Archive for the ‘Elle Mac’ Category

Give Your Body a Boost!

    Give Your Body a Boost this winter.

According to my car today, it’s minus 1.5 degrees which means that winter is well and truly setting in! Now, more than ever, it’s important to give your body a boost and to look after it and your health so that you survive the winter without getting run down or catching any infections like cold or flu.

Here are some tips to ensure you give your body a boost that it will keep you at your best this winter:

  1. 1. Get plenty of sleep

Try and stick with a regular bedtime and time that you wake up. Getting lots of sleep ensures that your body recovers properly (especially when you are training), and it encourages the production of those all important white blood cells, which are essential for fighting disease along with the highly anabolic, fat burning, natural human Growth Hormone which is secreted during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep..

2. Eat immune boosting foods
One of the best ways give your body a boost through the winter is to keep an eye on what you are eating. Your food is your fuel, and you have to think that you will “run” better on the best fuel that you can provide. Your immune system needs key vitamins and nutrients, including zinc, copper, iron and protein. You will find the vitamins and minerals you need in colourful foods, nuts and seeds. Buy these fresh, tinned/frozen/preserved versions have normally a fraction of the benefits of fresh produce.

Berries, broccoli and citrus fruits should all be a key part of your diet this winter. Pineapple is known for it’s anti inflammatory properties and could also help you to recover more quickly from your workouts.

3. Work Out
Exercise strengthens your immune cells which helps fight off infection. It doesn’t matter so much what exercise you do, just get do something. Exercise also causes a release of endorphins which have a euphoric effect, making you feel better within yourself, physically and mentally.

~Elle Mac~

Winter training

Incline bench pressing

Set Your Goals with No Excuses

This week, the topic I've chosen is on how to set your goals with no excuses. We all do it- and I believe that occasionally an excuse is a subconscious reaction as oppose to an intentional conscious decision.

So how do we learn to identify when we are making excuses when we "don't really mean it"? I've written out some common excuses below, with my own very brief breakdown on each.

1. I'm too tired.
Are you really too tired? If you sit for more than 10 minutes, are you falling asleep? Are you struggling to do basic everyday activities such as walking, carrying things or bending down? Sometimes our minds play tricks on us and tell us we are too tired, as an excuse to relax and do very little activity. If you do answer yes to any of the above, then REST! YOU'RE TIRED! It can be beneficial to take time off when you need it too.

2. My friend is on holiday and I always train with him/her.
I think a common and easy trap to fall into is to depend on someone else. This is acceptable when you're starting out, because sometimes you need a leaning post. After approximately 4-6 weeks, in my opinion it's imperative for you to become SELF motivated. External factors shouldn't matter, least of all whether you have a companion. If you feel self conscious about training alone, just remember that people notice two people more than they notice just one.

3. I want to lose a bit of weight first before I go to the gym.
Oh yes, I'm all too familiar with this little beauty of an excuse. Here is my little breakdown:- 
(A) weight doesn't matter. I gained 10lb in my first 3-4 weeks of training. 
(B) aren't you supposed to go to the gym to work at getting leaner, fitter and healthier? Why put that off? 
(C) Less people judge you than you might think- they will respect you for making an effort to change your body. 
(D) Exercise speeds up your metabolism, makes you feel stronger, and makes you feel healthy and full of energy... Why wait?

4. I've got an illness or medical condition.
I am NOT discrediting anyone or their ailments- not for one second. Some people genuinely cannot train or eat regularly, I totally 100% respect that. But don't use your ailments as an excuse. I have Crohns Disease- some days, I can genuinely only eat once a day, and some days I can't train. But I don't let it stand in the way of the days I CAN do something. 
Also, I think it's a fair assessment to say that sometimes your symptoms aren't a result of your illness or disease. Consider all your other lifestyle choices and how they might possibly affect the way you feel and your health before you assume it's a result of your illness.

5. I'll start Monday, that way it'll be starting afresh on a new week.
I encourage all of my clients to start straight away- as soon as we make contact. Most people who have the "I'll start Monday" syndrome fail. They also use it as an excuse to binge eat all week, then it repeats in a vicious cycle. There is NO SUCH THING as "being good"- you MUST adopt the attitude that you are making a lifestyle change. Having an "on/off a diet" mentality leads to failure. 

