TRAINING: Getting back at it after a needed break

I am a firm believer in taking a solid break around every two or three months when training. Apart from a much needed rest day in a normal week, I feel that taking a 3-5 day break every now and then really benefits me in more ways than one.

For starters, I tend to get bored pretty easily. Whether it is running or BBG or gymming or whatever, after a couple of weeks, exercising seems mundane and I lose my motivation. When I feel like this, I know that it is time to take a quick break. When I wake up on the first day of this break I am so excited. I take my time with my coffee, wash and straighten my hair knowing that I will be able to keep it that way for a couple of days (all of you girls know the struggle of having perfect hair in the morning, only to sweat it up that afternoon). I love having that little bit of extra time in my day that I usually spent training.

I savour these days… and to be honest, I sometimes take them a little bit too seriously. Bread seems to creep into my diet more frequently and I sometimes make the 3-5 day break a 7-day break, which is obviously not the best thing, but I’m only human and bread is delicious. It is very important, though, for these short breaks not to turn into long breaks.

I took one of these breaks while I was in New York at the beginning of April. I ran a half marathon in Brooklyn on the 1st and then felt the need to take a break. I initially planned to take 3 days off, my body really needed the rest physically, but after those 3 days were over I realised that I not only needed to rest my body, but I needed to give myself a break from the routine. So, my 3 day break turned into a 8-day break thanks to travelling for 2 days straight as well. This was a bit to long for my comfort, but I was so ready to start again as soon as I got home.

The only problem with taking a break is getting started again. The hardest part for me is knowing where I was before the break, expecting to be able to run the same distance with ease and then being disappointed that I can barely manage half of the distance the day I start again. I then take a step back and approach this “starting again” differently. Over the years I have learned a few things that helped me get back into my routine as quickly and effectively as possible.

My tips for getting back at it:

1. Forget everything you did or didn’t do when you were taking a break.

If you feel guilty about not training or having a couple of treats, don’t.

2. Start your first day with a walk

The hardest part of getting back at is, is putting on your trainers for the first time. I usually trick myself to get moving by convincing myself that I just have to go for a walk, that’s all. Sometimes I just walk and that’s fine and sometimes my walk turns into a run, which is great.

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself the first week (i.t.o your diet as well as your training)

A start is a start. Rather focus on just getting your body moving instead of trying to perfect your routine.

4. Set new goals

It’s important to set goals beyond just trying to get back to where you were. You need to find something that drives you to train harder than before, that’s part of the beauty of taking a break.

5. Find some kind of motivation that really resonates with you

We all train and exercise for different reasons. Don’t just look at “fitspo” on Instagram, find something deeper, better. Find the inspiration that works for YOU.

6. Find the joy again

Remember that you love this. You love looking after your body. You love feeling free and strong and healthy. I know that I am a completely different person after a run/workout than I was before. I always forget how much I love training, taking a break like this is always needed, but it’s the getting back at it that always makes me remember.

I had to apply these tips to myself 2 weeks ago. Although not being 100% on top of my training just yet, I am getting there.

I am definitely not the perfect health-person or whatever. But, although not being perfect, I actually learned from experience how to get started after stopping (for whatever reason it may have been).

Just start, guys. However small or insignificant the step that you are taking may feel. It’s a step in the right direction.

I started with Kayla Itsines’ BBG program again last week. I decided that I missed it after rereading the post I wrote after finishing the program last year (read the post here).

I guess I was my own inspiration this time haha

Keep posted.

Love, AndyBee

 

 

the trick to being healthy, fit and strong

It’s your mindset. The trick, I mean. The one to being healthy, fit and strong.

I have to say, it’s easier said than done. It requires a lot of training. Training your mind to HELP you instead of putting you down, of holding you back, of pushing you off track. I swear, the hardest part of getting into a good and healthy workout routine is the battle with your mind. It’s usually your mind that says “you can’t” or “I will never look like that” or “don’t even try”.

To be honest, I haven’t quite got to the point where I have my mind 100% on my team.

