sustainable or fun enough to contemplate doing all the time (at least for me). So if you’re reading this to find some miracle, you might as well stop. But I hope you don’t, because this is what a real person with real cravings and a real life eats. If you think that it’s filled with superfoods, hours of cardio and no cake, think again!

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I try to run about 4-5 times a week, either on the track or on the treadmill before a workout (photo by @mattlincolnphoto)

Daily diet: I don’t have a standard diet that I stick to everyday – my diet switches up daily and, like most people, I go through phases of eating really healthily and then have days when I eat probably (a lot) more than I should. But that’s balance, and that’s the ethos I live by. I base my diet on vegetables, but enjoy fish, quorn and complex carbs too. I try to limit animal products (except for eggs) and don’t eat meat.

Sleep: Sleep is a huge part of my life. I sleep 8-8.5h per night, although if I had my way it’d probably be more like 9.5-10h. I am a koala bear and can sleep at pretty much any time, anywhere. Sleep is so so important and stops you craving sugary snacks when you hit an energy slump in the afternoon. It also means you can train hard – it’s always so difficult if you’re sleep deprived. A good sleep routine helps me. I usually go to bed by 10, and am asleep before 11pm 🙂

Exercise: My workouts vary from day to day, and I try to mix up the parts of the body worked. I start most workouts with a 2km run or a 15 minute steep incline (8-10%) walk. This is to warm up my legs (especially needed in the winter) and increase my heart rate. This is all the cardio I do unless I got to track to train with the athletics club! I go for 2km in under 8 minutes, but of course everyone will vary. I workout abs twice a week at least, legs/butt I leave to running and arms/shoulders/back twice. Any remaining workouts are usually at the running, boxing or classes to mix things up a little. Sometimes I do full body workouts, which follow a Barry’s Bootcamp style (run, circuit, run circuit etc.). These are amazing if you want to burn fat, as they incorporate weights and cardio.

Supplements:

BCAA – Branched chain amino acids. These are three of the nine essential amino acids in humans and help muscles recover and grow after exercise. They may help reduce fatigue and DOMS in athletes. However, BCAAs probably aren’t required if you get lots of protein in your diet.

Protein – Similar to BCAAs, protein supplementation helps fix minute tears in muscle fibres after exercise. Having protein shakes is really useful if you’re not going to eat in the 45 minutes after exercise, as this is when protein is most needed by the body. I mostly use vegan protein, as whey, whilst it is absorbed more easily into the body, may not be as good for you in the long run (another post entirely)! I love strippd vanilla pea and hemp protein and am also a massive fan of Nutristrength whey isolate, which is kind on your stomach and really natural even if you’re lactose intolerant. Use FLORA15 if you’d like 15% off!

Multi-vitamins – I take multi-vitaminseveryday. They’re useful if you’re vegan or have a restrictive diet, although most people should have enough of the vitamins in their diet in general if you eat a variety of foods!

Ginkgo – Ginkgo has been used as a supplement for thousands of years in China. Whilst I’m wary of anecdotes about the wonders of traditional medicine, gingko has been widely researched and shown to slightly boost memory and cognitive speed. It may improve circulation (much needed for me) and increase energy levels.

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BCAAs, protein, snack bar and some other essentials I take to the gym

Day 1:

Breakfast: Smoothie bowl (check out some of my favourite recipes here and here) topped with muesli and crystallised ginger.

Lunch: Wholemeal pitta filled with vegetables I roasted over the weekend (squash, parsnip, carrot, tomato, kale), tomato paste, chilli flakes and mozzarella. Plain yogurt for dessert.

Snack: A protein bar/shake and some BCAAs after my workout.

Dinner: Homemade sweet potato and chickpea curry with Pollock

Dessert: Protein banana nice cream (food of the gods)

 

Day 2:

Breakfast: Bowl of chia and oat protein pudding (half chia and oats, mixed with almond milk or water and protein powder).