Start now! Your body has no idea what day it is. Your body will start working sooner, the sooner you work it! Good nutrition, a structured training program and the right attitude are all we need to reach our destination - maybe a bit more patience too. Remember, you may have 30 years of being skinny or fat under your belt, becoming a physique model won't happen overnight!

In closing, I would like to highlight that there are people in the world who genuinely don't want to train too. I see people point the finger all the time and say "they're making excuses", when in fact they're exercising their right to personal choice! 

For those of you who want to lose fat, keep fit and stay healthy it is essential you learn how to set your goals with no excuses; we know that excuses can be our biggest obstacle and are a way of setting ourselves up to fail. I hope that you now have some tips in how to overcome these negative thoughts and reasons to accept defeat. :-)

~ Elle Mac ~
Set your goals

Set Your Goals with No Excuses

Christmas Fun without Piling on the Pounds

As the end of the week approaches, I’m eyeing up my calendar and realising that we have no free weekends until next year, and the “social season” approaches. As most of us know, the Christmas Fun season involves lots of food and lots of drink, but it doesn’t always have to mean packing on the pounds! Here are my tips for Christmas Fun that won’t leave you looking (and feeling!) like a Christmas turkey:-

1.   Be the Designated Driver

Most parties involve alcohol, the attitude of “eat, drink and be merry”, and this can mean dangerous empty calories, hangovers leading to letting training and diet slip, and late nights. Having a couple of nights out isn’t the end of the world, but going out every weekend between now and January won’t do wonders for your health, or your waistline. Perhaps take it in turns with friends to be the designated driver for the night- that way, you can have your night out too. My previous article on alcohol and the ill effects might give you a few things to think about that might change your mind about drinking!

2.   Don’t Go Out Hungry

If you are going somewhere where you know there will be food, make sure you eat first if you don’t want to fall victim to the attractive spread of nibbles or the dessert on the menu when you go out or visit people. This includes going to do your shopping- people who go and do their food shopping hungry always buy more than they need, and be sure to bring a list with you!

3.   Bring Emergency Rations

If you know that you will be traveling or you will be out and about for a while, bring some prepared food with you or a protein shake (I love my new Extreme Nutrition Turbo shaker, I can bring more than one scoop around with me!) Never make the excuse in your mind that you are hungry, so “eating a little something that’s naughty is OK”, because you will probably regret it afterwards.

4.   Don’t be Afraid to Say NO!

One thing I cannot stand is when people try to pressure you into eating or drinking something that you do not want. I probably find it a little easier, because I have Crohns Disease and I can explain that certain foods just don’t agree with me. I have been known to tell clients in the past that a little white lie about a food allergy hurts nobody; it prevents the endless questions about your “diet”, and stops people sabotaging what you are doing, whether they mean to or not.

5.   Be Strong

Remember WHY you choose to eat clean- think of all the reasons you want to eat a healthy diet and just remind yourself when you are offered tempting treats and festive nibbles, whether you want to look great, you want to feel great, you want to wear your favourite little black dress this season, you want to make some decent gains through the winter, or otherwise!

~~Elle Mac~~

Christmas Fun without fat

Christmas Fun doesn’t mean you have to add weight.

My six week cutting diet plus quest for fun cardio!

    Six Week Cutting Diet plus quest for fun cardio.

My quest for an entertaining and fun cardio session began last week with cardio in the great outdoors. I was in Southern Ireland for a week, visiting friends and family and watching one of my best friends compete in the RIBBF show in Limerick (big congratulations to Matthew Kelly!).

I have always loved walking outside, however I fear I don’t return as sweaty and feeling like I have worked as hard as when I do other forms of cardio, hence my quest for fun cardio continues. I really enjoy the great outdoors, but perhaps too much. I love taking photographs, taking the time to spend time with nature and dawdling along, waving at the neighbours, more for leisure than beneficial cardiovascular exercise, I think!

The main topic of my blog this week is to talk about the 6 week cutting diet which I start tomorrow. I really haven’t been myself lately and couldn’t train my legs for 9 weeks due to myositis which is caused by my medication.

My eating patterns were erratic and sporadic, sometimes I could only physically manage to eat once or twice a day, and I battled with a flare up of my Crohns disease, leading to vomiting, painful joints and a badly stomach upset.

I feel I have my health under control now, and after my break I feel refreshed and ready to take on the world… In terms of bodybuilding, and also my personal life and my career!

A combination of being more sedentary, poor eating habits, being erratic with taking my nutritional supplements and medication means my off season shape is less “off season” and more relatively toned marshmallow, the cellulite is peeping at me! My clothes are a little too tight and I feel sluggish, heavy and my self esteem is lower than usual.

