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Monday, 30 September 2013

Exercise: Going Through The Motions

Today i woke up and reflected on the past few weeks of my fitness journey. Ever since stepping into the gym and deciding No More "i wish i could look like this... i wish i didn't have this... i wish i could do this.." i have learnt so many things about my body and mind. It really is a journey. For the past few days i have been daydreaming about the day i have firm glutes. It is my weak spot, so i am going to turn it into my STRONG spot. I started to think "WHY didn't i start doing squats the moment i learnt how to walk as a baby", but in actual fact i HAVE tried to work on my bum in the past. I mean, okay maybe not as hard/many times as i should have but it's not like i NEGLECTED it. Now with my perspective in the incredible benefits of lifting weights i realise my approach to how to use exercise FOR my body was a bit off the mark. Let me explain.
NB: I am going to group Leg/Glute exercises as just 'Legs'
-I was very hesitant about working out my legs because all my life i've had muscular legs. I used to walk for 8 mins up a hill from the bus stop after school to my house, and within 5seconds of this routine my calves were so muscular. My friends all had skinny legs. I used to be so envious, so i used to WANT the muscle to waste in my legs. I avoided going too heavy with weights and using a very challenging gradient/resistance on machines for this reason.
-In August i started to not give a * about other peoples legs, and just focus on mine. Once a week i started incorporating exercises that weren't going to really bulk up my legs, but would work my glutes. I started doing squats and lunges on a bosu ball without heavy weights (8kg if anything), glute bridges, leg bands, squats without heavy weights. And started incorporating the stair/stepper into my workout.
-Overtime, i started to want to use heavier weights, and so began using the Leg Press, Lunges with a 10kg --> 15kg bar, [deadlifts- back and hamstrings but also glutes], Split leg squat. etc. My gym at the time didn't have a squat rack so i couldn't really squat heavy.
- Truth is, i never TRULY felt my glutes working. I did these exercises with the mentality of just going through the motion. Now i did sweat, i did find certain reps and certain sets challenging, and occasionally had DOMS the next day, but i just assumed that by doing these exercises, i was inevitably working out my glutes. 
-This isn't the case. Anyone can pick a weight that's really heavy. Anyone can walk up high gradients on the treadmill, use the stair machine.
I realised that i used to get the ache in my Quads. My Quads had built up over time because even when i was doing exercises to target my glutes, my quads fully took over. Now even now when i work with my trainer i feel it in my quads aswell, but i ALSO feel it in my glutes. I have never really felt it in my glutes before. My quads are strong, which means any stress on my legs, the quads are quick to take over. Even with squats and leg presses, my quads would take over.
Tips
-If you want to work a muscle, you need to FEEL the muscle working. You have to put it under stress. This means using the correct form and using a weight that feels challenging. I think when people say "lift heavy" it actually is confusing. Like people used to say this to me, and i used to think WHAT IS HEAVY. what do they MEAN. To make it simple, just lift a weight that feels like its a challenge. That makes you breath out and sigh and even make funny faces after a few reps.
-If you want to grow that muscle, you need to repair the damage you've done to it by putting it under the stress of the exercise. This means eating enough protein. The recommendation to build muscle is 1.5g protein per kg of body weight per day. You are NOT going to get big and bulky. TRUST ME. Muscle takes TIME to grow. And if you are getting bigger, then it's most likely fat gain, so reassess your net calorie input (i.e. are you eating more than you are burning off).
-I almost... ALMOST.. put the blame on genetics. i thought WHY WHY can some people work out less hard than me, or even actually have the same approach and just go through the motions, yet still reap the benefits. But genetics or NOT, it's not an excuse. Your attitude and consistency will ALWAYS triumph genetics. 
-If you are like me and your quads take over your glutes, 'Pre-fatiguing- the quads before you start your glutes-focused exercise help. This means doing heavy and high rep training of an exercise that will just work the quads, till the point where they feel weak. This will help prevent them from 'taking over' when you move onto exercises for your glutes.
-FEEL THE MUSCLE. This may mean doing a more focused exercise routing with fewer exercises. This may even mean dropping the weight to a lighter one so your form is perfect. This may mean squeezing at the top of an exercise, or keeping the muscle contracted by doing pulses/half reps. This may mean using a machine and instead of strictly obeying the picture drawing/instructions it has on how to use it, and tailoring it to how it works for YOU.
I hope this helps, because i really wish someone told me this sooner. Just saying "lift heavy" means nothing. Stay focused, and keep your eyes on your goal. Don't give up, you've got this 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Olympia 2013: Bikini

Olympia 2013: Bikini: My Favs
Ok. Let me first start by saying: Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow. INSPIRATION AT ITS FINEST. If you are considering/currently training/are a bikini competitor- or for any other category of bodybuilding- JUST WOW you need to look at the pictures! Or help me build a time machine so that we can go back in time and make sure we're in Las Vegas and have tickets for it. I now can't wait for the Arnold competition! Okay, focus.
Now i am truly obsessed with Amanda Latona. Ok the word obsessed makes me sound crazy, she is just so inspirational. From watching interviews and her exercise videos, her personality is amazing. But then her body is just phenomenal. And YOU KNOW it took a thousand buckets of sweat and tears to achieve that. She is my inspiration particularly for the Glutes area! This is how she looked for Olympia 2013, and she came 6th.

Nathalia Melo was Ms Olympia Bikini 2012. She is Beautiful, and her stage presence is phenomenal. I watched a youtube video of Olympia 2013 bikini, and your eyes are drawn to her. She came 4th in this years Olympia. Amazing body and Amazing face- she looks leaner than she did last year, but overall Nathalia does have a leaner look- particularly her mid section. Oh and her glutes are also inspiring!!!!

The winner of Ms Olympia Bikini 2013 was Ashley Kaltwasser. Having looked through the pictures of the Olympia Bikini, i have to say she definitely deserved it. I was SHOCKED Amanda Latona didn't win, but that's because in my eyes she's perfect and embodies "ms bikini". HOWEVER, i recall saying - OUT LOUD- "damn", when i saw Ashley's pictures. Her body is just perfect. I mean lean and muscular, but soft and feminine. Her boobs don't look disproportionate. Her skin and tan is perfect and even. Her makeup and hair is just right. I am not surprised she won. Her story is also motivating, because she placed 10th in Arnold Classic 2013 and then went on to win OLYMPIA. This shows the importance of not giving up.
The last girl i'll talk about is Michelle Brannan. Now I have been following her on Twitter and Instagram for some time. She looks like a porcelain barbie-doll (but the natural kind, not the fake looking), and her body is always tight. She seems incredibly focused and her determination lead her to be the first Olympia Bikini girl to represent UK. That is some achievement. 

