Crayfish Salad – (and some pretty exciting news!)

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Another interesting flavour combination to tickle your tastebuds!

Ingredients

  • 1 portion crayfish tails
  • 1/2 mango
  • Small amount of chopped chorizo
  • Salad leaves

I used half a pack of the crayfish tails you can get from Lidl, but I didn’t think to note down the pack size, hence the vagueness of my ingredients list! Also the chorizo I bought was a cheaper chorizo-type thing from Aldi of which I used two slices, but I know chorizo usually comes in different forms so I will leave it to you to deduce the amount to use. I found a little goes a long way.

I’m really enjoying combining fish and fruit at the moment, I think the fresh combination of sweet and salty works really well especially in these summer months. I have one more to try out before I move into a lower-carb phase (so no fruit) which I am very excited about, and will be sure to post!

Training of late has been a little frustrating, with my bench shirt difficulties and struggling to get to depth in my squat suit I have been feeling a little unprepared for the British. Sometimes all it takes though, is some outside perspective to remind me of my successes. Speaking to a friend of mine on Facebook I was reminded that although I have been struggling with these two lifts, my deadlift is sailing and the 130kg british standard is well within my reach.

I’ve also tried to remind myself that the weights I’ve been working with inn the region of my opener for squat and bench are still pretty darn heavy, and if I was repeatedly doing singles at an equivalent weight raw I’d be congratulating myself! Kit lifting is such a different game to raw and it definitely doesn’t always go right. I just need to trust that my coach is right when he says we’re just where we need to be at the moment, and the British will go as swimmingly as I need it to!

Which brings me to my next point, which I have somehow forgotten to mention in the past few days! Some very exciting news indeed! Following some email conference with one of the head honchos in the GBPF, I am delighted to announce that I have been nominated for selection for the World Junior Championships in Hungary. This doesn’t mean that I am definitely going, as my performance at the British will be assessed before I am officially selected, but I am definitely in the running. One step closer to my goal!

Although there is a lot of pressure for me to perform well at the British, I will have one less pressure on me in terms of my weight. I weighed myself at 52.0kg this morning, two weeks out and not even having done keto (though I have been restricting my carbs a little) I’m well on my way to being safely within my weight class. I’m going to let this be a lesson to me for future competitions; to start early and put less pressure on myself! It also means that the kit is fitting me more like it will actually fit me at the competition, as even a kilo can make a massive difference.

The frustrations I’ve been having with my kit, while putting me in a grump during training, have actually made me more determined to get things right and make sure I’m fully prepared and confident for the British. Looking forward to the next week or so of training and tuning up, of which I will keep you all updated.

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Flavour Combinations – Mackerel Salad

I’ve been trying out a few new flavour combinations for salads in recent weeks, but it feels a bit wrong to post them as recipes, as combining the ingredients in a dish is hardly taxing!  So I’ve made a new category; flavour combinations, where you will be able to find all my ‘recipes’ for interesting salads.

First of which is a delicious but slightly weird mackerel salad, inspired by my mother.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 fillet smoked mackerel
  • 1 steamed beetroot
  • 1 satsuma
  • Salad leaves (I used a mix with rocket)

I know it sounds weird, but the sweet of the satsuma really complements the saltiness of the mackerel.It’s also quite a stunning salad with the purple of the beetroot and orange satsuma. Don’t knock it before you try it!

This salad is a nutrient powerhouse; mackerel is an outstanding source of omega-3 fatty acids and is also rich in vitamins B6, B12 and D. Beetroot is high in folate and manganese, and also provides magnesium, potassium and iron. Satsumas are high in vitamin A and C, and full of antioxidants, while rocket is a great source of vitamin K and alpha-linoleic acid. Makes you wonder why people rely on multivitamins when combinations like this exist…

 

Shepherdess Pie

With my mission to have a varied diet, I’ve been experimenting a bit in the kitchen lately, so you can all look forward to some more healthy recipes in the coming weeks.

This is my (relatively) low-carb take on a shepherd’s pie, using celeriac and leek for the topping and pork mince for the base. This is one of the first recipes that I’ve made entirely from my own imagination, and I’m really proud of how it’s turned out, hopefully you’ll like it too! I hadn’t ever tried celeriac until a few weeks ago in a lovely vegetable pie that my friend made me, so this is my first time ever using it, and I think it works really well against the rich flavour of the pork mince. This took me about 40 minutes to prepare but I’m not very efficient in the kitchen, and was making it up as I went along, so you could realistically make it in about 30 minutes. I’d love to know what people think of this recipe, so if you try it  out do let me know what you think 🙂

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Ingredients 

For the topping

  • 1kg Celeriac (AKA celery root)
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 50g low fat cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the base

  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 500g reduced fat pork mince
  • 1x 500g carton passata
  • 1/4 tsp stevia (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • Frying oil of your choice

