Archive for September, 2012

Motivation how to find it and keep it!

Motivation, there are a variety of definitions out there to describe that ever resounding word, we often hear them when we are in the fitness game; whether it be for our health or for a more poignant goal like running a marathon or competing in a bodybuilding contest. One I found stood out to me this evening as I lay pondering this, which read:

“The psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behaviour”.

One thing I have seen from working with people who are aiming to get in shape is that they lack motivation. When I first made a decision that I wanted to be fit, I was laying in a hospital bed with 16 staples, 13 stitches, a drain from an open wound and 2 drips coming out of me. I was recovering from a major operation which involved a bowel resection, and in trawling through hundreds of books I had just finished one written by the world famous athlete Lance Armstrong.

Something within me, that little voice, connected with what he had written about and I immediately set about telling people that I was going to run a marathon. Consciously, I really and truly did want to run that marathon. It was what kept me going when I was struggling with the physio I had to learn to walk properly again, and I bought all the gear and numerous books; fully convinced that if I understood what I was about to do “academically” it would make my venture a whole lot easier.

The days passed, which turned to weeks, and then into months. A year passed. Two years! I still hadn’t run my marathon. It dawned on me: I wasn’t motivated. I didn’t really want to run a marathon! I didn’t want to spend hours and hours of my time getting fit. I have never been interested in sports, least of all anything involving running. My goal was one that was based on ego in some ways; I had looked at what I thought would be difficult and something I could brag about.

I had no purpose and no direction, as outlined in the above definition. My only goal was to run the marathon and prove to the world I could run 26.2 miles, there was nothing else to it. There was no subconscious drive or underlying factor that was embracing me when I woke up each morning. There was quite simply no reason for my action! I felt like a failure. I had set out to do something and I hadn’t achieved it. But there was so much more to this, and there was such a huge learning and an amazing revelation to come as a result of this step in my journey.

I was now able to take a step back and look at what really motivates me. What drives me as a person? What makes my heart dance, and my breathing get faster? And there it was: the idea of sculpting my body, like a beautiful piece of art. I was a shy child, but I blossomed into a confident and well spoken teenager, I loved to act and to be on stage.

I have had major battles with self image and self confidence since my early twenties; and tried every major diet you can think of. I knew I was risking my health as I have a severe case of Crohns disease and I did not care. I have ranged in weight massively and gone between a size 6 and a size 14. I was always slim in my late teens and ate absolute junk, smoking and drinking and generally abusing my body.

I have never suffered with an eating disorder but I have definitely had to overcome psychological problems around food and control. I spent about 3 years of my life bound to a “food diary”. I would literally break out in a sweat if I did not write down everything that passed my lips, and I would sit and evaluate the caloric intake, the fat content, sugar, carbohydrate and protein. I would hide my frame behind baggy clothes and could not stand anyone looking at me or giving me a compliment.

These are things that I am still battling with, but I know I am on the road to recovery. I have real motivation now! My goal is no longer out of reach, it’s happening every day. Every day, when I train hard or I eat healthily, I am sculpting my body to become a figure competitor. I have so many more baby goals- my clothes are shrinking, my body is shrinking and I have more energy than I have ever had in about 6 years.

I am going to be a show girl. I am going to be on the stage I always dreamed of. I am helping others as I work towards my goal and I get to work with other people, which is massively important to me and gives me greater motivation. This is a LIFE goal for me, it’s not a short term high. It is sustainable and obtainable, it is fun, exciting and I have met some amazing people already along the way.

My goal excites, enthrals and gives me motivation. It encapsulates my essence in so many ways. My goal is like a “new love”. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep. I won’t let anyone tell me it’s “wrong” or it “won’t work”; I treat it with the utmost respect and give it my all. I feel passion and commitment to it, I protect it and I cherish it, and it is instilled in me… not as a “dream”, but as a part of my life it is my motivation.

So in closing, I urge you all to take a moment today and reflect on what really motivates you? What can you see as an all important part of your life? What makes your heart beat faster? I found mine. Remember, the answer is usually on the inside.

Elle Mac

athlete workout motivation

This lady has no problem with motivation

Reducing Inflammation Through Your Diet

This week, I have chosen to research and look at reducing inflammation through your diet, as it is something I am learning to control at the moment.

This could be of interest to more people than you think- not only people with arthritis, IBS, Crohns Disease, Colitis and cardiovascular diseases are affected by inflammation. An aching back, cough, and headaches can also be signs of inflammation in our bodies. I’m going to look at the possible causes of inflammation, what foods can trigger it reducing inflammation through our diets.

It’s something I am very aware of as it causes a flare up of my disease and also chronic joint pain as I have arthritis as a result of Crohns Disease.

Having the right TYPES of fats and carbohydrates in your diet is integral to controlling pain and reducing inflammation.

