Finding Fitness: Jo at Fallen Angel Fitness

Hey everyone! I am so excited to bring you this month’s edition of “Finding Fitness”! Today I’m introducing you to Jo from Fallen Angel Fitness. If you follow me over on Instagram, you know that I’ve been getting pretty into weightlifting the past few months. So my interview with Jo was even more exciting for me with her passion for lifting!

Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey or have been at it for years, I think she has a lot of insight to share, so I will let her get to it. Enjoy!

Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey or have been at it for years, my interview with Jo is sure to have some insights for you!

Background: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Jo, I’m 37 years old, from England, and I live with my husband Alan, my cat Charlie and my terrier-cross Cookie.
I’m really new to the world of blogging. I have a few social media pages and also upload videos to a Youtube channel each week, but decided to start my blog in December 2016 because I wanted a place where I could merge my love of fitness with my passion for writing.
Aside from my interests in fitness, I’m a trainee psychologist in my final two years of training. I believe that psychology has a huge role to play in fitness and I try and bring aspects of this into my blog posts where possible. I’m also a qualified counsellor and I enjoy being able to make connections with people and help them explore their stories at a deeper level.

How did your fitness journey start? What motivated the change? Along with that, what has kept you interested?

 
I haven’t always been interested in fitness. Far from it! In my mid-20s I didn’t take great care of my body at all. I smoked, drank a lot of alcohol and didn’t eat particularly well. In around 2005, me and a few friends decided to start training for a 5k to raise money for a breast cancer charity as we all felt we could do with getting fitter. I’d never done any running before and started off with only being able to run 30 seconds at a time. A few months later I was able to run 5k non-stop. It was a huge achievement and I felt such freedom from being able to just put on some running shoes and get out there.
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What has been your biggest challenge in your fitness journey and how have you dealt with it?

Body image has been an issue for me since my 20s, and although it’s not so much of a problem nowadays it can still play on my mind from time to time. As part of my powerlifting training I am currently ‘bulking’, or eating in a calorie surplus, in order to help build strength. This means that I am not as lean as I would perhaps like. There are some days where I can feel a bit self-conscious about it, and I think that’s mainly because we’re surrounded by so many messages about how we ‘should’ look. But, when I see how much stronger I’m getting in each training session and I keep hitting PRs (personal records) in my lifts this helps to reinforce that bulking is helping me right now, and that it won’t be forever.

Have you had any setbacks since starting your fitness journey? If so, how did you deal with them?

A few years ago I strained my IT Band whilst training for a marathon. Despite taking a few months off to allow it to heal, it was never really the same and so I had to find other ways to keep fit. I got into doing fitness DVDs and in mid-2015 I came across a DVD which focused on weight training. I loved the feeling of getting stronger and that’s what spurred me onto continuing with lifting weights.
 

What achievement are you the most proud of?

I am a much different person to who I was about 10 years ago. I’ve been through personal difficulties and done a lot of work on myself to be where I am today. I have a lot more faith in myself and my abilities, and I actually like myself now! It’s been hard work but it has been worth it to come through the other side and start enjoying life and doing the things I love. I should say, that despite the difficult experiences I’ve had I wouldn’t be where I am without them and so I am grateful for having been through them.
 
 

Outside of the physical, what have been some significant changes brought on by your fitness journey?

The biggest change outside of the physical has been my increase in confidence. Getting physically stronger has been a huge boost to the way I feel about myself and how I look. Weight training has helped me to become more disciplined in other areas of my life. I used to put off doing things I was worried about, but now I am more likely to tackle them head-on rather than avoiding them. I’m not the most patient person in the world and lifting weights has also helped me to become much more patient because my strength is going to take time to build and so the work that I put in now is going to pay dividends when it comes to me competing.
 
 

What are you working towards now? What are your goals and dreams, fitness-wise?

I’m currently training for my first powerlifting meet in May 2017. I’m loathe to call myself a powerlifter until I have done my first meet! I have no doubt that I will enjoy the experience so I’d like to compete in further meets afterwards. Perhaps I’m dreaming too big at this stage (is there such a thing?!) but I would eventually like to move from a novice category of lifting to a more ‘professional’ category. Of course that means getting stronger, which I fully intend on becoming!
 
