Up next in my ongoing series of fitness posts, I thought I’d share some of the habits that form part of my daily life. Now a hero of mine, you know him ; Aristotle, asserted ‘we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit‘ and it this these tiny rituals that I cycle through daily that have helped me along in my fitness journey or what I have coined ‘my muscle mission’. They aren’t expensive or time costly, but their impact is impressive. It’s not about going to the gym once a month or drinking litres of water once a week, its about finding a way to incorporate these routines into your life forever. The fellow exercise & health aficionados I know and love regard their gym or eating routines in the same way most people feel about washing their hair, its something they have to do for the rest of their existence. Rushing or cramming doesn’t work, you have to take the long haul and engrave the mantra into both your brain and bones. And how do you do that? By incorporting easy, achieveable habits, one by one slowly into your schedule until one day you’ll wake up and realize that these tiny things you do? They define you. They make you great. They are why you will live a longer, happier life. And you’ll look better in a bikini too, but that’s entirely secondary to what I’m expressing today.
1. hydration: compulsive water drinking
We are mostly made of water, it keeps our skin, muscles and everything else supple – and most of us don’t drink enough of it. We quench our thirst with horrible alternatives, like coke or sugar-filled factory churned juices or even coffee. Now, I don’t get aggressive about politics or religion or finance, but when someone tells me they don’t drink water, I can’t help but gasp with disapproval. I am obsessive about my water intake, if I don’t have a bottle at hand or in my bag, I feel comically anxious. I drink it all day and especially intensely just before bed and when I wake up too. A few months ago, my mother suggested chugging through an entire litre as soon as I get out of bed – I cannot believe I haven’t been doing this my entire life. It wakes me up in a way even coffee can’t and minutes after waking up, I’m already winning the inner hydration game I play everyday, yes I’m that lame. Water is why I so rarely get blemishes, I attribute some of my crazy hair growth to it too, it’s why I’ve managed to lose weight but maintain muscle and it’s a beast when it comes to beating lethargy. Water also washes out detoxes, curbs appetite and makes you smell better, it stops BO! If those aren’t reasons to go grab a swig right now then I don’t know what is! I also love infused waters, lemon especially – cucumber and mint is delicious too, hence the Dropbottle in my hand – if you crave flavour in the water you drink, I really recommend investing in one of these cool looking bottles. But ultimately, water is the liquid of life, just gulp it okay? Gulp and gulp, all day!
2. pressed for time: free weights at home
I work a lot of hours, typically clocking int 16 hours days and sometimes I simply don’t have the time to skip over to the gym, especially if I have an event or meetings in the early evening. It happens to us all, life is busy. Now, I’ve already suggested an at-home abdominal bench (you can read that post here) but I also have free weights tucked into a closet in my apartment. I pull these out when I can’t make it to the gym – I’ll do my entire free weight arm workout next to the rows of shoes in my walk in wardrobe. Or sometimes, late at night or when hours at the computer leaves me restless, I’ll haul myself up and go do some reps. Now, time aside, the power of excuse is a compelling force in our lives, so you have to make exercising as convenient as possible. So, even if you aren’t a member of a gym, you can still get a pretty complete workout in at home with a set of free-weights, and they will cost you no more than 25 euros. I always feel pretty smug when I manage a bicep/ tricep/ shoulder workout an hour before I have to go a work event. It makes me feel committed and justifies the canapes I’ll probably eat out of boredom once I’m there. In terms of weight, I’d get adjustable, add-on versions; that way you can change and increase how much you are lifting. Mine are 20 kilo dumbbells and I use that weight for all my free-weight arm exercises. I also recommend you buy rubber covered weights, they won’t damage your floors and are safer too. I’ve dropped the metal versions on my feet too many times and let me tell you, it hurts!