Clean Bulk: Week 2

Clean Bulk
I met with my trainer on Wednesday 18th September, and since then have begun a clean bulk. Now the reason i use the word 'clean' in reference to my bulk is that it is not me eating all the food i desire all in the name of muscle. It is a controlled diet with the aim of being in a caloric-surplus, providing my body with optimum conditions to grow muscle. Particularly my glutes ;) . This means
-Having a diet plan and sticking to it every day
-Weighing my food.
-Sources of food: Carbs: Oatmeal, Brown Rice. Protein: Chicken breast, Tuna, Salmon, Egg. Fat: Avacado (Salmon included in the meal as it is a fatty fish).
-Week to week review so to STEADILY increase my calories in a CONTROLLED way.
The goal is to increase as much muscle as possible, and minimising the amount of fat gained. Now some fat gain is inevitable, which is why i am not lifting up my top frequently to check my abs. The muscle is there- I CAN FEEL IT- it is strong and tight, but the 'ripped abs look' wont be apparent until i start cutting/my body fat % is low. I weigh myself every week- today was my 'weigh day' with my brand new scales (Amazon UK) and i am 49.9kg. This is good, because the idea isn't to put on weight drastically over the next few weeks- that would just mean i was putting on mainly fat. Any weight gain above 2lbs is most likely due to fat NOT muscle. You will REALISTICALLY only put on about 1-2lbs dry muscle in a month.
After years of eating erratically, i am PRETTY SURE i have caused some issues with my metabolism. I mean, it isn't too bad because i haven't gone up to like 60kg in a day, but what i mean is that the concept of increasing things slowly is really important. Some days i wouldn't eat till 4pm, and then go through a binge-starve cycle, other days it was just binge, other days it wasn't. If some of you had gone through this, just rest assure that the damage isn't permanent- and if you're young your body will adapt more quickly- but it will take time to get your metabolism to its optimal fat-burning state. Now the idea behind using your metabolism to your advantage is to be able to eat as much as possible (particularly carbs) without gaining weight. As your body is adaptive, after a few weeks at a certain number of calories-per-day diet, your body will get used to it. This is why if trying to lose weight, you reach a plateau and have to drop a few more calories, and if you are trying to gain muscle you have to increase a bit more. Now if you can maintain your body on a 2000 kcal diet instead of a 1200kcal diet, you have more leverage to work with. This is the importance of not rushing a process- sometime you have to step back in order to leap forwards.
Photo from this morning:


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Protein Discount Card

Discount? I like the word Discount. It isn't too dissimilar to the word free AND WE ALL LOVE THE WORD FREE.
So £239423904832423 of my money these days seems to be spent on either Food, Supplements, Gym Clothes and.. nope just those 3. They're totally worth that investment, but sometimes a little help in the financial support of them is always appreciated ;). So i came across "Protein Discount Card" on Twitter, and at first i had my doubts because.. well.. WHO is that nice to offer a discount on protein!? But i went on their website and there really is NOTHING to lose. It is completely free to set up an account and completely free to get a discount card sent to your door- which arrived around 4 days after i applied for one. 
Me being skeptical I always try to look for a possible reason behind such nice-ness, and i suppose that when you get given a discount you're more likely to shop. January sales anybody? I mean, you don't even WANT or NEED that top, but £10 off? OKAY. So the same goes- you may not NEED to top up your supply of whey (who am i kidding.. you ALWAYS need to top up your supply of whey!).. but you get the jist. And in order to buy the products (only a select few have the discount, whereas if you pay for a VIP card then you get more for a discount)- good business minds ;). And thirdly, my other suspicion was that not only is it advertisement for the brands- you have to go onto the website of the brand and then checkout, but whilst on the website you may see another product you "NEED". OVERALL, if you have some self control and would like some assistance in saving money on your fitness journey, then definitely sign up to this!
Money needed to be saved after my shop in Nike Town yesterday XD

My card 

Brands Include: #ProteinWorks #MuscleFood #MyProtein #USN #MonsterSupplements #GoldStarSupplements #Pro10 #Kinetica #BikiniBody #UrbanCelebrityClothing #SmartShake #MensFitness


Monday, 23 September 2013

Promotion Work










On Sunday 22nd September I was lucky enough to meet and work with the brains behind Protein World and 3 really lovely girls, two of who were Miss Hertfordshire 2013, and a semi-finalist in So You Think You Can Dance. We helped the guys out at Protein World [Pure Performance]- a new supplement company, which launches on 24th September, at a Rugby tournament in Richmond. Everyone was really friendly- it was such a fun day and a great experience.
About Protein World:
The guys who tried the Whey and Recovery Whey- Chocolate and Vanilla flavour- seemed to really like the sweet taste, smoothness and consistency.
The packaging is really simple, which i really like.
No Genetically Modified Organism used in their products
No Aspartame
Focused on the enhancing your Strength and Power, without compromising on the Quality.
The prices are excellent and range around the £20 figure.
@Proteinworld on Instagram and Twitter
Over the past few months i have really been doing my research on supplements, and the importance of optimising your performance. On sunday, one of the main things that i really took home from the day was that a lot of people don't really know why they are taking a supplement, or even what it is. I also really enjoyed being outgoing, and confidently talking to the rugby players about the brand and just really try and represent the brand as much as possible.
After the day, it motivated me to go straight to the gym and LIFT LIFT LIFT- I loved being able to represent a brand, and i want to make sure that i am physically in the best shape possible to do so.







Saturday, 21 September 2013

A New Perspective

Saturday 21st September

Its breakfast time over here and I LOVE MY BREAKFAST. There was a time (around 2 years ago) when i never ate breakfast- i would try to fast until about 3 pm- and then BOY WAS I HUNGRY/ATE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IN MY SIGHT.

Breakfast is important because it is "breaking the fast". You haven't eaten since dinner, and for some people thats around 5-6pm. You have to not only fuel your body (think of it like a car), but you have to give those poor muscles that take a good pounding at the gym some lovin'. And just like food is the way to a man's heart (stereotyped but true XD), but as is your muscles'.

For me breakfast is simple and quick (it has to be or i'd start eating the kitchen appliances), and its 40g of Rolled Oats (that bag full of oats in the supermarket that you usually walk past to pick up the ready-made-oat pot [at least i did] ) with Skim milk- and a handful of berries that didn't make the cut into my pic. The yellow..stuff.. is 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites. It may look slightly gross in this pic, but i assure you in the 0.4seconds it took me to inhale all this food IT WAS YUMMY.
Oats: Low Glycaemic Index and therefore provide slow release energy.
Eggs: Your muscles haven't been fed since dinner, YOU GIVE YOUR DAMN MUSCLES SOME PROTEIN.
Berries: antioxidants and fibre.