 

What does a typical training week look like?

I train five days a week and have the weekends as my rest days. On Mondays I do front squats and deadlifts, Tuesdays is decline bench press, Wednesdays is an active recovery day which consists of light weights to keep working the muscles but not fatigue them. Thursdays are back squats and Fridays is flat bench press. I have an online coach and he sends me the weights and reps that he wants me to do for each exercise. The weights and reps vary each week as sometimes he’ll want me to do heavier weights and lower reps, and other days I’ll lift lighter weights with higher reps. He will adjust as we go along, depending on how I get on with the different weights. It certainly seems to be working as I’m gradually increasing what I can lift!
I also try to do one 15-20 minute HIIT session each week for heart health. Because I’m training for strength my coach wants me to keep cardio to a minimum, which is fine, but I do like the feeling I get from doing HIIT and feel my heart racing!
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What does an average day of eating look like for you? 

In each of my meals I try to get a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. I tend to eat the same things for breakfast and lunch but vary things for dinner. I’m a creature of habit and routine just feels easier for me! I rarely get bored with the same foods.
For breakfast I have oats which are cooked in water with egg whites. I then mix in chocolate protein powder and peanut butter. It probably sounds horrible but it’s actually very nice, honest!
Lunch doesn’t tend to be a big meal as I save most of my calories for later in the day. I normally have some rice cakes with tuna or chicken and also some boiled eggs as protein helps me to feel fuller for longer.
For dinner it’s usually chicken or fish with mixed vegetables and rice, but I vary the sauces so that it doesn’t get boring. I also have a meal a few hours before going to bed which is usually another (smaller) portion of oats with protein powder and peanut butter.
I do have a few squares of dark chocolates most days, and whilst it’s nice to be able to do that I try to stick to nutrient-dense foods as much as possible.
 
 

Do you take any supplements? If so, could you tell us a little about what ones and why? If not, why not?

I use protein powder with my oats at breakfast time, just because there are only so many egg whites and chicken breast I can eat in a day! The protein powder makes it easier for me to hit my protein requirements, but I aim to get the majority of my protein from whole foods.
I also take Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine is a natural substance found in our own bodies, mostly in the muscles, and is said to be one of the best supplements when it comes to building strength and/or muscle. Creatine helps me get a better ‘pump’ when lifting weights and also enables me to push that bit harder when the weights get tough.
I also take an Omega 3 capsule each day for heart and joint health. I do try and get a decent amount of oliy fish but it can be expensive so the capsules help with that. Also, I take a multivitamin in case I’m not getting all the micronutrients I need from my food, and a specific joint health supplement as I want to help preserve my joints and be able to lift for as long as possible.
 
 

What is your favorite exercise? Your least favorite?

My favorite lift is the deadlift. There is something very empowering about being able to lift a dead weight off of the floor! My least favorite is wide-stance squats. They help to build the hips, but they are just so awkward and I’m glad to get them done!
 
 

What do you do if you find your motivation lacking?

I’ve so far not found my motivation to lift to be a problem. However, there are often times when my motivation to get out of bed (in order to lift) can be low! I don’t have a magic formula in these instances, I just tell myself to get out of bed and get ready. To be honest, once I am out of bed and changed then I am ready to go, but leaving a cosy bed can sometimes be hard especially in the cold dark winter months!
 
 

How do you balance fitness with work/life/social/etc? How do you “find the time” to workout? 

I get up at 5am on my training days. I have to train in the morning because I know that when I get home from work all I want to do is sit on the sofa and relax! Finding the time for fitness isn’t so much an issue, but there can be times where blogging and updating my social media can take a lot of time. Whilst I enjoy it, I want to make sure I have a balance between that and spending time with my family. On Sundays my husband and I tend to go on a long walk with Cookie, out in the countryside. This gives us some down-time from everything and the space to just be out in nature and enjoy what’s around us.
 

What are your top 3 tips for someone just starting their fitness journey?