1. OMEGA 3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS – Omega 3’s are a very powerful anti inflammatory agent and are found in most cold water fish, walnuts, flaxseed, canola oils, pumpkin seeds and tofu. An imbalance of omega 6 and 3 can cause inflammation.

Olive oil contains high amounts of oleic acid which is another type of anti inflammatory oil. Cold pressed olive oil is the least processed and the better choice, but remember it denatures when it is heated so try and avoid it when cooking if at all possible!

CLA, (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is another anti inflammatory which is naturally occurring but not consumed in high enough amounts to help reduce inflammation through diet. CLA is also said to be good for diabetes and preventing fat accumulation.

2. WHOLE GRAINS – Whole grains are an excellent source of fibre, and a high fibre diet can help to reduce inflammation. Whole grains contain bran and germ as well as the endosperm, in contrast to refined grains which only contain the endosperm. What I must mention at this point, is that IBS and IBD’s are TOTALLY different illnesses. Fibre can actually worsen your symptoms if you suffer from colitis or crohns disease- this is why there are no oats in my breakfast photo from this morning. You know your body best and it’s important you don’t force yourself to eat excessive amounts of fibre because someone else recommends it. Eat what you can deal with, and introduce it slowly.

3. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES – Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals which have anti-inflammatory properties. Umeboshi plums are pickled Japanese plums, which have a highly alkalising effect on the body (also helpful if you suffer with acid reflux!) They also stimulate digestion, reduce fatigue and promote the elimination of toxins. Fruits such as berries and cherries have been proven to be good at reducing inflammation.

4. PROTEIN – Possible animal sources that are shown to best at reducing inflammation are lean poultry, fish and seafood. Plant based sources include soy, tofu, nuts and seeds.

5. TURMERIC – Turmeric is shown to keep the protein which is in our bodies naturally that causes inflammation dormant. It has also proven to improve the symptoms of asthma as well as IBDs.

In addition to all of the above, it’s important to keep hydrated, and green tea has also been shown to reduce inflammation.


Remember, you know your own body best, and there will always be foods that you’re sensitive too, so listen to your body and rule those out accordingly.

First on the list of inflammatory foods is the one that “got me” at the weekend-

1. DAIRY PRODUCTS – Did you know as much as 60% of the worlds population cannot digest cows milk properly? Being able to digest milk beyond infancy is considered abnormal by awfully clever scientists, not the other way around.

If you are sensitive to milk it can trigger symptoms such as acne, hives, trouble breathing, skin rashes, stomach distress and/or constipation/diarrhea.

Remember to scan the ingredients list of different foods, it’s easy to avoid obvious dairy products but it’s also contained in foods such as bread, crackers and cereals.

Some great alternatives are goats, almond, coconut and hazelnut milk. Most coffee shops offer a dairy free version such as soya milk too.

It’s always worth cutting dairy for a little while to see if it actually benefits you. I know myself it makes me really unwell, and as long as I supplement my diet correctly I’m happy not to have it any more!

2. SUGAR – Culprit number TWO is SUGAR. Sugar has been proven, like it’s naughty sister DAIRY, to cause acne. I think the thing most people don’t account for are the hidden sugars in foods. Do you drink Coke? Drinking a can of that stuff is the equivalent of sucking on 10 sugar cubes.

Sugar also has many different names, so make sure you watch out for corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose and fructose.

If you have a really sweet tooth and you cannot live without some sweetness in your life, natural sweeteners like stevia and honey are better options. And let us not forget fruit, which also contains antioxidants and vitamins, and you can go for some of the inflammation reducing fruits I listed like blueberries and strawberries.

3. OMEGA 6 FATS – If you have an imbalance between the omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats in your diet, then as I said before, inflammation is bound to occur. Omega 6 fats are generally saturated and trans fats. Oils like sunflower, corn, soy, safflower and peanut contain high linoleic acid, which has a pro-inflammatory influence on the body. Also, many vegetable oils contain a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, and very less of omega-3. Too much of omega-6 and less of omega-3 in body promotes inflammation and increases the risk of chronic diseases.

4. NIGHTSHADE PLANTS – These include tomatoes, white potatoes, tobacco, red and green peppers. They provoke inflammation as they contain a chemical alkaloid known as solanine.


6. PROCESSED FOODS – Not only do these foods cause inflammation but they are full of empty calories too. It is the trans fats in the foods that cause the most harm, and foods such as pizza, burgers, hotdogs, potato fries, hot dogs, etc should be avoided.

7. ALCOHOL – Regular intake of alcohol can promote chronic inflammation. Try having non alcoholic fruit juice punch in the hot summer months.

These points may not remove the problem but they should reduce it. Give them time, it took years to do the damage to your body, so if it takes months BE PATIENT!

Elle Mac

Prep Coach – Choosing a Good One

Every good prep coach will explain his advice

Every good prep coach will take time to explain

Recently, I have noticed that a lot of people have been going to “coaches” for guidance to achieve their fitness goals, only to be provided with poor information, misleading guidance and to be let down when they need it the most. Whether you are just starting out in your chosen sport, or you are more experienced in it, how do you choose a good prep coach?