Last week i met with a trainer to discuss competing in the Bikini Level Competition (undecided which federation), and now all systems are go :). I have been thinking about this for a while- i like goals and challenging myself; i love to work towards something because it gives this more of a purpose. I can't wait to experience the highs and the lows- and you will experience them WITH ME thanks to this blog. SORRY NOT SORRY.

Here is a picture i took this morning.
 I am only seeing my trainer once a week to destroy my glutes. I wasn't blessed with a bum and i have high goals in my mind SEE PICTURE
Amanda Latona: IFBB Pro
If she can do it, I can do it. If she can have it, I can have it. ITS SIMPLE. You just have to work hard to get it: The step to take from "i want" to "i have" is "to do". 
The other days i am training myself. I've done my research, and i know what i am doing so i trust myself to get my arms, chest and back how i want them to be. The glutes just need some extra help! I also have slightly adjusted my diet to make sure i have enough protein during the times when i need it the most. 
If you would like me to go through more detail, exercise regimes, routines or form then Instragram me @allysaetta to let me know and that will be my next blog.




Saturday, 14 September 2013

Cardio

Learning and Review: Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular Exercise: Cardio: Aerobic exercise which intends to improve the oxygen system.  The heart rate is maintained at at least 50% of its maximum level.

Some science facts:

Ways of burning glucose/sugar: 1. Aerobic (with oxygen) or 2. Anaerobic (without oxygen. leads to lactate) 

ATP: energy currency of muscle cells. 
It is produced in the mitochondria in cells ("the energy factory" of a cell). Mitochondria produce energy (ATP). Mitochondria is able to increase in size and number. Increased size and number leads to an increased availability of energy. Break down carbohydrate and fat for fuel.

Calorie = unit of energy.


Energy: 
Sources at rest: Fats 80–90%; carbohydrates 5–18% and protein 2–5%

Sources during exercise: muscle carbohydrate stores (glycogen), blood sugar, blood fatty acids, and intramuscular triacylglycerols (fat that is stored in muscle and fat tissues).

Factors: intensity and duration of exercise, the initial muscle glycogen levels, and supplementation with carbohydrates during exercise.

Typically: 
Light-Moderate use mainly glycogen, glucose and fat. 
Endurance sport relies on mainly Glycogen. 

Muscle growth (hypertrophy) occurs by satellite cells, providing there is sufficient amino acids available i.e. a positive nitrogen status by ingesting more protein than is lost. (amino acids --> protein synthesis: MUSCLE IS A PROTEIN). 



Steady State Cardio vs HIIT


Steady state/LISS:
->30minutes 
-burn calories and increase fitness/endurance. 
-low- moderate: able to hold a conversation
-e.g. walking on treadmill, riding bike
-heart rate at >65% of its maximum ability. 
-Aerobic system. 
- The muscle fibres used are Slow Twitch: Contract slowly, but keep going for a long time. 
Slow twitch fibres are red; they rely on a rich supply of oxygenated blood as they use oxygen to produce energy for muscle contraction. (AEROBIC)
Cardiac output = Heart Rate Stroke Volume
i.e. The volume of blood pumped from the heart in one minute is the sum of the number of beats of the heart per minute and the volume of blood pumped by the heart in each contraction. This enables the oxygen demands of the exercising muscles to be met.
Aerobic fitness is largely determined by Stroke Volume (which in itself is largely determined by Pre-load- i.e. how much blood is inside the ventricle). 

HIIT

-spike your heart rate (>85%)
-aim of burning fat and increasing your fitness. 
-Short sprint intervals are coupled with low-moderate intensity. (bursts of speed at your full maximum)
-Examples include alternating a sprint (for, say 15 seconds), with a slower paced walk/jog (for, say 60 seconds), doing burpees, weight lifting. 
-Anaerobic system: generates Lactate.  
- The muscle fibres used are Fast Twitch: 
Contract quickly, but rapidly get tired
Fast twitch fibres don't use oxygen to make energy, so they don't need such a rich blood supply (typically lighter in colour) (ANAEROBIC)

Calories burnt
  • 15minutes of steady state cardio reads more kcal burnt than if you had done 15minutes of HIIT (alternating 1m sprint with 1m walk, for example). 
  • LISS: burn calories at precise moment
  • However, HIIT training is known for its 'afterburn' i.e calories are burned not only at the moment that you are exercising, but also for hours after: 24 hours. This is due to an elevated EPOC, which is the oxygen consumption - and thus caloric expenditure- after an exercise session. This has been depicted in LaForgia, Withers& Gore study whereby EPOC has a greater increase in HIIT than in steady state cardio.
Problem with endurance training:
-Body adapts to physiological stresses: Typically, 30-60minutes 3-7x week of endurance training leads to long term adaptions such as increased thickness of heart muscle, to become more effective and efficient as a pump. 
Improved cardiovascular function leads to an increased VO2 Max. 

VO2 MAX: ability to consume, distribute and use oxygen as a means to provided energy. It is a predictor of exercise performance. Increased VO2 max leads to improved exercise performance.

Having to challenge the body after it adapts (as aerobic fitness increases)
  • increasing the duration of the exercise: PROBLEM: Now if you are already doing a 45 minute run, and you have to increase it to 60minutes --> boring or time consuming. 

A study by Wilson et al  showed a temporary boost in weight loss with steady state cardio, that was short-lived once the metabolism adjusted. The study also showed there was more muscle loss in steady state cardio than in HIIT. 
Another 8week study by Daussin et al showed HIIT produced physiological gains, such as an increase in VO2 Max (15% in HIIT, 9% in steady state cardio), and an overall increase in performance and health. This is supported by Helgerud et al. 

How to changing your metabolism
  1. increase muscle muss
  2. Increase muscle’s oxidative capacity (mitochondria: number and activity: produce ATP and burn fats)

Gibala et al: 
HIIT: increase in the number and size of mitochondria 
Burgomaster et al, MacDougall et al:
increase in oxidative enzymes within the mitochondria

In terms of Fat burning
Perry et al:
-increase in fat burning with HIIT in 6 weeks 
Talanian et al:
-also presented this finding but in a 2 week study. 

Horowitz & Klein:
-ncrease in fat burning with steady state cardiovascular exercise also. 


Remember: If you see a form of exercise as a chore, something you really hate the idea of doing, guess what... YOU WONT BE DOING IT FOR LONG.. you will resent it, and resent your workouts, and mentally that will hinder your progress. Do what you love and love what you do. Do what gets you pumped and rearing to go, and if that is a 30-45minute run then DO THAT and ENJOY IT and F anyone who judges. Whatever works for you will WORK and lead to results. LIFESTYLE CHANGE- not short term fixes.