1. Do your research – Whatever area of fitness you want to get into, look on Google for websites which may prove useful. I did this and found lots of great information about things such as the equipment I needed to buy and the sort of lifting programs which would be best suited to me.
2. Find other people who are interested in the same thing – I joined some forums and got chatting to other people. This really helped to motivate me to pursue what I wanted to do, and the other forum members were also able to give me great advice based on their experiences.
3. Don’t worry about what other people may think – I’ve had some unkind comments from so-called friends about me choosing to lift weights and it’s sad when people don’t appear to support your efforts to do something positive. There will always be people who don’t necessarily agree with, or support, your fitness journey. Don’t let those people deter you from what you are passionate about – surround yourself with like-minded people and go for it!
 

Anything else you want to share?

I’m a huge believer that women shouldn’t be afraid to lift heavy weights. There are so many myths out there, for example, that women will get bulky if they lift heavy. That’s just not true as we’re not physiologically able to get bulky due to our low levels of testosterone. Lifting weights can have many physical benefits, such as increasing bone density and minimizing the risks of osteoporosis later in life, and it’s certainly increased my self-confidence. Even if women don’t want to lift as their main source of fitness, I believe that incorporating some lifting into their fitness routine will bring them huge benefits.

 

Sara here again: Jo, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your insights!
Guys, you should definitely go check out Jo and all that she does. She inspires me all the time and I’m sure she will do the same for you!

 

finding-fitness-jo-fallen-angel-fitnessJo is a trainee psychologist from the UK who likes to lift heavy weights and is training for her first powerlifting meet. Her blog merges her love of iron and her interest in the human mind by relating elements of psychology to different areas of fitness in order to help readers get the most out of their fitness journeys.
You can find more from Jo on her blog, InstagramFacebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
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5 Simple Health Tips For All Of Us

Hey everyone! I am so happy to be welcoming back Allison from Waking Up Thirty! In case you missed it, you should definitely go read my interview with her from a couple weeks ago!

Today, she is sharing with us her 5 simple health tips. Enjoy!

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Over the past few years I have been on a roundabout health journey. I went from being the healthiest in my life to probably being the sickest I have ever been.

During my last pregnancy I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I had to reevaluate myself and look at my fitness in a whole new light. I had to start from the inside out and make myself strong again mentally as well as physically. Even though there were many things I had to change, I want to share a few things that any of us can do to better our health no matter the obstacles we are facing. These are five core concepts I try to put in place and evaluate any time I think I need a little boost in my routine or if I am feeling a little “off.” Most of the time I just need to readjust one of these things and I immediately start feeling better. Best of all – none of these things are going to cost you any money or require you to have any crazy equipment or knowledge beyond what we probably already know as adult humans.

Here are Five Simple Health Tips

1.) Sleep.

I am sorry to all you new parents out there that aren’t getting your regular sleep – I feel you. Someday you will have the chance to catch up on your sleep, but for now just power through it. For everyone else – go to bed. Go to bed at a reasonable hour each night for one week and see what happens. Try getting in bed by 930pm and seeing if you can fall asleep by 10pm. Even if you have to read a dictionary, if they still exist, try to get the shuteye you need. If you can get a solid amount of rest in before midnight, you are benefitting your body by hitting REM (Rapid Eye Movement sleep – Google it) earlier than usual, you will wake up more refreshed. If you have to wake up super early, go to bed even earlier than 9:30pm. The important thing is to get a solid sleep. Some of us only need seven hours, some of us need up to  nine. You have to do what works the best for your body and two weeks of concentrating on your sleep pattern is going to give you a general idea of how much sleep your body truly needs.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep can improve so many different parts of your body and mind including your cognitive function, your mood, the strain on your adrenal gland and thyroid gland, it also may even improve inflammation and aid in weight-loss. Wowza.

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2.) Drink water.