Snack: Slice of homemade beetroot chocolate cake

Lunch: Sourdough toast, ½ avocado, 2 scrambled eggs, polenta

Post-workout snack: Grenade carb-killa protein shake, BCAAs

Dinner: 2 egg omelette, quorn chicken pieces, kale, tomato

Pre-bedtime snack: cereal and crystallised ginger with coconut and protein powder.

 

Day 3:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (2) on homemade protein toast

Snack: Apple and peanut butter

Lunch: Kind bar and protein shake (I was full!)

Dinner: (LOTS of) Homemade veggie lasagne with apple crumble for pudding

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Apple crumble! I could eat this all day everyday ❤

I hope you find that useful, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have. Remember, being healthy is not a miracle and it’s not a diet. It’s got to be a sustainable way of living, and one that you enjoy doing!

Interview for Umoyo active

I was interviewed by the new fitness brand, Umoyo Active last summer about my fitness motivation, my instagram and all things healthy living! Here’s what I said:

 

  • When and why did you decide to create your ‘food_fitness_flora’ blog?

I created my Instagram when I was around 17. It originally started as a reminder that everyone needs to eat food at least 3 times a day. I used to be quite obsessive over my eating and exercise, and the Instagram community really helped me overcome the problems I had. It slowly changed into a positive page about food and fitness, but originally it was a support page.

  • What does your blog involve?

My IG involves my life, basically. It documents my meals (albeit only the pretty ones) and my workouts, which I try to do everyday. I also try to inspire others to live as well as they can, in regards to health and fitness. My blog is filled with recipes and reviews of products and gyms, as well as longer posts regarding matters such as healthy eating and food and fitness culture 🙂

  • Who are you speaking out to and why? 

Anyone and everyone. Anyone who is already living the fitness lifestyle, anyone who wants to and anyone who just needs a bit of food inspiration and fitness motivation! I don’t think there’s any particular age group or type of person that I am speaking to in particular.

  •  What does a ‘healthy lifestyle’ mean to you?

Healthy to me means balanced. Orthorexia (obsession with eating healthily) is no joke, and I don’t believe that this is being ‘healthy’. Living healthily means you are both mentally and physically healthy. This doesn’t always involve clean eating and working out everyday!

  •  Have you always lived a healthy lifestyle? 

No, but I’ve always been into my healthy foods (along with plenty of unhealthy ones 😉 ). I’ve been a pescetarian since I was 4, which was originally due to the fact that I hate the taste and texture of meat, but later was also due to both ethics and environmental reasons. I feel like this threw me into the world of healthy eating at an early age, as I had to learn how to feed myself well when I was very young!

  •  Do you have a specific weekly fitness/work out routine? 

No specifics. I try to listen to my body and not workout when I am exhausted, but tend to go to the gym most days. In an ideal week, I will gym 5 times and have one track running training session. Gymming involves a mix of things, including circuits and resistance training, and I often incorporate treadmill sprints into my circuits.

  • What are your favourite breakfast meals to fuel your day and why? 

Breakfast is definitely my favourite meal of the day. I love a good smoothie bowl, and there are so many types you can do! The carrot cake smoothie bowl on my blog is always a winner, as is simple peanut butter, banana, oats and protein. I also make my own muesli at university that is just so delicious (if I may say so myself).

  • Do you have long term or short term individual health and fitness goals? 

My long term fitness goal is to stay as aerobically fit and physically strong for as long as I can. Immediately, I guess my goals in the gym are aesthetics based (ie. to look good and strong), as well as being able to do un-assisted pull-ups (more than 2) and hold a handstand. Outside of the gym, with my running, I am always looking to improve my 5k and other distances. My only competition is myself.

  • What is your favourite style of activewear? 

I love monochrome activewear, mesh and cool straps. But more than anything I need functionality.

  • What are you looking for when you want to buy new activewear? 

How well it performs in the gym – there’s nothing worse than having a bad workout because your bra strap keeps falling down, or because your leggings reveal too much when you squat. However, I love to look and feel good in my activewear – which is why I wear it as casual clothing 90% of the time too!