Cardio: more fat burnt as fuel but this is short term. I.e. short term studies show that steady state cardio is best for fat burning.
HIIT: Due to the changes in the Mitochondria, HIIT is ultimately the best. i.e. Long term studies show HIIT has the best change in overall body fat composition.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Learning: Training Structure and Goals

Training Structure: Reps and Sets

I may just be slightly slow, or gym-mentally challenged, but it took me a WHILE to get these concepts into my head. So here is some information that is simplified that i would have found helpful without having to trail through the 1239213 articles available on the internet.

A Rep: If it is a bicep curl, it is how many times you are repeatedly curling that weight. If you have curled 10 times, then you have done 10 reps.
            If it is a squat, it is how many times you are squatting repeatedly.
            WITHOUT A REST/PAUSE.

A Set: If you have done 10reps, and you take a break (i.e. 30secs-1min), and then repeat the exercise. If you do, for example, 10reps --> pause --> 10 reps --> pause --> 10 reps, you have done 3 sets.

Training Goals: Strength, Mass and Endurance

A pause between the sets is known as "rest". But why do we pause/rest and how long should this be for? It depends on your Goal.

If you want to get stronger, you need to rest in order to allow your body to get enough energy back.
Those working to build strength typically use heavy weights. Because it is heavy weight, you can't do a large number of reps, so typically 1 to 6 reps is performed. Because a lot of energy is required, without the use of oxygen (anaerobic), your body relies on Phosphagen as a reserve.
ATP-Pc stands for Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine.
ATP is the energy source of the muscle cell.
ATP-Pc ---> ADP
Phosphagen provides energy for 15 seconds.
It takes 3 minutes to fully replenish Phosphagen stores
This helps you get enough energy to SMASH your next set ;)
This is typically used by PowerLifters.

If you're after increasing the size of the muscle the routine is somewhat different. Increasing muscle size is also termed "Hypertrophy" for us science geeks.
The science behind this is more to do with muscle-growing ("Anabolic", for us geeks) hormones, lactate and blood flow. An increase of these desirable things (particularly desirable to bodybuilders) are associated with shorter rest periods of 1-2 minutes. This is also why you get that achey, fatigued feeling after: damn Lactic acid! Don't think that you can't have one goal without the benefit of another- you will still increase in strength, but it is more of a short term gain, accompanied with significant hypertrophy.

If you're after Endurance, i.e. building stamina, being able to do more without feeling the fatigue as quickly, the rest period is at its shortest. 45seconds-2minutes. Light-moderate weight is typically used it with high reps (15-20). This is because you are drawing energy with the use of Oxygen (Aerobic). By providing oxygen, you are minimising the production of Lactate (the cause of the achey, sore feeling), therefore your muscles are less likely to fatigue. The science behind this is to do with your hormones and your vascular (blood) system.

Hope this helps!


Initiating a Change

When it comes to living a fitness-lifestyle, one quote that really does prove to be true is "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail". I found this relevant to my nutrition and diet, as well as my gym workouts. There was a time i used to go in to the gym and leave it up to how i felt once i was inside, and whether it was a "treadmill" day, or a "crosstrainer" day, or a "do weights/abs at the end" day etc. I knew this wasn't going to really get me the goals i wanted, but i didn't really know how to change my mindset. Once you get into a routine of thinking or acting a certain way, it becomes difficult to change it. Then i realised:
Well, ain't that the truth. So i was going to have to change something. And the way i initiated that change was to get involved in some gym classes. I used to think gym classes were nonsense. How can a class really help you when its not individualised, tailored to your own personal fitness, goals, age, weight etc. And i did get some stick from it, about it being the lazy option, too generalised ETC. But it helped. It challenged me because the trainer taking the class would push me, and i was able to challenge my comfort zone. Now i used to go extremely "hard" at the gym before, make no assumption that i was a weakling, slowly jogging for 2 minutes then stopping. NO. I was always dripping with sweat by the end of my workout, i would make sure i pushed myself to the point of fatigue, often did HIIT sprints, and was commended by guys at how "hard i go", unlike a lot of the girls at my gym who looked beautiful at the beginning and beautiful by the end. Nope, i was a sweaty pig. But going to the classes made me alter my mindset and that was the beginning of something great. I started seeing exercise as a way of sculpting my body as opposed to "burning off the calories i had eaten". I started to change the way i reached fatigue, say by going to spinning and sprinting right at the beginning of my exercise for longer or with more resistance than if i had been doing it myself. I stopped listening to my own voice and started pushing my body. 
I also started to get introduced to implementing weights into my workout, and centre-ing a workout around weights. I knew that women were being encouraged to get off the treadmill and "lift heavy", but that was so difficult for me to actually do when my gym was full of young, ripped 20 year olds leaving no space for anyone on the weights section. It was easier to "push myself hard'" on the treadmill, then venture over and "go lift". Not only that, but i didn't know what the hell i would be doing. What weight would i use? What if i used bad form? A rep? A set? It was all really confusing and overwhelming. But the classes helped me break that mentality and start to learn the concept behind weights, and the names for certain exercises, including the form, what was an okay weight for me etc. I built the courage. I knew, however, that in order to get the real results i was after that i couldn't just depend on classes. I had to take what i had learnt from doing the classes and implement it into the gym. I started becoming "used to" the classes, and felt it was actually going to hold me back. Body Pump, in particular, is one that comes to mind: it helped me in so many ways to get acquainted with weights, but the very high rep range meant that i wasn't using heavy or even slightly-heavy weights because we were doing 3293481239 reps of each exercise. NOW there is a lot of debate regarded high rep:lower weight vs low rep:heavy weight vs very low rep:extremely heavy weight, but body pump uses A LOT more reps. An entire song worth of reps with sometimes no break. It also means that you cheat on your form, because by the 2394234th rep, your muscle does fatigue and because you have to keep going (in synchrony with the rest of the class), you end up losing the true form of the exercise that is imperative to working the muscle. NOW I AM NOT SLAYING BODY PUMP. it was FANTASTIC. and without it i would NOT have ever got the stamina, knowledge or courage to step into the weight section of the gym. I would still be on that treadmill, sweating my calories away but not reaching my goals. 
This is why i repeatedly use the term "Journey", when discussing my experience with fitness and nutrition. You cannot begin as an expert. It takes a lot of trial and a hell of a lot of errors. And i sure am still learning, making trials and errors (on a weekly basis). You will wish you had known what you know now months before, but it takes failure to reach success. You will wish you had started sooner than you had. One thing is for sure, you can't just read about it and learn, you have to go out there and experience this for yourself. Classes worked for me, but they may not necessarily for you AND THAT'S OKAY. You just have to find what does. And you will.