Duh. I know, if you hear one more person tell you that you need more water. you might flip your lid, but there are a multitude of reasons why we need to get our water intake up. Our bodies are roughly 55% water… or they should be. All of our internal organs need water in order to operate properly. Our biggest outer organ, or skin, also needs water so it can regenerate and “glow.” When we optimize our water levels we allow our bodies to run smoothly and not overwork themselves. What are some of the immediate benefits of drinking water? Well, aside from not being thirsty, you can notice increased energy levels, less head and body aches and your muscles can even operate more efficiently! Yes! Your muscles can work better and this can prevent injury and muscle spasms or tightness. If your current health goals are to lost a few pounds, drinking more water should be at the top of your priority list. The average adult male needs about 3 litres (12 cups) of water per day and the average adult female needs 2 litres (9.3 cups) of water per day in order to optimize their bodily fluid levels. This amount can change slightly based on several variables such as individual activity level or even the climate, but starting with a solid 2 to 3 litres of water per day is a great base point.

3.) Go outside.

I worked at a desk job in a dark little office for almost a decade. There were weeks that I didn’t leave my building and I worked well into the evenings. The only time I saw the light of day was to run and grab my coffee or lunch, or to and from my car. It wasn’t until I started an outdoor running/jogging/hiking program that I noticed my general mood improved drastically. I slept so much better on the nights that I had spent time outside that day. I had actual colour in my cheeks (even with using sunscreen) and I had a bigger sense of wholeness in my health routine. The impact of spending time outdoors was so much more a mental benefit than a physical benefit. I truly believe mental health and physical health go hand in hand together.

Spending time outdoors seems like such a no brainer, but it is something we overlook doing. This is an age where we spend hours and hours being lost in the interwebs, but we can’t seem to get 15 minutes outside of our four walls. Making it a daily habit to get outside can be immensely beneficial for yourself. Vitamin D is also amazing… just sayin’.
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4.) Write in a journal or make a daily gratitude list.

“Ahhh, here it is,” you say. “Here comes the work.”

Whenever someone hears the word JOURNAL, they automatically have flashbacks to grade four when their teachers made them do a daily log and they had to rack their brains for something interesting to say. Or they imagine a soft, leather bound book with empty pages that sits in box or drawer somewhere in their own homes – probably given to them by a caring family member, but never used.

A journal does not have to be anything more than a couple of written lines of how you felt at the end of that day. Alternatively, you could wake up each morning and write out three to five things that you are grateful for in your life and set your day off right.

Why would this type of thing be included in a health and wellness tip post? Here is your answer: When we focus on the positive aspects of our lives, we tend to radiate more positivity in other areas. We start focusing on the good. When we write down our feelings or what has transpired throughout the day, we are able to go back later and see how or why we may have been feeling the way we were in that moment. Personal reflection is a stepping point for anyone who wants to better themselves in any aspect of their life.

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5.) Meditate.

Annnd here is where I go off the deep end, right? Wrong. So wrong. A meditation practice is not some sort of new age, funky, hipster-trend. There are ancient Indian records of meditation practices as far back as 1500 BCE and also records of other types of meditation from Taoist China that date in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. The idea that total relaxation of the mind and spirit (whether you are religious or not) can be beneficial is nothing new – yet so many of us think it is hog wash and unfounded. Here’s the thing, there is actual scientific evidence that  there are benefits to practicing meditation: such as the increase of immune function, reduction of inflammation, decrease in anxiety & stress, and so on and so on. But, why the need to read medical journals or textbooks when you could do a little science experiment of your own and just try meditating for 10 minutes per day for a week. There are so many apps and resources on the web where you can find guided meditations to get you through your first sessions. You may be surprised at the results it gives you.

Whatever health and wellness journey you are on, I hope you are able to find a path for yourself. Even if you have to trudge through it on your own there are so many ways we can lift ourselves up during the process. Be smart. Love yourself throughout the trek and you will see the benefit a little self love and tenderness can give you.

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Allison, thank you so much for joining us today on the blog! I love these tips so much and am personally planning on adding in more meditation to my routine!

Which one of these 5 tips are you going to work on improving? Do you have another simple health tip you would like to share? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Finding-FitnessAllison lives on the East Coast of Canada and brings Bootcamp style classes to rural areas in her community.
She used to work a sedentary job in television production, but has found her passion in helping others achieve their physical fitness goals and is also hoping to offer mindfulness classes in the future.
Her blog titled “Waking up Thirty” is a look into the mind of a 30-some-year-old who is trying to figure out her purpose after having some major life changes. Her posts are relatable to anyone who is finding themselves wondering why their life doesn’t quite look the way they expected it would.