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Makes 4 largish portions or 5 Susie-sized portions

Method

  1. Peel and chop the celeriac into cubes, then put on to boil for approximately 20 minutes
  2. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic, and fry over a medium heat (I used coconut oil but you can use whichever oil you prefer) for 5 minutes until softened, adding the crushed fennel seeds after about 4 minutes
  3. Add the pork mince to the onion mix and fry over a medium-high heat until browned
  4. Add the carton of passata to the pork, reducing the heat to low-medium and allow it to simmer
  5. At this point chop the leeks and put them in to soften with the celeriac for the remaining few minutes of boiling
  6. If using, add the stevia and salt to the pork at this point. I always add some sort of sweetener to tomato dishes to combat the acidity, but usually don’t use salt. The salt and sweetener are entirely optional
  7. If you want the top to be a little crunchy, preheat your grill now
  8. Drain the vegetables and allow them to steam off for a few minutes, then use a hand-held blender to puree these along with the cream cheese. I didn’t thoroughly blitz the mix and left some leek pieces in tact for added texture
  9. Take the pork off the heat (it should have simmered for about 10 minutes now), and pour into an oven dish, spreading the veg mix on top
  10. Sprinkle the top of the pie with any seasonings that you fancy, and place under the grill for about 5 minutes until a little brown and crispy
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Sweet Spot

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Having experimented a lot with my diet over the last year or so, at the moment I seem to have found a sweet-spot where I’m able to eat a variety of foods, including some carbohydrates, and stay full while losing/maintaining weight and keeping up my performance in the gym. Although I’ve only been keeping this diet for just over a week, I can already feel its benefits in my energy and satiety levels, the number on the scale and my overall satisfaction with my diet.

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An example of my day’s food at the moment is as follows:

8am: black coffee with tbsp coconut oil

10am: 3 tbsp low-fat fromage frais with fruit and seeds

11:30am: portion of shepherdess pie (recipe to follow)

2:30pm: mackerel salad (recipe to follow)

5pm: banana pancake (banana, 2 eggs, 1/2 scoop casein)

8pm: (post-training) baked potato with tin of tuna, low-fat cream cheese and asparagus

I’ve found that having my coffee then waiting a few hours to eat to be better than getting up and eating straight away, as I’m able to do my fasted low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio (walking in the park) and work up a small appetite for my first meal, which is still only small. Low fat fromage frais has been a god-send find, as it is cheap (£1 for 500g) and boasts better macros than other low-fat yoghurts, beaten only by 0% greek yoghurt in my opinion. Perfect as a scrimper’s alternative. Having banished fruit (bar bananas) from my diet for months, it’s nice to have something sweet in my diet once more, though I do feel like a classic white-girl dieter having fruit and yoghurt for breakfast!

I’ve successfully made my way down to sub 53kg, with a few weeks to go and still eating carbs. If I continue in the same vein I’ll be comfortably into my category and still be able to maintain my strength. I attribute this weight loss (over a kilo in just over a week) to consistently walking in the morning, a clean and consistent diet, and an increase in my fluid intake.

With the added benefit of being LISS cardio, I’ve found walking in the park to be a great way to start the day, as it gives me time to enjoy the greenery, organise my thoughts and wake up a bit before I start the day. `I cannot recommend it enough to anyone that gets a bit frazzled and bogged down with their to-do list, and it’s been suggested that it can help lift your spirits too. I’ve also been working on a small personal goal, which I’m not going to divulge now (because of this TED video), but which I will hopefully be able to showcase sometime in the near future!

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As it’s getting rather hot down here in Bournemouth at the moment, I’ve needed to increase my fluid intake, which has probably also helped with my weight management. Water is such a vital part of our health, yet I was almost surprised to find it in my 200 super foods book. It’s the most absolutely essential part of our diet, but some of us still walk around unknowingly dehydrated on a daily basis. Even mild dehydration can impair both physical and mental performance, so make sure you’re getting enough water. I try and aim for at least 3 litres per day, and increase this in the warm weather.

Although I’ve reduced the amount I’ve been posting recently, this is hopefully for the better. I’m trying to make sure I post more quality rather than quantity, as even I found reading my regular training updates a little tedious. So hopefully the quality of my blog will improve and I can continue to regale you with the life of a 20 year old powerlifter without boring your socks off  🙂

 

Switch-up

After the competition at the weekend, and a lot of body and CNS fatigue, my diet training this week has been a little different out of necessity more than anything. I think it would have been very unwise to continue with my low-carb diet and equipped lifting directly after the competition.

Training on Tuesday spurred this temporary change, the program for the session was various sets of differing reps on the bench, but after struggling with what I would consider relatively easy weights we realised my body was probably telling me something. I did what I could on the bench (which wasn’t much) then moved onto some strict overhead press with the barbell, which was tougher than I would have liked but enjoyable to switch things up a little. Had a little consultation with the chiropractor and he cracked me and poked me leaving me feeling a little looser, but still rather stiff from the weekend.