This is a photo i took this morning of my progress:
September 13th




Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Learning: Supplements Explained

Supplements

If you're into your fitness, or even if you're just starting out, you've probably heard the term "Supplements" a fair few times. If not, then you will after reading this. This post is dedicated to really explaining what the most common supplements are used for, because it's something a lot of people take without really knowing why. It is an unbiased review with- what i found to be- the most relevant scientific information, without having to sit and "read" it all (basically skim read and not take anything in, then get bored and press the cross on your browser). 

This picture highlights the fact that a lot of people are hesitant about introducing supplements into their diet because of the stigma around using steroids. Also, supplements are expensive, their dosage, timings of intake, and effect is still not fully known. Steroids are not part of the group of "supplements" gym-goers use as..they..are..illegal... and the ones used by some/many in the fitness/bodybuilding industry are different to the medicinal ones prescribed by doctors to treat things like arthritis (corticosteroids). The ones i will briefly mention are termed 'Anabolic Steroids'. The simple definition of Anabolic is "building up", which is the opposite of Catabolic "breaking down". Anabolic steroids are related to male sex hormones that promote growth of muscle, and along with it the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic). Major side effects include organ damage (liver, kidney, heart). In males, they are at risk of developing breasts and shrinking of their testicles; women are at risk of facial hair growth, changes to their menstrual cycle, and a deeper voice, whilst teenagers can serious affect their growth. After looking at many pictures of bodybuilders there are some that are OBVIOUSLY taking them, and you can spot them by what looks extremely unnatrual- i.e. the human body would not be able to form this much muscle had it not have been for a little extra somethin'somethin'. And women do not have the same hormones as men do, so naturally aren't able to build that much muscle that you see in its extreme. That being said, a lot of fitness-competing federations have banned the use of steroids, and do drug checks on athletes to ensure no-one's being naughty.

Okay, enough about steroids. Now onto the commonly used/heard LEGAL supplements:

Note: "supplement"= "to enhance"; it should be used supplementary to a diet, and not to replace.

Essential= Made by the body. Non Essential= Not made by the body so requires sources for intake e.g. food 

BCA:
What is it: Essential Amino Acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine.
Why is it taken: Taken with the aim of assisting/speeding up muscle recover and thus preventing the reduction of muscle size and strength.
How much is recommended: There is incomplete research about how much and how often is most beneficial. Some tablets have 200mg in each, others have 5g in each. Some say in order for it to truly be efficient you need 20g in a day.
Science behind it: When you put your muscles under tension, i.e. resistance training, that exceeds its pre-existing capacity, causes trauma to the fibres, and then thereafter they repair (by the handy work of Satellite Cells), increasing in thickness and cell-number.

Beta Alanine:
What is it: Non Essential Amino Acids. i.e. not made by the body so obtained by dietary sources including protein rich foods (e.g. chicken, fish)- we ingest 'dipeptides' which contain beta alanine.  Another source is from our liver.
Science behind it: Increased beta Alanine --> Increases Carnosine --> pH buffering --> optimal conditions for maintaing maximum muscle strength and endurance.

L-Glutamine:
What is it: An Amino Acid.
Why is it taken: Taken to prevent muscle breakdown and support muscle growth.


Creatine Monohydrate:
What is it: Made from 3 Amino Acids: Glycine, Methionine, Arginine.
Why is it taken: Taken with the aim to maximise muscle strength and size. 
Science behind it: ATP is the source of energy. Adenosine Tri-Phosphate. Tri means Three. ATP is broken down into ADP. Adenosine Di Phosphate. Di means Two. So there is a loss of a Phosphate. This phosphate is what is providing the energy to your cells. When you exercise, you are using up energy. A lot of energy. In muscle the natural occurring creatine is Creatine Phosphate. Taking CM has been proven to increase CP in muscle. CP (Creatine Phosphate) donates a Phosphate to restore the amount of energy (ATP) available. More ATP- More energy. More energy- More able to perform.
In terms of muscle mass, Creatine increases fluid within muscle cells, and this hydration promotes anabolism (building), as well as increasing the activity of cells which grow the muscle (Satellite cells)







Whey:
What is it: Fast absorbing form of protein (20minutes into your veins, 20-40 minutes for amino acid levels to peak in the blood).
Why is it taken: Taken to stimulate protein synthesis.

Casein:
What is it: Slow absorbing form of protein. Peak of amino acids in blood reached 3-4 hours from taking it.
Why is it taken: Taken to reduce protein breakdown.



CLA:
What is it: Fatty Acids.
Why is it taken: Taken with the aim of reducing fat mass by stimulating (PPAR) system to burn fat.
How much is recommended: It is advised to be taken with meals, and its recommended dosage varies considerably (3,200-6,400mg daily). Again, research is still incomplete. 

Omega 3 aka 'Fish oil': 
What is it: Essential Fatty Acid
Why is it taken: To promote a healthy immune response and joint mobility.
How much is recommended: up to 3g per day. 


Green Tea (Extract):
What is it: Tea made from leaves.
Why is it taken: Antioxidant effect is theorised to reduce muscle/joint/tendon inflammation from the free radicals released during exercise. Fat burner effect by increasing metabolism and fat oxidation.



I will do another post on pre-supplements and fat burners.



Myprotein Is a good online source of these. As is Amazon.
Holland & Barrett and many other health stores are VERY expensive. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Review: Permanent Makeup

Permanent Makeup

http://www.traciegiles.co.uk

Being naturally fair, with very light eyebrows, I spent a lot of my time relying on eyebrow-tinting and drawing in my eyebrows as part of my makeup-daily routine (Dior Eyebrow Pencil was, in my opinion, the best), and i had been thinking about permanent eye-brow tattoo for sometime. These sort of images (see below) terrified the life out of me/ eyebrows off of me, and i held out for a long time. I did my research, i looked for a reputable place and i considered it for some time. Tracie Giles and her incredible work was featured on The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE), and it really did look amazing- you couldn't tell that the eyebrows were tattood on, as they looked so natural- nothing like the horror pictures you see, and nothing like you imagine the word 'tattoo' to represent.

So, I went ahead and booked a consultation, and went to knightsbridge (where the clinic is) to discuss the shape and look i was after, and get her advice. I told her that i loved the shape, thickness and dark colour of Megan Fox's eyebrows, and she drew the shape with pencil. I was sold.

