Fitness: My Eight Week Progress

Unfortunately, pre-gym I have absolutely no comparison photos of myself and my body. Why would I? Who just has random full-length photos of them half-naked, especially when you’re not working out and not happy with the way your body looks? Not only do I have the typical ‘I-hate-this’ opinion of every photo of me anyway (like most women I know) but I also have an unrelated but really bad obsession with deleting stuff. I regularly procrastinate by going through my files and deleting, even checking my Facebook ‘on this day’ every single day (sometimes as soon as it passes midnight!) so I can delete stuff from the past. Every Thursday as I finish the left page of the diary I rip it out and bin it, instantly. Me and my fitness pal Rachel definitely took some really decent ‘before’ pics a couple years ago now (I’m a photographer, this shouldn’t be THAT hard) that would be absolutely perfect for comparison but I can’t find them anywhere, so I probably deleted them at a time when I felt a crappy. You’ll just have to trust me when I say I’ve made progress with this BBG program because, although I did have three months off for recovery from a hernia operation (you can read about that and my four week progress Here!) that was still after a fairly solid relationship with the gym for two years and 2/3 intense classes with an instructor every week. So in my before pictures, I am still at the highest fitness levels I’ve ever been. I haven’t been a couch potato for 2-3 years now so you must keep that in mind when I talk about my routine.

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Diet: I naturally eat fairly well these days, I’m vegetarian and eat a lot of vegan meals so processed foods are something I really don’t eat often, neither are sweets, fizzy drinks etc. I’ve managed to wean myself onto water and I’m a total addict now. I’m also down to one cup of tea a day and then only decaff green tea if I want something hot. I eat a lot of eggs, avocados, houmous, tofu stir-fry with vegetables and every morning I have a bowl of protein porridge with blueberries. I never really believed the protein hype when I started gymming, I don’t know how much difference it makes to your progress but it really does fight off the aches and pains! For snacks I’ve managed to trick myself into liking dark chocolate, never thought I’d see the day but a couple squares of Lindt 90% is enough for me to feel like I’ve had a treat. If I end up gymming at an awkward stage between meals, sometimes I’ll try and follow my work out with an oat milk protein shake (strawberry and cream flavour, for porridge I mix in a scoop of the vanilla one.)  However, since I started DJing a year ago, I have been drinking more than I’d like but I’m curbing that again recently…at the max I will have half a bottle of prosecco once or twice a week, might have a bottle to myself now and again but that’s getting rarer thankfully – I just *can’t* leave prosecco!

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Offbeets vegan burger with triple-cooked chips – you can even get polenta chips which I’ll definitely be trying next time.

My main issue is dinner. I don’t do go out, I don’t buy make-up or clothes, I don’t have nice home furnishings, drive, wear any accessories or smoke so *all* my money goes on dinner out. Last week I think I ate out for five dinners in a row – I’m terrible! When I’m out I do try and make healthy-ish choices but I really can’t say no to dessert. When I’m trying to be good I’ll always opt for Chalk Valley’s veggie burger in a lettuce wrap, Mexigo’s veggie chilli bowl or mine and Rachels absolute favourite vegan and gluten free restaurant, Offbeet. I love Wahaca, Franco Manca and Bills Restaurant, too. As for my workout routine, I tend to divide it into three categories in my head so I’ll talk about them a little bit separately.

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Circuits: The Kayla Itsines guide we are using changes weekly between two work out series each month, so you’ll be doing the same routine week one and three and a different routine week two and four. Chopping and changing really helps and the program takes a shift towards the end to focus on different areas. By week eight the circuits balance out as follows; Monday (arms and legs), Wednesday (abs and cardio) and Friday (legs and cardio) so they’re pretty abs/cardio heavy at this stage whereas the first four weeks were more legs and cardio. The work outs are still composed of two circuits, A and B. You do circuit A for 7mins, short break, B for 7mins, short break and repeat. A 28minute workout that we probably drag out to 45minutes/an hour with breaks and stretching…plus an awful lot of talking. Our PT is always telling us off for nattering away, it’s like being in school sometimes and he will want to separate us so we don’t talk! I’ll pop a tough routine for you to try at the end of this blog and compare to the last example I gave in the previous blog: Here!