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sunday meal prep 7/24/16

Hey everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend! We have had a wonderful weekend, including a family dinner at my parents, where Draz got to meet some of my extended family and I got to see a few people I hadn’t seen in many years 🙂 It was a lot of fun, full of laughter and tasty food! That was the highlight of our weekend, though I did get some photography work done as well. That’s pretty much the highlights from our weekend, so now on to our meal prep for the week!

Enjoy!

Yes, it's possible to eat healthy all week and not spend time every day in the kitchen! Meal prep once a week cuts down on the amount of time you spend cooking, freeing up more time for the more important things in your life! Click through to see how!Read More

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Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone and welcome back for this week’s meal prep! This week was pretty quick with a lot of really tasty dishes, so let’s get to it!

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As always, our salads are pretty much a requirement. I’m still in love with the Buffalo Shredded Chicken, so I don’t think our salads will be changing up anytime soon, though if you have any other great protein sources for Jar Salads I would love to give them a try!

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I made enough breakfast burritos to last us a little over two weeks! We have just recently changed up the ingredients a little and I love the difference of adding in sautéed onion and bell peppers.

As always, the Sweet Potato Banana Bites are a favorite snack. I would love to hear your ideas for some new snacks to add in to the rotation!

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Root Veggie Bake with Andouille Sausage and Italian Sausage Kale Ziti are my two repeat dishes this week. As for the new dish of the week, this Jalapeno Popper Chicken came together great and smelled delicious!

That’s it for this week! What are you cooking this week? I would love some new ideas as I’ve been in a little bit of a rut and would love to add some new food to our regular rotation of dishes.

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Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

 

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Fitness Update

As I stated in my July Review, I kinda fell off track with my workouts for a couple of weeks. So I didn’t make much progress last month 🙁 But I didn’t really lose any progress either. Over my fitness journey, I have learned to accept that some weeks don’t go as planned.

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June Progress Pics
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BBG Starting Day Pics

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Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to another installment of my weekly meal prep. I am very excited to say that unlike last week, this week was much better and more fun for me! I don’t know what was going on with me last week, but I’m glad it’s over!

This week was pretty fun for me, including one of my favorite stews 🙂 I know that it’s a bit warm out for a heavier stew, but I saw it when I was deciding on the menu for this week and it just sounded too tasty to pass up. Check out the recipe at the bottom of the post!Read More

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Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s meal prep! This week was a bit weird for me. While normally I enjoy meal prep and cooking in general, there are some days where it is just a chore. This Sunday was one of those days. Not only did it feel like a chore, but it felt like it took much longer than it actually did. I’m just thankful that it was a relatively small amount of cooking to be done, instead of one of my marathon days. I pushed my way through to the end and was very glad to be done.

At least the food was tasty, including a new recipe! Read More

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Sunday Meal Prep

Do you remember the first dish you cooked? I do. Up until I was around 20 yrs old, I couldn’t cook. I could make pasta, but that was pretty much it. Then one day, kinda homesick and missing my mom’s wonderful cooking, I decided to make her jambalaya. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, but I went out, got all the ingredients, and got to cooking. It took forever! I was so slow at everything! Read More

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Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to another edition of Sunday Meal Prep! Relatively small prep this week, which was a nice break from the norm. A bit more pasta-intensive that you usually see from me, but that seemed to really fit the mood this week. What can I say, we love pasta!

So without further ado, here is this week’s meal prep!Read More

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My Fitness Journey – the Backstory and Where I’m at Now

This post is really hard for me….I’ve actually been planning on writing this for over a month but kept putting it off.

I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life. While I was pretty skinny as a kid, by the time I was in high school that had started to change. By the time I was 16 I was starting to really put on weight, enough so that it was asked more than once if I was pregnant.

However, it was really when I went to college that not only gained most of my weight, but kept it on for years. At my heaviest, I was around 250 lbs. I’m actually unsure if that is my heaviest, since I avoided scales as much as possible.Read More

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