But, I have found a girl who has. Her name is Renee and she is the most positive and inspiring person I have ever come across.

I met Renee De Beer (she was then still Renee Barnard) when I was in Grade 10. We were in different schools and she is a year my senior, but I was lucky enough to serve with her on the Junior City Council of Pretoria. It wasn’t just the fact that she was the Junior Deputy Mayor who always had a smile on her face (although it was that too) that she caught my immediate attention…it was her legs.

Renee is one of those people who seems like she has everything together all the time. When she first popped on to my radar 8 years ago she was head girl of her school, an athlete, smart, beautiful and she could sing. I mean, where does people like this in the real world exist? Apparently here.

So, after a couple of years, I randomly see a photo of this girl I used to know from High School on my Facebook feed. You know when some-one you know liked a photo of some-one they know and it ends up on your feed for some bizarre reason? Well, that happened to me. I clicked and clicked and clicked and ended up on the healthy.fit.strong Instagram page. Sometimes I just get too damn lucky.

Okay, I’ll try to get to the point.. This is the girl you HAVE to follow. Please, do yourself the favour. Her page has everything- from the inspirational YOU CAN DO THIS-Monday posts, to the reality check of giving yourself a break once in a while. I feel that sometimes I don’t even have to see her perfect legs and enviable abs to be inspired to go for my run, but just her super positive attitude and words of wisdom. Her captions on Instagram are basically my daily dose of motivation.

The thing that I love most about Renee and her Instagram page is that she is completely realistic. I know we all see girls on social media with bodies that we admire, hope for and train for, but have no idea how they do it. Most of them train or model full time, and although I have a lot of respect for them, it doesn’t seem attainable for us mere mortals. But, here is a girl who is just like us. A teacher from South Africa, who gives these models and trainers a run for their money. A girl who made me realise that I can do it too, I just have to start.

Many girls struggle with self-love and accepting their bodies and even though social media is one of the main causes of self-doubt and feelings of insecurity, it can also be a platform of inspiration to be better than you are now and advocation of loving who you are. We see this in girls like Renee, who utilises and embraces this platform to inspire girls like you and me to get up in the morning, look ourselves in the mirror and (although we don’t love what we see just yet), we are happy and ready to take the day and work on being better.

I know that she speaks from experience when she says she has had a rocky past when it comes to body love and balance. She has shared a couple of posts where she explains that she hasn’t always been as confident and happy with her body as she is now. She has had struggles with under eating and over training in her past, but I feel that you should head over to her page and hear it from her. All I know is that she knows what she is talking about. She knows what it’s like.

I have learned a lot from Renee over the last 2 years that I have followed her and seen her grow on Instagram. Although she doesn’t know it, she is the reason I put on my trainers a year ago and got my ass of the couch to go for a run. I wanted to feel as confident and free as she found herself to be.

That run was the first of many and I haven’t stopped since (with the help of my daily healthy.fit.strong inspo).

Once again, click right here to step into the world of positive body image, motivation and fitspo!

Have a great weekend. Remember to go for a walk and drink lots of water (or some wine, your choice!). I will be spending my weekend playing around with my sewing machine and pushing myself for a 17km long run tomorrow morning.

Chat soon

A B xx

 

taking your training outdoors

Hi guys,

For the past 2 weeks I have been going to the gym in the morning, doing  Abbie Sterling (better known as “Corporate Sneakers“)’s My Best Body 3-week trial program, and then going for a walk or sprint session after my 9-5 internship with my friend Nicole on the Sea Point Promenade

Even though the afternoon cardio session wasn’t my main workout for the day, I feel that it almost benefitted me more than my morning gym session. To be honest, it took some motivation to put on my Nikes after getting up at 5am and spending the whole day at the office (we once even ended up going for a glass of wine instead of our workout), but ending my day with an elevated heartbeat and a breath of fresh air was the best decision I made every day.

I absolutely believe in training outdoors. I feel that it can benefit you, your training and your motivation in more ways than one. Taking my running outside was what got me active and fit again at the beginning of this year and what is getting me motivated and excited now.