Cardio: I try and do one HiiT ‘sprinterval’ session a week but I think we are supposed to be stepping this up to two a week at this stage, it’s just difficult to fit everything in when you’re busy! I think you need to be able to tailor your workout to your schedule and cut yourself some slack when you need to. I think my running has really helped with my overall look as well, I can really feel my abs working when I’m running outside. I run with a club run by Sweatshop every other Monday (it’s weekly but I DJ for a Winchester clubnight called Detention every other week) and then once or twice on my own in the week which I’ve seen massive progress with. I can now run 5k! From 3minutes of running pretty much maxing me out to being able to run 5k in only a matter of eight weeks is something I’m really proud of, I’d recommend joining the beginners group of this club (or something similar if you’re not local) if running is something that makes you nervous, the support and distraction of people around me has really helped. I also go with my Dad so that’s really fun and we normally go out for dinner afterwards, remember how I said my life revolves around going out for dinner?

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Use my code: Gemma5Day for a free five day guest pass at Fit4Less, Southampton.

Recovery: Stretching and recovery is so important to fit into your fitness routine, that includes days off and proper stretches – not just two minutes at the end! I’ve started at a new gym recently in Southampton called Fit4Less which is so perfectly equipped for the circuits I’m doing. Being self-employed, I go during the day when it’s quiet and get the entire studio pictured above to myself most times! They have lots of equipment perfect for the exercises I’m doing, really great treadmills for HiiT training but mostly I go for the yoga classes. I go twice a week but the Sunday class is my favourite, the woman that runs it really challenges you (whichever level you are) by giving multiple variations of each post. She talks through everything so well it’s easy to understand what you’re doing even if you’re not looking, she’s super motivating and more than anything the class is just a really great stretch session – particularly for my hips! Something that are bad anyway but with the running and squat jumps etc, a bit of a release on a Sunday is very, very welcome! If anyone would like to try it, it’s on London Road and if you pop in in person with my code Gemma5Day they will sort you a free five day guest pass!

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These are the sort of photos I mean when I say ‘proper progress photos’ – I have more from other angles for myself so you can see the overall change in your body. I can see I’m starting to build muscle and shape. My butt and legs are still cellulite hell at the back but I can see that it’s lifting and tightening a little so that those things are less noticeable.
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Abs and obliques can go from being there to nothing in such a short amount of time – even just different light.
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This is a bit of a cheat photo – first thing in the morning before breakfast, when I look my ‘skinniest’. I feel like the biggest change in my torso has been the way it seems to have lengthened!

My progress: I go really up and down with my idea of what good progress is. Sometimes I’ll feel great about it but then I’ll have a week or two where it all seems to go backwards. I’ve been having a really stressful time recently which doesn’t help but I think, as most women will know, your cycle can also really affect how you feel when you look in the mirror and physically how your body looks. I ended up taking my progress pictures a few days late for this reason, I just felt like crap. I know deep down that I don’t look crap but sometimes, taking unflattering photos of yourself with gross hair, spots and in your underwear doesn’t seem like the most exciting use of your time! I can see now though that my abs and obliques are really coming on! I’m till not sure about my leg/butt progress (seems a bit ‘much’ for me to be posting online anyway haha) but I can see it here. The advice I will continue to give is just snap photos as and when you notice changes or feel good about yourself. Try and force yourself to do ‘proper progress pictures’, too, but sometimes it’s nice to have the ones that you actually look good in so you can see! I look my best after the gym so I always end up taking a few photos as evidence before I shower, eat and inevitably look like I didn’t even work out haha. In general, though, my progress is really good and I’m really happy with myself – proud of Rachel, too. Most importantly, my confidence is coming back and the crop tops are coming to the front the of the shelves once more.

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Photo by Georgia Penny at Detention, Winchester.

If anyone would like to give one of the circuits a go then do as follows: For the weighted exercises, I recommend two 5kg-7kg weights depending on your fitness levels. Set a timer for seven minutes and repeat this sequence until you are saved by the bell, don’t hesitate, get to it: 30 x-Jumps (like a squat jump but you bend down to touch the opposite toe and alternate), 30 weighted step-ups onto a bench, 40 jump lunges and 15 tuck jumps. Now give yourself a two minute rest before resetting the timer and getting straight back to business: 15 sumo jump squats (wide legged), 15 split squats (feet either side of a bench, squat until your butt touches it and then jump up onto the bench), 24 weighted lunges and 15 broad jump burpees (after the burpee, come up into a squat and jump forward) – repeat this until the alarm rings. Two minutes rest, repeat both sets again. If you’re still alive.

You can now download Sweat With Kayla which is a new routine by the same woman that designed this guide, I haven’t used it myself but it’s a fitness app that is constantly changing. Alternatively, there are lots of great work outs for free online.

Thanks for reading, I will be writing another update at the final 12week stage of this program, leave any questions or ideas as a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them in the next update to this fitness series!

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