The truth about detoxes

I was asked to write this article as an ‘unbiased piece on the popular detoxes on sale after christmas’, showing which worked, which to avoid and including my advice on the matter. I found it impossible to remain unbiased – the ‘popular detoxes’ on the market aren’t healthy and could in no way be recommended to anyone. At best they’re a waste of time and money, and at worst they could do you some damage. Have a read and let me know what you think!

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If you Google ‘post Christmas detox’, you get 2,970,000 results. Some of the advice is helpful (eat your greens, don’t eat too much cake) but some of it could be downright harmful (cut out all wheat/sugar/dairy/food from your diet). It’s not uncommon for people to gain a few pounds over Christmas. Students, especially, when they come home from perhaps not the best diet (halls food and/or budget meals) to home made roast potatoes and their favourite desserts, are likely to indulge on the free food – hence that ‘Christmas bulge’. As you may remember, before Christmas there was a piece in Epigram on whether or not you should allow yourself to indulge in all the Christmas food you like, or whether you should show restraint and perhaps not go back for seconds. The overwhelming message was that Christmas is there to be enjoyed, and part of the joy is eating excellent food until you pass out on the sofa, unable to eat any more. Or at least that’s me. So what do you do when you’ve gained a few kilos over Christmas (I personally gained 3kg from eating over 3000 calories a day) and want to perhaps tone up a bit from New Year onwards?

There are basically two options:

  • Detox: This usually involves cutting out a lot from your diet, often entire food groups, eg. wheat/dairy/sugar/alcohol/red meat (my mum cuts them all out for 2 weeks) in an effort to ‘cleanse’ and ‘detox’ your body. Maybe you’ll even try a ‘skinny/detox tea’ because the transformation pics are great.
  • Continue to eat normally, but healthier. Cutting down on unhealthy foods/drinks such as refined sugars, saturated fats and alcohol and allowing your liver to do the rest.

As a scientist and advocate of balanced eating, I am a firm believer that DETOXES DO NOT WORK. A quick note on how our body removes toxins (or ‘detoxes’) itself: the lymph removes larger waste products and liver removes and inactivates most other toxins, such as alcohol. The water-soluble ones move to the kidneys to be excreted in urine. The last major part is your digestive tract, where fibre can help move toxins through until they are eventually excreted. Yum.

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Natural detoxification

What even is a ‘toxin’? Interestingly, the companies that benefit from detoxes and diets can’t all agree on what is meant by detoxification. Essentially it means removal of toxins from the body, through diets and cessation of ingesting toxins, in this case unhealthy foods, alcohol and cigarettes. The aim is to reset the metabolism and allow the body to function at full capacity without being inhibited by these ‘toxins’. Unfortunately due to some poor science and misunderstandings, the term ‘toxin’ has been broadened to include anything that the diet might remove. This can include harmless substances such as wheat or dairy (unless you’re intolerant).

 

Here are some of the more popular and misunderstood ‘detoxes’ being sold on the market, especially after New Year.

 

Juice cleanses: We’re all aware that fruit and vegetables are good for us, and therefore many people believe that, by extension, a diet of purely fruit and veg MUST be even better. Juice/smoothies diets advise nothing but fruit and veg smoothies/juices for days or weeks. Of course you will lose weight, but only because you’re probably only achieving a maximum of 800 calories a day. You could eat 800 calories of cheeseburger a day and you would lose weight. You would still not be ‘detoxing’. On such a low calorie diet, our bodies start to use up stored glycogen, before burning fat. A lot of water is stored in glycogen, so significant amounts of weight may be lost quickly, although most of the weight would be water, not fat. After a few days of detoxing, energy levels would be rock bottom and irritability sky high as your body uses the last of its glycogen and starts moving to burning fat (and muscle). Luckily liquid diet detoxes usually don’t last long enough to cause vitamin/mineral deficiencies, and probably won’t land you in hospital. However, the result tends to be a very hungry person who may or may not feel the need to eat more upon finishing the diet. Sometimes electrolyte imbalances can occur, leading to fatigue and dehydration. Usually, all weight lost is regained within a few days, mostly from eating real food which holds more water. Thus both weight lost and gained is mostly water.