I do, however, know that it is not always feasible to do so – there are so many things that you may feel stands in your way. I didn’t train outside once during the 3 winter-months. With the  Cape getting a hell of a lot of winter rain, the cold and the fact that the only time that I had in the day to workout was between 6am and 8am throughout the week (which means it’s still dark).

I stuck to the inside of the gym and it was great. It got me out of bed, knowing that I don’t have to run in the rain/dark, the structure of the gym and the other people working out around me was motivating and exactly what I needed to set my routine in stone.

BUT

I believe that for training and working out to be a lifestyle, you need to mix it up a little. I believe that the best way of doing this is to train outdoors. I just started running again after a 4 month break and it just reinforced my belief in the goodness and benefits of training with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.

Here are some of the benefits that I found from training outdoors.

1.It provides great diversity to your workout

Even if your actual workout is the same, the environment around you is ever changing. This means that it never actually feels like you are repeating a workout, making your chances of getting bored slim.

2. It gets you going

I have this trick: whenever I don’t feel like going to the gym, I tell myself that I just have to go for an easy walk outside. Easy enough. More often than not, being outside and getting some fresh air in my lungs, gets me going and before I know it I have either run a couple of kilometers, done some sprints or finished a good stair workout.

3.Vitamin D

The sun gives you energy. Combining your workout endorphin with a good dose of vitamin D works wonders. I am always more energised during an outdoor workout than its indoor counterpart. Besides the energy, vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system.

4. Mixing it up

Training outdoors provides you with the opportunity to do something different. You can run hills, do sprints, use stairs. One of my favourite exercises to do outside is HIIT. My go-to workout would be to sprint for the distance of 2 lamp posts and then walk for one. I have no worries of timers or anything like that, I just focus on getting to the next lamp post as fast as I can.

5. You can do it with a friend

We all know that you sometimes need an extra bit of support to get yourself to work out. Having a training partner can; firstly, help you get motivated to actually start working out and, secondly, push you to do more and do better. When one or both of you doesn’t have a gym membership, it’s no excuse to skip sweating all together.

All-in-all, whether it’s because you need a break from the gym, need some extra motivation or don’t have a gym membership.. training outside is the best decision you can possibly make for yourself and your fitness.

Have a happy week

love

A B x

 

kayla itsines bbg program REVIEW

I just finished Kayla Itsines’ BBG program today! I did the last (week 12 abs) workout this morning at 5:30 before I had to be on campus at 8. I would like to share my thoughts on her program, what I learned and how it benefitted me.

I started the BBG program after my trip to Vietnam. I have started it about 2 times prior to this, but never completed it. The first time I got to week 3 and the second to week 9. Both of these times I started out very motivated, but life got in the way in the form of summer holidays or exams.

A brief overview of the 12-week program:

The BBG program is a 12-week program which includes 3 gym sessions each week with additional cardio throughout the week and some HIIT sets in the last month. the gym sessions are broken down into cardio, legs, arms and abs. The gym sessions consist of four 7-minute sessions in which you complete as many cycles of the exercises provided in each of the 7 minutes. Each month the intensity of the sessions increase in terms of level of difficulty as well as the amount of reps for each exercise.

How I approached the program:

I didn’t follow the program to a T, I mean I did all her workouts, but in terms of the additional LISS and HIIT, I did my own program on the days that I didn’t do Kayla. On Tuesdays I would do 40mins of intense cardio on the tredmill and the stepper and would then move over to the assisted pull up bar for some good arm, back and ab exercise. On Thursdays I would do a heavier leg session as Kayla’s legs are a lot more plyometrics (which are great), but I wanted to add an extra weight session as well. On the Fridays of the last 6 weeks I would do a spin class before my Kayla abs. I would then also do one more cardio session somewhere in the week.

What I experienced:

So, overall, I benefitted a hell of a lot from this program. It didn’t really tranform the way I look (I do have new muscle definition that I didn’t have before), but my strength and fitness increased tremendously! We all know that fitness takes time and that, wherever you are in your journey, there are exercises and moves that kills you.. I felt that every Kayla workout was a major challenge for me and I was shaking after each one of them. There were, however, certain things that made me recognise my fitness progress.