3. supplements: an optimum additional
I have my Dad to thank for my belief in supplements, back when I was broke, he would stock my kitchen with all the vitals and then check in via phone calls to ensure I was taking them. He’s a fitness freak like that, you should see my brother in Berlin, he’s a muscle machine. But now that I’m an adult, I invest my own cash into these pills I take , and it’s quite a collection I swallow everyday. Now, I must emphasize, supplements are an added extra, not a replacement. You can’t eat junk all day and expect a few pills to keep you healthy. Nourishing your body correctly with clean eating and then adding in some extra nutrients via supplements is how it should be done. Here’s what I take: the Solgar multivitamin, Solgar Hair, Skin & Nails, Spirulina, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Collagen & Magnesium, Lycopene. The problem with supplements is that there are so many and each one screams tempting benefits. So often I’m at the organic supermarket and I’ll break out in a sweat, worrying that I might need EVERY SINGLE one but they are all expensive and what will I do?! Choose a key few that correspond with your goals and what you want to improve and stick to those. Once you’ve established those into your rhythm, look into additionals but don’t go overboard. Everyone has their favourites that they swear by, for example, basic vitamins aside, I favour collagen for my soon to be 30 year old skin. Lycopene, another non-essential, is the red pigment found in tomatoes that I take to enhance and protect my tanned skin. I’ve already spoken of the Forza green coffee pills I take for incredible, extra energy. I also drink a protein shake once daily, I prefer plant-based protein blended with 1 banana, some chia seeds & almond milk. Those of you who follow me on snapchat will have heard of my disappointment when I splurged on a 70 euro powder that was almost 1/3 sugar. I returned it but be careful, not all these powders are as healthy as they promise. Look carefully at the ingredients! After experimenting with a few different brands, I 100% recommend Pulsin & That Protein, both organic, sugar free, not entirely strange tasting and plant based too. And finally, since you always express a keen interest in supplements, I have a tweeted a photo of everything I take, which can be found right here.
4. gluten & processed sugars: evils, undeniably
Genuinely, I believe everyone should read Wheat Belly, written by a very smart doctor named Dr. William Davis, it affirmed all my bloating and weight loss struggles over the years. I am of that annoying belief that wheat is poison, not a welcomed opinion in Spain or France, where everyone eats delicious baskets of bread with everything. Such a shame, as I adore wheat. Ravioli makes me weak at the knees and I very often sit around dreaming up my perfect sandwich. The same goes for sugar, and not the kind in fruit but in cake or cookies, it’s satanic too. What I find most concerning is the sugar content in even the least sugary tasting foods, corporations are injecting this shit into everything we eat and we are all hooked like drug addicts. My first recommendation is to study everything you buy at the supermarket, you’ll be as appalled as I am. Buy foods in their natural state is also a fierce slice of advice. Anything processed is bad for you, simple as that. Don’t be too afraid of fats, they aren’t as detrimental as wheat or sugar, unless you are devouring mountains of bacon or steak, I don’t think it’s an ingredient that needs to be avoided. For example I eat an enormous amount of nuts and avocado, these sorts of foods never make me gain weight despite the high calorie and fat content. However, when I removed processed sugar and gluten from my diet, the results were shocking. I slimmed down and was no longer such a victim of bloating. I used to bloat ridiculously to a pregnant-looking level. For a few years now, I maintain a high protein, mostly plant based diet – I replace my gluten cravings with things like rice or oat crackers topped with pure peanut butter or an entire plate of scrambled egg whites sprinkled modestly in Parmesan cheese. Yogurt bowls piled with dried fruits and nuts, drizzled in agave is better than any dessert, I promise and I love eating these. A few weeks ago, I annihilated a slice of 3 tier red velvet cake and for hours after, I felt absolutely horrific. Now, that’s not to say I won’t do it again, there is the need for balance and sometimes you just crave eat the bad stuff. I usually do this on Sundays and I’m already excited for pizza or ravioli or another variation of the Audrey-dream sandwich. But very seriously, you are what you eat – switching out the poison in your daily diet will enhance your physical and mental mood incredibly.
5. cardio: an essential endorphin rush
Scroll back up to the last photo, look at my legs, I’ve not done a squat or weighted lunge in months. Does that sound arrogant? Probably, but you know I’m not. You also know, I’m an avid runner, I have been for over 11 years now. Cardio is the best sensation in the entire world, it’s better than sex, more exhilarating than drinking and I’m certain no drug could emulate the feeling of running as fast as you can with heavy, loud music pumping through your ears and right into your soul. During my HIIT sessions, my entire body turns to goosebumps and I feel almost atmospheric, it’s an absolute high and nothing else makes me feel so absolutely alive. If I had a religion, it would be running. Now people always assume I run for hours and hours, I used to but not for a while now. I do 30 minutes high speed running followed by 10-15 minutes of HIIT training. But, I’ve already told you that, what I want to say today is cardio is crucial, okay? Your heart has to beat insane, you need to sweat a sea and completely physically exhaust yourself, at least a couple times a week, or for me, everyday. Do it however you like, running, cycling, a spin class, dancing – but you owe it to yourself to release beautiful, addictive endorphins. Cardio keeps me happy, when I finish, I feel euphoric in a way I can’t even begin to explain. Prioritize it and start slow, 10 minutes, a month later, 15 and so on – just never ever stop.
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