I had planned a six week cutting diet leading up to the Sportex festival, which saw UKBFF and IFBB athletes compete in Manchester, however it would have been more a hindrance than a help and I just was not physically ready to diet due to my health problems.

However, things are looking up for me, I feel mentally well, physically I’m almost 100% and I’m ready to get back to a lean off season shape.

I’m following my pre contest six week cutting diet, with a couple of minor changes and less cardio. I’m not dieting too “hard” so to speak, as I don’t want to do anything else that could slow down my progress. My cardio regime will begin with 40 minutes 5 days a week, and if I feel I want or need to add a little more then I will.

I also have a long standing fluid retention problem, which I am (finally) going to sort out tomorrow with a trip to the doctor. I am also going to take note of my energy levels and Crohns symptoms to see if they improve.

On that note, I hope to bring you tips for diet, training and in particular the mentality behind weight management. That is what I do as a qualified weight management coach and trainee NLP practitioner, if anyone has any questions through my six week cutting diet, feel free to contact me via www.facebook.com/ElleMacFigureCompetitor.

Elle Mac

What can be done on a 6 week cutting diet.

What can be done on a 6 week cutting diet.

Cardio Training: Choosing Your Path

Cardio training

Girls performing cardio training at a spin class

Cardio training, love it or hate it, for any competing bodybuilder it’s a necessity to improve condition, burn fat and come in looking sharper and harder on competition day.

Not only that but cardio training helps speed recover, keep your heart healthy, lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and helps make up for the perils of modern life like fast food, booze, cigarettes and laziness!

My recent 26 mile trek with Miss BNBF Britain Jo Black was pure torture, I vowed to never complain about doing an hour or two of cardio ever again. But alas, here I am a few months on still on my ongoing quest to keep cardio interesting, fun and desirable.

I have an admission, I am not, by any means, fit. The stair master is my dreaded enemy, while this is one exercise I do quite enjoy (it’s all about knowing that I am tensing my glutes regularly and thinking about my stage appearance next year). I have managed a grand total of 15 minutes to date; at which point the stair master is given cruel looks, and I sulk my way over to the treadmill to finish off my session.

So, my quest to find some different cardio training which I will enjoy. I am typing this having just completed an hour on our home exercise bike, which I can honestly say felt like the longest hour of my life. So, in coming weeks I am venturing to pastures new, that greet me with the sight of spinning bikes and cross fit training, and no doubt sweat, a red face and frizzy hair!

So what keeps me doing cardio training? I can answer this honestly, I genuinely manage to find something that I enjoy, and that I can do consistently. In my opinion, it is a common mistake to force yourself to slug it out doing an exercise that you despise. You become resentful, angry and end up never doing cardio when you are off season.

I always mix up my cardio training, between stair master (wince), treadmill, recumbent bike and cross training. After a little over a year of doing this, I’m looking at doing something new. Often, I will walk outside just to change my surroundings, get a breath of fresh air, and post some letters when I’m out there.

I think the most important thing anyone can do is research. Look things up on the internet, try new things and experiment! Don’t be afraid to do something different, don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else does. There’s a cardiovascular exercise for everyone!

For now, I will sign off but will keep you posted as I find cardio work which keeps me entertained,

Elle Mac

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.

    FOODS THAT CAUSE 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.

5. COFFEE

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~~

Overcoming Adversity, Battling Illness and Keeping Going

Overcoming adversity is something we will all need to do at times, whether it’s in the form of an injury, illness, financial problems or anything else that gets in your way.

When I first started training, I trained on a three day split, breaking down my workouts between;
Day 1: Back and Biceps,
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Shoulders, Chest and Triceps.

I found competition preparation surprisingly refreshing, my body felt “clean” and healthy, I had less energy some days but nothing I wasn’t previously used to and I could eat simple food based around a structure.

In my off season, I have aimed to remain about a stone above my stage weight. I stick with my contest diet during the week and I am a little more relaxed on weekends, basing my diet around getting higher protein as this is what works for me and my illness. Around 4 weeks ago, I started to suffer the symptoms of a flare up, and I knew that this would be a little more challenging than I had previously anticipated.

I spent a day in hospital, and the decision was to put me onto a reducing dose of prednisone, commonly known as a medicinal steroid, along with mesalazine to keep my Crohns condition in remission (once we get it there). The side effects have been challenging and I have really struggled emotionally.