I went ahead and booked in to get it done, and it is honestly one of the best investments i have ever done. I don't need to use my eyebrow pencil/spend time drawing a perfect shape and never being really content with how they look. Eyebrows, strangely, do a lot for the face, and i realised that waking up in the morning, going to the gym, having a shower etc, you just always look acceptable because they make your eyes stand out. 
First layer of tattoo-ink
The first layer of tattoo-ink is applied following application of numbing cream. The sensation, varies from a slight scratching (bearable) to nothing when the numbing kicks in. The stencilling takes about 1hour and you check it before the tattoo is used, so can make any amendments so that it is perfect. The tattoo-ing then takes about 30-40 minutes. It is actually somewhat relaxing. You then need to book in after a few weeks to have the 2nd layer applied, and the real results are then because there will be some slight fading in between the 2 appointments. Nonetheless, the fading is minimal and better than what your eyebrows look without it! Noone notices my eyebrows are tattood; the tattoo is so perfectly realistic it looks like hairs. I get my eyebrows threaded/tweeze the hairs that grow around the tattoo stencil, and of course leave the hairs that grow on top of the stencil. 
I laugh, but i also agree.
Eyebrows and Lips- Megan Fox is blessed
 Well, me-being-me I then became interested in tattoo on the lips! Permanent lip colour that makes your lips look bigger- errr COUNT ME IN!! So i saved up, and made the investment. The same system goes- you need 2 layers of tattoo. This does hurt a little more because your lips are more sensitive and i would say the scratching of the tattoo is - at times- unbearable but i have learnt to a) ask for more numbing cream, and b) take paracetamol 30 minutes before my appointment!! Also, do not do this on the week of a special occassion. My lips were swollen for 2 days, and the pigment does peel for around 5 days, and your lips are so dry it is not attractive.


After when at home- Swollen!!
Before
After

 FYI: You can still use lipstick- the pigment of the lipstick is thicker than that of the tattoo.

Personal opinion: Both are fantastic investments - one of my best decisions, and i will continue to get these done.

Top-ups are required between 9-12months. I am one of those stupid people that use Sunbeds, and this does lighten the tattoo so I need it done every 10months, but some people, particularly older people who don't break down the pigment as quickly, will not need it as frequently!

 Celebrities that have used Tracie Gile's services:
- Katie Price aka Jordan
- Jessica Jane Clement
- Chantell Houghton 
- TOWIE: Lucy Meck, Jessica Wright, Lauren Goodger
- Geordie Shore: Sophie, Charlotte

Take a look at the website to see close up of the pictures- you can see how realistic the eyebrows look even from a zoomed-in angle!


Review: Restaurant: GymsKitchen

GymsKitchen  

http://www.gymskitchen.com

Place: Leyton, East London. New one opening in Essex.

If you're hungry.. or on one of those juice cleanses i have recently blogged about.. look away now, LOOK AWAY NOW!!

If not, then LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL FOOD!!!
Scrambled egg, Asparagus, Mixed Salad, Bean Salad, Sweet Potato, Chicken breast

Tofu, Broccoli, Asparagus, Bean salad, Mixed salad, Scrambled egg
The colours, the presentation, the HEALTH that is radiating off the plate, through the computer screen, into my eyes, my mouth and my stomach. Ok.. too much i know, but it's almost time for Meal 3 so i apologise for my taste buds doing all the talking in this one.

This place is really amazing: the people who work there and run this business are so lovely and friendly, the food is just incredible and there is a lot of satisfaction that comes with knowing you've eaten out in a restaurant (and the prices are excellent), and it was healthy! Plus if you take time to peel your eyes off your plate, and look around, a lot of people there are good looking with amazing bodies. That being said, don't be intimidated because there is a real big range in the customers! Young and old, all sizes, but all really friendly.

This is my favourite restaurant because, like i said, i love the fact that it is so healthy. They even have the calories and macronutrient (carb,protein,fat) breakdown on the menu!

Ok i saved the best picture till last....
Protein Pancake with Apple&Blueberries, Chocolate flavoured Protein ice-cream, Peanut butter

yoooooooou're welcome ;)

Twitter: @Gymskitchen
Instagram: @Gymskitchen106QE



Learning Points: Nutrition

Nutrition

This is to provide things I have learnt through experience and an avid interest in fitness and nutrition, aided by the fact i don't do anything half-heartedly and love researching the hell out of science-proven theories. 

- One of the most important facts that i was told time and time again, and really only grasped its importance until i followed through is that your nutrition is paramount to your results, both interms of the energy you have for your workout and the nutrients to grow muscle and lose fat (Fuel and Refuel). If you are under-eating, or your nutrition intake is inadequate then your results will either be short term or negligible, or - if you were as unlucky as me- result in weight gain and blaming it on "but exercise increases my appetite".

Lets take it back to school-days science:
Carbohydrates --> Glucose. 
Protein --> Amino Acids. 
Fats --> Fatty Acids. 

Glucose is required for energy and it's release into the blood following a meal leads to a surge of Insulin; Glucose will either be used as energy or, particularly in its excess, be stored as Glycogen. Amino Acids are the building blocks of Protein and Protein is the building block of Muscle. 
The 2 forms of Fatty Acids are Unsaturated and Saturated (bad) and are calorie dense so 1g of Fat provides 9 calories (as compared to Carb and Prot which provides 4calories). 
Calories are unit of energy.
Also, do not underestimate the importance of fibre. It is also a macronutrient you must be eating in adequate quantities. 
There are SO SO SO many diets out there, and so many guides to how you want to implement Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats into your diet. To name a few:

Ketogenic Diet: High Fat, Adequate Protein, Low Carbohydrate
IIFYM: Working out your macronutrient requirements according to BMI and activity level and dividing it, for example, 40/40/20
Clean Eating: Definition kind of unknown 
Paelo Diet: a diet aimed to mimic the diets of cavemen (meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts)
Eating Small Frequent meals e.g. 5 or 6

ITS GIVING ME A HEADACHE JUST THINKING ABOUT THEM ALL

I personally do not have time to analyse every single diet and i abide by the simple fact that If your calorie intake is more than your calorie output than it will lead to weight gain.

In order to build lean muscle you must have an adequate intake of protein (1- 1.5g per lbs weight). I have experimented in the past where i have probably consumed 2309482349234g per lbs weight, and it didn't get me "lean muscle", it got me fat. It is not as simple as "consume a whole load of protein and your muscle will use it ALL", and studies have shown this. There have also been studies to show that consuming a bolus of protein after a workout is not more beneficial to lean muscle growth as having it throughout the day.

What i personally do, and it works for me, is i have calculated the number of calories i need in a day, and i use the IIFYM calculator because i like to stay on track with how much macronutrient i need to consume. I combine this with a 'clean eating' plan, because i like to eat healthy- it is easy for me as i have been brought up on healthy foods, and so i am not/never tempted by fast food etc. Some days your calorie expenditure is more, other times it is less so there are obvious flaws, but as long as i know that my intake is sufficient to fuel my workout, and to grow lean muscle without storing fat, then i can deal with that. Now everyone is different, and your metabolism may be slower or faster than the IIFYM http://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/ accounts for, but this is why you need to own a mirror, and asses your progress through pictures/clothes/reflection/weight WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOOOOOUUU - and adjust accordingly. 
I also split my meals into 5 per day, because i like the concept of eating regularly because i like food and i don't feel bloated. It is a personal preference. The theory behind splitting your meals is that it prevents a hormone (Ghrelin) being released which is responsible for your appetite. Also, it is supposed to help regulate your glucose levels. A lot of people will argue against this. A lot of people also can't find time to eat 5x a day. Hence why you need to find something that WORKS for you, because if it doesn't feel convenient/manageable then guess what, 5 weeks down the line I BET YOU you wont be sticking to it. 