  1. Find them, don’t jump in if they “find” you

If you have decided that you want the help and guidance of a prep coach, make sure it is your decision to search for the right person to assist you, and not the other way around. Anyone who constantly pressures you to come on board as their “client” for a fee, is more than likely looking for your money and does not have your better interests at heart.

2. Know what you are getting

There are many different “types” of coaches that can assist you in achieving your goals. A life coach will assist you and work alongside you in setting your goals and ensure that they hold you accountable. They may be qualified to help you get to the root of WHY you eat, and how to reprogramme yourself to believe in what you are doing.

A nutritional coach should be qualified to give you sound nutritional advice. Some coaches don’t have paper qualifications but they have a lot of experience, but if they ever give you advice and they cannot explain WHY they are telling you to do something – don’t do it! Their knowledge of the human body, diet, sports nutrition and human physiology should be second to none.

I don’t believe in the concept of “look at who they helped before and the results speak for themselves”. You can never be certain that their previous clients have followed their advice 100%, and genetics may have a role to play in their accomplishments. A basic understanding of human physiology is essential. Of course, previous clients should be looked at for a loose guideline but just because someone else has won a trophy or a medal, doesn’t mean that you will too.

A training coach should have a deep understanding of bio mechanics, as the risk of injury or training incorrectly, over training or not training enough is too high. When you are standing on a stage, or at the start of a race, or taking on a mountain trek, do you want to be uncertain as to whether you are up to scratch?

Some people advocate themselves as a competition prep coach, but just because someone has competed before or trained for a long time; it does not mean that they are an expert in what they are telling you to do.  You must know what you are getting from that relationship with that coach, be clear as to whether they are officially qualified to provide you with that guidance, and if they aren’t, then ensure that you are happy with the knowledge they do have. Number one tip is to ask WHY, and if they cannot answer, DO NOT DO IT!

Make sure that you are clear on the boundaries and how often you can contact your coach, and similarly how often they can contact you.

3. Beware of the Google fiend

A lot of people get their information from the internet, and advocate themselves to be an “expert” in their self professed career. Information shared on the internet is largely opinion only, and when someone backs up an opinion, and someone else backs up their opinion, it can spiral into building the reputation of the person who provided the information in the first place. Having a lot of Facebook friends, followers on Twitter, or having provided guidance to a certain number of people does not mean that the person is an expert.

Be sure that you check their credibility, as bad advice will only affect you in the long run. Why not contact one of the people they claim to have helped and ask them how this person was as a prep coach>

4. Work WITH your prep coach, they are there to assist not command, question everything – it’s the only way you will learn!

Any relationship should not be one sided. If you are not happy or comfortable with what you are being told to do it, then do not do it. Ask the magical question: “WHY?” and if you are not happy with the answer or you do not feel this is the right route for you, take a step back and speak up.

If your prep coach has your best interests at heart, they will work WITH you to find another route to your goal. You should always be happy with what you are doing, as your coach also needs to know that you are following their advice to the letter, or they will not know where they are going wrong if something does not work out.

Always be honest, do not be afraid to speak up (especially where you are paying for the service), and do what feels right for you. You know yourself better than anybody else. Tell them if you’ve screwed up in some way – they need the whole story!

5. Do not be led to believe something is more difficult than it is.

A lot of the time, a person will pay for advice because they are told that it is not possible to have a go at doing something on their own. Whether it’s a bodybuilding competition, preparation for a fight, a marathon or simply being taught how to pose properly, it is not rocket science!

Some practices and procedures are more complicated than others, but remember, many people would not have managed to achieve great things on their own and learned a LOT in the process.

6. Read a contract before you sign it

If your prep coach asks you to sign into a contract, make sure that you read it first and fully understand what you are signing. Make sure that you are not being tied into making payments even if you choose not to continue to work with that coach. Talk to your prep coach before you make any decisions as to whether you would like to work with them.

If they are professional about their work and serious about helping you, with your interests at heart, they will no doubt be happy to talk to you first so that you get a feel for who you will be working with, and you can decide whether working with that person is the right decision for you.

7. Ensure that your plan is tailor made to suit you

The “one size fits all” approach does not work. We are all composed of different matter; hormonally, psychologically, intellectually, and physiologically. Ensure that your plan suits you and your needs. A good prep coach will be able to sit with you, question you, and identify what your personal requirements are. If you pay money for the service you receive, then you have every entitlement to receive a tailor made plan.

No one plan or coaching approach will work for everyone.

I hope that this information helps you in finding a prep coach that is right for you. All of the above is my opinion on the matter, but it is something I want to put out there to people, so that they are sure what they are getting into before they sign up for anything. Having some basic knowledge and doing a bit of research could be a blessing for you in the future.

~~Elle Mac~~

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