The first: I am a lot stronger (no, not bulky) and in control of my body.

When I started the 3 months I couldn’t do 5 push ups before I had to change to doing ladies push ups on my knees. This was initially a huge shock to me as I have always had strong arms (years of swimming and my mamma’s genes), but that made me just push a little harder. In this last week’s arm workout I did a total of 336 pushups -ALL of them ‘normal’ push ups, not ladies – in the 34 minutes, all with different variations including burpee-push up-tuck jump and some more arm exercises in between. I’d say that’s a pretty huge achievement. This goes for the rest of my body as well; lunges, burpees, jack knifes – all easier.

The second: It drastically improved my running.

Although  I didn’t run for the whole duration of the 3-month program, I got right back into running, starting my first week of running with a 6km, 8km and 10km with ease. It could honestly have been a lot further, with the rain and time forcing me to stop. I feel my running have improved substantially. I am stronger and fitter, taking on long hills without stopping and also increasing my pace. I can easily include a couple of sprints in my runs as well.

The third: I have no plans of stopping.

Kayla’s program was the kickstart to the rest of my workout habit. I now have a base on which I can build and improve. I do feel that I need a bit of a break from the program, not because it doesn’t work, but I need a bit of a change. I am some-one who needs to mix it up on a regular basis to avoid getting bored. I loved doing BBG, but I am ready for a new challenge and routine. I want to increase my running, as this is my first love, and start entering races as soon as I feel ready. I want to add another element to my training as well, but I am still figuring out what I want to do. All I know is that I don’t want to stop.

How it can benefit you:

I have realised that many girls don’t really know what to do when they get to the gym and end up going back to the tredmill and elliptical. Kayla’s program will push you and teach you. It will give structure to your workout routine, allowing you to build on the weeks that you have already completed and focus on those to come. The program is also amazing for people who are already in a workout routine as it provides a source of alternative workouts which can add to your existing program, imporving the other aspects of your training (as I have seen with my running).

All-in-all, I would recommend  this program to anyone! I do believe that this is an amazing program to get you into a good exercise routine or as a change to your current one.

I will keep you posted on my training plans for the future.

A B out

 

 

 

real talk. my fitness history – how i eventually found balance

Before I post anything else health or fitness related, advise or inspiration – I just want to put this out there:

I am actually very lucky – I was born into a fit, able and healthy family. being outdoors, playing sports and exercising has always been a way of life for me.

When I was younger, my mom used to chase us outside whenever she saw us in the house when the sun was shining (which basically means very day). Playing outside meant racing with our bicycles, jumping on the trampoline for hours, swimming until it’s dark out and playing cricket in the garden.

Throughout my whole school career I was a dedicated swimmer and lifesaver, athlete, field hockey player and horse rider. It was just part of school. I never thought that I exercised to be toned or skinny or whatever. I did it for the competition, the team, the fun, the passion… I felt super confident in my own skin even though high school is one of the more awkward stages of your life.

It was when I took my gap year after high school that things started to change.

Just to give you some context: After I graduated high school at the end of 2011, I left everything behind for a year of adventure. I was 18 years old (a baby) when I set out for the great big world. I started my year with a couple of months in Sydney, Australia, doing an internship while becoming a dive instructor, did a stint in the Great Barrier Reef on a live-aboard boat and then headed to the island of Taveuni in Fiji for the rest of the year (More about this another time).

With my new found “freedom” I didn’t even consider exercising, probably because I now had to make the choice solely on my own. I went to the local pub every afternoon after a full day of diving and having a couple of beers or ciders and I ate whatever I wanted. This has never been a problem for me as we always had healthy food in the house and I was very active, but then I was suddenly in control of all my meals. This meant cheap and easy food, also called CRAP (Carbonated drinks, Refined sugars, Artificial sweeteners and colours and Processed food).