I have been to see my doctor today and I need to go back to the hospital. I am suffering with mild psychosis, causing depression, paranoia and anger, and severe muscular weakness and fluid retention. This is causing me to suffer excruciating joint pain, particularly in my legs, and my calf muscles ache doing the most basic of things. It’s like doing a particularly hard calf workout every single day. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do medicinally other than take anti depressants which I am not willing to do.

As life takes over at times, I think that it is important to adapt your training and eating plan to suit you PERSONALLY. We are all individual, and I do not agree with the “one size fits all” approach.

After the show, I changed to a 4 day split,
Day 1: Back/Hams/Glutes,
Day 2: Shoulders/Triceps,
Day 3: Chest/Biceps and
Day 4: Quads/Calves.

As my glutes and legs hold most of my fat and need the most work, I also add in extra sets of walking lunges and train abs. I found that my recovery time was much slower, especially after training quads on their own (I tend to train them very very hard!) I was finding that my energy was lapsing to do my planned off season cardio.

However, the benefits of splitting my biceps and back training was prevalent quite quickly and I definitely saw gains in my biceps. My shoulders also pop through despite carrying extra weight which is always a confidence booster.

I have reconsidered my training split in light of needing extra recovery time, and also my current difficulties. I have decided to continue to work from a 4 day split, just because I enjoy spending so much time in the gym.

As I always say, some people like motorbikes, some people like make up, I like the gym, so why not spend more time there? I’ve decided to continue to keep my back and biceps separate as I hit my biceps training my back as well, so my new split looks like this:

Day 1: Back and Abs
Day 2: Chest and Biceps
Day 3: Legs
Day 4: Shoulders and Triceps

I am adding in 2-3 morning cardio sessions of between 45 minutes and 1 hour to keep lean and conditioned, and on “Day 5” I am adding in 1 hour of steady rate cardio, with 4-5 sets of squats so that I hit my glutes and quads again. I will also continue to do extra walking lunges.

In terms of dietary changes, I am retaining a lot of fluid with my medication which is causing me a serious amount of discomfort. Last week, I spent a couple of days playing around with my diet, I found that when I replaced more direct sources of carbohydrates such as rice and oats with bananas and fruit, I dropped a lot of fluid weight and my legs in particular looked totally different. Not many people realise overcoming adversity can be as simple as eating for some of us.

I kept my macros the same, and originally tried having bananas due to their potassium rich properties. This week, my diet changes will reflect my competition preparation but also my illness and water retention problems. I find that I feel much better when I do not have dairy (but if you cut dairy, it is VERY important to have calcium and vitamin D to assist with absorption). Again, my diet changes are personal to me and my current situation. I am also adding in extra Vitamin C to help with my fluid retention and cortisol levels along with dandelion root extract too.

The most important thing that I can stress from making changes to any diet and/or routine, is that you need to assess what works for your body as we are all wonderfully unique. What works for one person may not work for the next. Your macro breakdown might seem obscure to someone else, but if it works for you, then persist with it. It took me months to work out the correct calorie and macro levels, but once they fit me comfortably, I can easily adjust them and monitor the changes going on in my body.

If you ever have to overcome adversity, your personal goals are so important. My goal when I was very unwell in 2010 was to walk about 200 yards a day, to the shop and back. Now, that seems like an eternity ago… but it worked for me. So whatever your goals are, break them down into manageable steps. A year ago, I would never have dreamed of working 4-5 times a week, and now that’s me relaxing a little!

Determination, persistence and hard work always pay off – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. Overcoming adversity is a challenge in its own right, but doing so feels as good as a personal best in the dead lift!

Have a great week!

~~Elle Mac~~

How do you overcome adversity and keep going?

Overcoming adversity, how do you do it?

From Fat to Fit in Six Months

    Fat – Fit in Six Months

For my first blog, I wanted to tell you a little more about the young lady behind the picture, and how I came about to be involved in bodybuilding and how it has changed my life and I went from fat – fit in six months.

I was 25 years old when I started my journey towards stepping on stage as a competitive bodybuilder. I was always relatively inactive as a teenager, I wasn’t involved in any sports at school or outside of it, as I was always suffering with fatigue and I didn’t have the inclination to think that I might be suffering from an illness.

I spent my teens as most “average” teenagers do, drinking, smoking and eating unhealthy food. I was never particularly overweight, and I really didn’t put too much value on my health at that point in time.