 

Detox/diet/skinny teas: Most detox teas make you lose weight because they contain laxatives or diuretics. Laxatives ‘work’ by releasing anything in your gut along with a lot of water, allowing you to lose weight for the first few days of using them, although none of this is fat. Diuretics increase the amount you pee, effectively dehydrating you and allowing you to lose more water weight. Laxatives are among the more harmful diet aids, as they can dehydrate and cause mild nutrient deficiencies if used over an extended period of time, as food spends less time in the gut, so not all the nutrients are absorbed. In addition, your body may compensate by decreasing your natural ‘movements’ – so when your detox finally ends, you may find yourself feeling pretty uncomfortable. Ew.

As you can see above, I also fell prey to the glamour and marketing of detox/skinny teas. Lyfe and boo-tea were two that I was sent and happily showed off on my Instagram. I’m not hiding this as I think it’s important to show that without educating yourself, anyone can believe what they’re told. For someone who was, at the time, recovering from an eating disorder, these sorts of ‘detoxes’ were quite damaging. 

Diet shakes: These work in a similar way to juice cleanses, in that they produce a calorie deficit that means that you lose weight. Often the instructions are to replace one or two meals a day with a replacement shake. These shakes were incredibly popular around 10 years ago and have thankfully gone out of fashion a little. They are attractive to people wanting to lose weight as they don’t require thought into eating healthily, and are quick and easy. However, the advice to ‘not drink your calories’ whilst trying to lose weight is useful – when you drink high calorie drinks, often your body doesn’t ‘realise’ the amount of calories being consumed. With diet shakes, it’s easy to think it doesn’t have many calories as it’s just a drink, meaning that you’re more likely to eat more later. It’s possible that you’ll actually end up eating more calories later in the day to compensate, resulting in weight gain.

 

Instead of a diet? So if you want to ACTUALLY relieve your body of the stress caused by excess aforementioned toxins, what can you do? The great thing is that you CAN help your body, but it might not be as fancy as a detox/cleanse/diet/whatever. Supplying your liver with enough nutrients to function properly is very important. Essentially you need to aid your body in its own detoxification process. This means:

  • Eat more vegetables, which will boost your immune system, fibre intake, feed your liver and make you feel better in general.
  • Drink more water – this can flush out toxins, and help the excrement process, so that your body can detox itself faster.
  • Exercise. This increases your metabolism and means your body can function at full capacity. If you’re not into working out, try walking more – even just standing up and walking about every 30-60 minutes can have a positive effect.
  • Sleep. We need 7-9h of sleep a night for optimal functioning. You’re also much less likely to crave unhealthy foods if you sleep enough at night. If you don’t, try a 30 minute nap (MAX!) during the day to catch up.
  • Don’t sabotage yourself. If you’re detoxing, remember not to add more toxins in – this means limiting caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy foods containing high levels of fat or refined sugar. These sorts of food tire your body out, as the amount of processing that has to occur to digest them is more extensive than with healthy foods. The more you consume these substances the more you’ll crave.
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Supplying your body with natural, healthy food is the best way to aid it in the detoxification process.

The long and short of it is that quick fixes don’t work. Nothing beats a healthy diet and your body’s natural way of detoxing. There is NO evidence that the above diets remove harmful substances faster than eating healthily.

 

Note: There is something to be said for intermittent fasting, ie. missing meals here and there – if you’re interested in this then research it, as the science behind it is super interesting. I’ve never tried it myself but the research is extensive and seems sound.

 

Read this amusing diary of a 3 day juice cleanse: http://laist.com/2013/04/12/juice_cleanse.php

DAY THREE

8:59 a.m.: Wake up, want to die. I have absolutely no energy, and I’m depressed and miserable. I can’t believe I have to do this for another full day.

9:07 a.m.: Call my mom for moral support. She wants to know exactly what a “toxin” is and why I think this will rid my body of them. I think that’s a good question. She thinks I should quit the cleanse and says it’s for vain people with nothing else to think about. Kind of agree with her. She also suggests that people who want to rid their bodies of toxins should probably just eat healthier.”

Cover photo my Matt Lincoln (IG: @mattlincolnphoto)