So i have breakfast around 10am, meal 2 around 12.30, meal 3 around 2.30, meal 4 5.30, Exercise, and then meal 5 straight after. 

PWO: Protein shake and banana

I ensure i have sufficient protein in meal 5, along with a fast-acting carbohydrate such as brown rice; there has been research done to prove protein uptake is faster and more effective if eaten with a fast acting carbohydrate. I also do not eat fats (my source is usually avacado) in meal 5 because it is believed that consumption of fats slows the uptake of protein, which your muscles require STAT after a workout. Remember, when you workout you are "damaging" the muscle, but thereafter the muscle hypertrophies (increases), providing there is sufficient amino acids. 

There is also a belief that fruit (-->fructose) is not regulated by insulin i.e. there is no insulin surge after you eat it, and thus many in the industry avoid fruit. Insulin is considered a pro-synthesis (anabolic) hormone for muscle. Also fructose must be broken down in the liver to be converted into glycogen first, and this delay means a greater chance of it being stored as fat. 

My Top Food Sources
Carbohydrates: Brown rice, Basmati Rice, Oats, Rice Cake
                          Quinoa, Mixed Grains
Protein: Tuna in spring water/brine, Chicken, Turkey, Egg [whites], Cottage cheese, Quark (if on the go: Protein bars, Protein shakes- will review in a later blog)
Fats: Avocado, egg Yolk
FibreBroccoli, Cauliflower, Pepper, Carrots, cherry tomatoes 

I enjoy green tea, fruit teas, normal tea, coffee which i have with skimmed milk and almond milk.

Water is your friend.

I do not use sugar, i rely on sweetener without Aspartame as there is a lot of bad press about it (my sources include Stevia, Splenda, Truvia, and i believe Candarel have a new one also)

Over summer, I sat and went through the whole process of working out calories, grams of macronutrients in all my favourite/usual foods and i have set meal plans for me that fit my requirements. Some may be able to pay a nutritionist for them to do this, but I didn't feel i needed to, being all Miss Independent and all. I did this because i had a really poor concept of portion-control and i knew something wasn't quite right in my portions because i had odd cravings and low energy at times (which lead to over-eating at naughty times). This, by the way, took a whole days work, and you will feel a little ridiculous googling the information/looking through packets and the back of tins etc, but once its all calculated ITS DONE. It eliminated a lot of guilt and guess-work i had, and it helped me 'trust the process' a lot more, because i knew i wasn't under-providing for my body or over-indulging (when you calculate things, you realise it is extremely easy to do). It also helped put food in perspective as a nutrient-provider, and some things did shock me like how much carbs are in one thing, and how much protein in another ETC. I also prepare some of my meals in advance, like if i know i'm going to get home after my gym workout and want food THEN AND THERE. 

I found this site particularly useful for my calculations: http://www.fatsecret.co.uk/calories-nutrition/

--> If you want something extra-ordinary you've got to do something that other people aren't willing to do
--> If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
--> 100% effort put into training, 100% put into your diet
--> Abs are made in the gym, but exposed in the kitchen.
--> It is a lifestyle.


NB: Source of science papers: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

A good read by someone i respect greatly in the industry: http://www.biolayne.com/nutrition/is-a-calorie-truly-a-calorie/

Monday, 9 September 2013

Review: Soulmatefood Juice Cleanse

Soulmatefood 5 day Juice Cleanse


I initially came across Soulmatefood from twitter! A lot of people i followed had tweeted about their Juice Cleanses- some female commercial/glamour models, 1 male fitness model, 2 men notorious in the fitness industry and many celebrities including professor green. This range of people, with different levels of activity and discipline made me interested to try it. I went on the website, and after looking at the price i closed the browser. I decided that the next best thing was to just follow soulmatefood on twitter, which i did. Then- like a sign from above- they tweeted about a 60% discount via Groupon, so i rushed back to my web-browser history, and filled out the details and before i knew it i had paid for it, assigned a date for the juices to be delivered, and had received a confirmation email. I chose to do the 5day cleanse for £80- originally £200 (3 days was £60, originally £150). I decided the best time to do this was during a week-day at uni, as there are days where we don't have time to get a lunch/the lunch options are unhealthy and limited, and i could just bring a few in my bag and sip them when necessary. 

A HUGE box delivered my juices, and at first it was overwhelming because there's 30 juice bottles (6bottles each day), and i had to find space in my family-fridge for these bottles, but they do disappear quickly! one day done, 6 bottles down, and much to the happiness of my mum, dad and sister, fridge space became available. Now people will questions what you're doing and why you're doing it, when you're sipping a bottle that has a massive number on it, and no solid food passes your mouth, and you'll struggle to find an answer other than "It's a juice cleanse".

Hunger:

The juices are yummy (particularly number 2) and therefore satisfying. They are fairly thick (don't expect a milkshake) so you don't feel actual hunger. Also, as you drink them frequently, you don't really give your body time to feel hungry (literal, physical hunger not just 'I'm bored, i could eat', it's time for the next one. By the 3rd day i would look at the clock HOPING the next drink was sooner, but that's more because of the mental process that comes with eating as opposed to actual hunger. On the fourth day i did experience actual hunger, but after 40mins of complaining the hunger went and WEIRDLY was replaced by complete satiety. I didn't need or want food. This truly exposed the mental/psychological aspect that accompanies food and eating. I would also advise a 1 bottle of juice: 1 bottle water ratio. And hot drinks, i.e. green tea (or if you're naughty like me then coffee because i do have an addiction to coffee and it wasn't time to break that addiction/ it is never that time). AND KEEP BUSY. Boredom is a recipe for disaster. Also mentally set in your mind that this is 3 or 5 days you've assigned as a challenge to stick to this juice cleanse, as well as paid for- don't give up because of the desire to have solid food- you won't die by doing this juice cleanse, it will all be positive and if you give in then you've sort of.. ruined/wasted it.

Energy:

You're energy levels do not drop. I saw some reviews that they experienced high levels of energy, and i have done this juice cleanse twice and all i can say is they must be popping some sort of pill with it. YOU DO NOT EXPERIENCE LOW ENERGY. But i wouldn't go as far to say you experience HIGH energy. Your energy levels are at a constant, perhaps because your glucose levels are not allowed to drop as you are consuming these drinks 6 times a day, and according to soulmatefood, all your nutritious needs are met. On the 2nd trial of this cleanse, i went to the gym 3 days of the 5 day cleanse, and i was able to do my cardio without feeling like i hadn't eaten for days. And my stomach felt flatter in my Gym top which was motivating haha.