In 2005, after spending several months suffering from stomach and joint pains, I was diagnosed after a colonoscopy examination with Crohns Disease. Crohns Disease is an Irritable Bowel Disease, which can affect any part of your bowel from your mouth to your anus. The symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss (and gain), skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eyes, erythema nodosum (swelling of the fat tissue under the skin), tiredness, depression and lack of concentration. I spent the next 3 years in and out of hospital, still not really fully understanding what was happening to my body.

In 2008, I was struck down with a serious relapse. I lost 2 and a half stone of weight in the first 6 weeks and I was left in agony, sleeping for days on end and barely able to walk, becoming a recluse and suffering from depression. The disease ravaged my body for 10 long months, until finally, in April 2009, doctors agreed that they would need to operate to see what was going on inside my bowel.

I had 4 feet of my bowel removed including my ileum, which was to be expected as I had deep ulcerations and bleeding inside my bowel. The most shocking part was that I had a fistula track, which basically means that my bowel made its own pathway from my small bowel to my colon, which I had removed. I also had a hole in my colon and food outside of my bowel.

After a 5 and a half hour operation, doctors told me that most people are dead within 3 days of having such severe problems, so as you can imagine, going from fat to fit in six months feels like quite an achievement for me.

After 6 weeks in hospital and extensive physio to learn to walk upright again, I was allowed to go home. Lying in bed for weeks had left me weak and incapacitated, part of my physio was simply to lift the weight of my own leg from a bent to straight position whilst sitting in a chair.

I left the hospital at a weak 119 pounds (standing at 5’9”). I wasn’t allowed to eat any fibre for a minimum of three months and I was told to gain weight and gain weight I most certainly did!

I spent the next 4-5 months taking prednisolone (a commonly known a medicinal steroid), eating chocolate, cheese, pasta and ice cream. As my weight climbed, my confidence was battered by an unhealthy relationship and I became shy, self conscious and my self esteem was on the floor.

I developed an extremely unhealthy attitude towards food, rewarding myself with food whenever the opportunity arose, binge eating in secret, sabotaging my efforts all the time and feeling trapped in my own body. I would not eat in front of anyone else in case they thought I was gorging myself, and shrunk into a shroud of denial and desperation.

I also developed an unhealthy obsession with the way I looked and joined (and failed) at different slimming clubs, gyms, and fad diets on several occasions. If anyone wants to go from fat to fit, don’t try it with slimming clubs.

The breaking point came for me in August 2011. After living in Ireland for 8 years, I had moved back to England to start a new career opportunity, and one morning while getting dressed, I just saw an empty shell of the bubbly, confident and sexy young woman I used to be staring back at me. I was overweight at 193lbs, spotty and miserable. I had over 18 months experience working as a weight management coach and consultant, but I had never spent any time or energy working on myself. I knew from that point, that something had to change.

Whilst being sick, I had promised myself that I would achieve something that I would have always told myself would be physically impossible. My first idea was a marathon, but that really didn’t interest me. I had always had a fascination with the human body and watching bodybuilders sculpt and shape their bodies into something beautiful. What they do is almost like art, I made a decision that I would finally fullfil

    that

goal and make the dream reality.

I started with small changes, which I will discuss in my next blog. The biggest support I had was in the form of Dougie and Jo Black Extreme Nutrition – I met Dougie a few weeks later at a social event, and he very kindly offered to assist me in pursuing my dream. I couldn’t have gone from fat – fit without them – but again, I shall tell you more about what happened next later on!

One year on, and while I am battling a small relapse. I am a healthy weight, I am strong, confident, and I have a new found passion for life. I am in a happy relationship with an incredible partner who has taught me to eat in front of people and that I am beautiful no matter what happens with my health or my body.

Having my fitness and bodybuilding goals gets me through the bad days. I competed in April 2012 in the NABBA West Britain Toned Figure category. I can honestly say that my health, my appearance and my whole outlook on life and relationship with food and my body has changed. I truly believe that anyone can do it- the ability to change is inside all of us.

For me, it was bodybuilding that saved me from myself and I have also completed a 26 mile trek- there was my marathon!

I hope that I can bring you information to support your current lifestyle, or inspire you into changing if that is what you wish to do. Enjoy reading!

~Elle Mac~ xx

Gym Ettiquette - article author

Author of “Gym Ettiquette – don’t be “that” person”

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