I only realised that something about my body has changed when I struggled to fit into my favourite pair of jean shorts, although I didn’t think much of it at the time. I half-heartily attempted to do something about this new found weight gain, going for a run but turning around soon as it became too hard, so obviously I didn’t change my habits.

In June I got the job in Fiji.

By the time I left Sydney I was around 10kg heavier than when I arrived there in January. I realised this when I was weighing my luggage the night before my flight and decided to step on the scale myself. I was actually in shock. For the first time in my life I was overweight. I then made a choice to change my lifestyle and eating habits. No more beer, bread and sugars. I really wanted to make this work…

As part of my employment, I received all meals at the resort as the closest town/shop was 3 hours’ walk. The meals started out okay, I cut the bread and filled up on the meat and veggies I received. I was working 6am-10pm six days a week and became exhausted (One dive burns the same amount of calories as 45 minutes on the treadmill – I was doing 3 dives a day) . I needed some good energy, but the staff meals were an absolute shame, for example, at lunch I would receive one tiny piece of fish of about 150 gram and a big bowl of white rice. I didn’t want to fill up on all that rice, but I was in a state of constant hunger. I then began to eat whatever I could find.

I would eat everything the guests left over in the lunch we packed on the boat for the day’s dives, fill up on a milkshake as soon as I get back to shore and anything else the kitchen would give me – usually some bread or ice-cream or chips. Not good, but I was losing weight as I was burning much more energy that I was consuming, despite the milkshakes.

This lifestyle, however, wasn’t sustainable. By the time I left Fiji in October, I was down 7kgs which I picked back up in a week from being back home and eating ‘normal’ food. My body was deprived. Absorbing every calorie that I consumed. I was back where I was a couple of months before.

This is where the hardest part started. I was back home, in an environment that was just as I had left it a year before, but I had changed. Physically. I was unhappy with the way I looked, felt and was looked at. I decided to change, ended up overtraining and under eating. Lost weight. Quit. Gained weight.

Over trained and under ate.

Lost weight.

Quit.

Gained weight.

This was the cycle I was in for three years.

Throughout my university career I would go through stages of being the epiphany of a health-conscious-fit-girl to letting go. In all of these stages I was very good at convincing myself that there is nothing wrong with my balance, until that one day that I would just take a 180-degree turn to the other direction. I was constantly taking 2 steps forward and one step back. This meant that I always felt that I was exercising and doing all the “right things”, but never getting anywhere.

I know that by the end of last year (my third year at university) I looked and felt significantly better than THAT year, but I was just not there yet. Not satisfied with what I have achieved…and still not finding the balance. Luckily I was slowly becoming aware of this.

My change of habit and mentality didn’t happen overnight. It’s not that easy. For the first 2 months of this year I couldn’t get myself to put on my Nikes, just get my ass out the door and my heart rate elevated. It took me dozens of  the classic “I will start tomorrow”-promises to take the first step…one very hard, unfit, unmotivated step.

The steps became easier and soon I was running 6 kilometre runs daily. Then 8 kilometres. Then 1o kilometres with 14km runs on the weekend. I loved it. I felt on top of the world. Healthy and fit. Then I got bored. I wasn’t excited for my runs anymore.

I had to change things up quickly, before falling into one of this stagnant dips. I joined the gym, got into a good routine and then went on a month long holiday in which I didn’t exercise once. Came back and started Kayla Itsines’ BBG program with some extra cardio and weight training.

I am another person. I am starting to see changes to my body, I am eating whole foods, exercising 5/6 times a week, having snacks when I feel I need the extra energy and avoiding the gym when I feel my body needs rest.

I am ready to say that I found the life-health balance and that I am building on this. I am enjoying this lifestyle, although I sometimes need to remind myself that (in cases when I am on the verge of overtraining) I can’t miss 95% of my life to lose 5% body fat and in the cases where I am in a bit of a dip, that I absolutely love working out.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I know what it is like.

Everything I post on my blog, fitness-wise, will be things that I really believe in. Workouts and programs that I have learned through trial and error. What worked for me and what doesn’t. I really hope that I can provide you with some valuable tips, inspiration and guidance.

That’s all for now.

love

A B x