Eating after the juice cleanse:

After 5 days of no solid foods, and an eye-opening experience that hunger is not solely to do with food, but that there really is a psychological aspect to it, you start to become more in-tune with your body and realise you can actually control your body more than you think. Also you realise that you may be hungry, but give it some time and the hunger pangs go. I AM NOT ENDORSING STARVATION. I am merely saying that the concept of over-eating can be overcome if you are willing to listen to your body and not act on every impulse of "meh im hungry".. or "meh im bored, so food". Personally, my appetite was a little reduced, and i wanted to eat in a way that was going to compliment the cleanse, so i stuck with small frequent meals, mainly vegetables, fruits, soups and salads for a few days. You can read on their website what they recommend. 

Day 1 and 2: I was excited to be doing this, and in truth fairly shocked at how easy it was.
Day 3 and 4: I started salivating at the thought of food. The challenge set in and tested my self-control.
Day 5: It's the last day so i saw a bright shiny light at the end of the tunnel.

Overall impression

Personally i found this to be very convenient- I could sleep in a little longer in the mornings because i could sip my breakfast on the train into placement, and i find eating when rushed/in public a bit awkward, so it was perfect for me. It really exposed my emotional side of eating, and how i can control my appetite, and even suppress it (if at 9pm i was hungry, i'm not saying that i would suppress my appetite for lunch for example because, people, FOOD IS IMPORTANT). I  just asked myself if i would do it again, and personally, because of reasons like im trying to build a big booty, and want to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat, at the moment the answer is no. Now that is because of my current goals, rather than a reflection of the cleanse itself because remember i did do this twice so it wasn't something i brushed off into the "this is crap" pile. However, if I had money to splurge and wanted to do a diet plan where i was sent meals then Soulmatefood.com would be the place i would go to, because of how good my experience has been with this cleanse. Plus the food looks so so SO good on the website. It is not something to do for weight loss, because it will not make you lose fat, i can assure you. It is also not something to do if you intend to eat like a horse after and just wanna give yourself an excuse to do so. In terms of doing a juice cleanse for weight loss, you really have to think long term goals, not short term! I think if this is something that you're curious to try, or you've been looking for a Detox to do from a reputably company, then this is a great juice cleanse - it tastes good, it is reliable and you can chose the dates you want it delivered, and well does exactly what it says it does!

Hope this helps!


Review: Eyelash Extensions

Eyelash Extensions

My first ever experience of eyelash extensions was when i was 18 going on holiday to Aiya Napa with school friends after A Levels. I wanted to be able to wake up in the morning, go straight to the pool without thinking about mascara/waterproof makeup and be able to look acceptable at all times. Plus i had seen so many celebrities with them, and i was really after that Barbie-pristine look. Looking back, i remember asking for the "thickest, longest, fakest", and lucky for me (although maybe i didn't see it at the time), they didn't give me some ridiculous fake looking ones you see LOADS of girls with, because they said it really is dependent on how long your own lashes are and how many lashes you have. I believe there is a rule about the length of the fake lash in regards to the length of your own. Now, if anyone tells me differently, i will run a mile because that just increases the likeliness of damage. For the first 3 days they were great because they were all intact and neat/none had crossed over. But as i sleep on my side/front, wore sun cream, sweat, swam, some started falling out and it just didn't look as full. I was also starting to use eye-liner and mascara on top of this (you can do this, but it just shortens the lifespan), and.. well.. they started to irritate me. 

Thereafter, my next experience was when i was going on holiday with my boyfriend at the time, and wanted - again- to look pristine at all times. Again, after 3-5 days (less because i wasn't layering on the mascara and being pushed into the pool by random guys around the hotel in aiya napa), they started to look a bit.. used and abused? I then decided, the hype was exaggerated about them. But then - because i like to exhaust every avenue- i decided to get them done again but with a different company, that was also known to be good. I, again, spent £70 for a new set, and other than leaving me with a slight addiction and less eyelashes, i wasn't impressed. I was however nervous to take them off to see the damage it had done. Luckily, as i only used them twice in a row, not much damage was actually done, but it was weird to see my own eyelashes again (shorter, paler, thinner)- so i would advise eyelash tinting for after.

My most recent experience was in April 2013 (5 months ago). Now i had NO intention of getting these done again, but i went to get Lasik on my right eye and discovered- ON THE DAY OF THE SURGERY- that you can't wear makeup on your eye for a week- AND I WAS GOING ON HOLIDAY THE NEXT DAY. I quickly booked in to one of the salons nearby (which happened to be the salon where i get my eyebrows threaded) and arranged to get eyelash extensions. I am not advising anyone do this, or even go on holiday, around the date of Lasik, but desperate times calls for desperate measures. I LOVED THEM. For the first 5 minutes i hated them because they were still not as full as the look i go for when i go clubbing- but after 5 minutes they grew on me AND I LOVED THEM. They looked pretty from the side and birds-eye and i was so happy that i didn't need makeup to feel acceptable. I went on holiday and they served the purpose, and after a few days again i started applying eyeliner and mascara to them. Then i was left with the slight addiction, and instead of booking to get them removed, i found myself booking for an infil. This continued, and my excuse was that i needed them for an upcoming beauty pageant (Miss Essex 2013). And i got them infilled 3-4 times before the lady doing them told me i needed to stop because it looks like i've lost a lot of my natural lashes, as she has noticed a difference. WAKE UP CALL. So i stopped, and for 3 weeks had to apply vaseline to my eyelashes before i slept everynight, and depend on eyelash strips when i went out. I believe this happened for a combination of reasons- infilling one after the other and not letting my own lashes recover, the person doing them was GREAT and clearly knew what she was doing but lets not overlook the fact it was a salon that is specialised in eyeBROW THREADING. Also, at this place a new set took 45minutes, whereas the salon before it was a 2hour process. Nonetheless, after a month of less eyelashes, and my eyelid was somewhat swollen for a prolonged period, my eyelashes grew back and i actually think they grew thicker and longer. One of those "trim your hair and your hair grows quicker" type of paradox perhaps. 

Lesson learnt: Reserve for special occasions, although they say lasts 3 weeks- perhaps only leave on for 2. Do not infil, get those bastards removed. And if you can wear eyelash strips, chose them over these. They do the exact same only don't leave you with damage and poverty.


Me on holiday with them (First set)
2nd set

Second Set

This is just F*in funny and true

Final set (3rd or 4th infil). Yes i am sleeping in a lecture.