Jujitsu yesterday was very enjoyable, drilling arm bars, triangles, omoplata and a combination of all three. I’ve worked on all of these before, so was quite comfortable, but challenged myself to work on using the other side of my body to complete the movements, which is easier said than done! I find it so strange that doing a triangle with one leg is so much easier than the other. Finished off the session with some rolling, I felt like it was about a 50/50 fight with two of the guys I rolled with, and managed to submit them both, but my normal rolling partner has improved loads in the last month so it wasn’t quite so even! Still held my own quite well though.

Unfortunately no powerlifting training now until Sunday as my coach’s daughter is getting married so he is busy with those arrangements. Took the opportunity today to venture into the commercial gym and actually had a really great time. It was really nice to get my blood pumping, which is a rare phenomenon with powerlifting training. Decided to jog down to the gym to really shake things up, and started off with some conventional deadlifts. It was quite an ego boost to approach a man who was deadlifting, ask if I could work in then stop him when he went to strip off the bar because I was going to be using the same weight as him.

Worked with 70kg for my conventional deadlifts, doing 5 sets of 5 (after a warm up set at 60kg). Watching myself in the mirror, I noticed my knees pushing in a little when struggling with the last few reps so I tried to adjust this throughout, thinking about pushing my knees out. Next onto some front squats, got a little enthusiastic with my first rep and smashed into the fixed safeties, so made sure not to go too deep on my next ones (which pained me). Did 4 sets of 6 at 45kg which was tough but enjoyable. Next onto some pull-ups, going to max reps (which ended up being about 3 lol) and finishing up with a hold. Definitely need to work on my pull-ups, time to get my home bar out again! Used the cable machine to do low-to-high wood chop type things (I’m sure there is a proper term for this), to work on my core rotation as my rotational stability has been an issue for my back in the past. Next a few dips with a drop set, followed by some ab work with a swiss ball. It felt so good to just blast music and get on with a session like I did all summer, sweat dripping and heart pumping. Then had to run home, which was a little less enjoyable than the way there, but I felt so accomplished when I arrived home.

Got home and had a banana pancake with a slice of bacon, which leads me onto my next change this week; my diet. I’ve decided to stay relatively low-carb this week, but not quite as strict as previously. I’m allowing myself carbs in the form of a banana and a tablespoon or so of oats after training, and some more carby fruits and vegetables. I think it will probably marginally hinder my ability to maintain my weight, though I am hovering around 53kg at the moment so I’m not too far off the mark. More than anything I think I need a week of change for sanity’s sake before I had back to my diet of protein, green veg and more green veg!

A little insight into my diet for this week:

Breakfast: Salmon with fried broccoli

Meal 1: 
Chicken, bacon, asparagus, tomato, LF mozzarella and mixed rocket salad

Snack: LF cottage cheese, casein and peanut butter mix with some strawberrys

Meal 2: Garlic mushrooms and aubergine with a steak

Meal 3: (Post-training) Banana pancake with a slice of bacon

(Snack: handful of nuts or LF greek yoghurt)

Eating strawberries for the first time in months was an absolute delight, and I am thoroughly enjoying the variety of colours I’ve had on my plate this last week! I plan to continue this until Tuesday, assess my weight and then decide whether or not to go back to keto. If I stay consistent I might not need to go back to keto so early, but with a few social occasions planned (and a very lovely lunch out today) this may be a challenge. This week is for recovery, and part of this is definitely being a little more lenient with my diet and allowing myself to enjoy food and social occasions. Had a little more indulgence this evening, baked with my housemate this great recipe from Paleomg for her sweet potato brownies. Truly delicious and taste almost like the real thing, and not too naughty either! I think this week of switch-up will do me good!

 

GBPF Welsh Championships

The run up to the Welsh champs was a lot more positive than previous competitions this month; more certainty of making weight, more kit-lifting preparation and more people coming to the competition for support.
Spent the Saturday morning and early afternoon packing and preparing food, in particular a rather delightful lemon and raspberry cheesecake ready for consumption right after my last deadlift. It was quite tough preparing and baking the whole thing without tasting any of it; weighing in at 51.7kg that morning I wasn’t taking any chances.

Left Bournemouth around 4pm, arriving in Wales about 3 hours later to an amazing choice of food laid out by our teammate’s mother who we were staying with. I weighed myself to ascertain whether or not I could eat, at 52.1kg I figured I could indulge just a little. She’s well versed with the powerlifting world, so we were spoiled with a choice of roast chickens, tikka chicken breast, an amazing green salad, fennel cauliflower, sweet potatoes and roast mixed vegetables. To play it safe I had some salad, cauliflower and chicken, but as there was so much left over we all packed ourselves a little something extra for competition day. Such a delightful dinner!

Didn’t sleep as well as I normally do, but that’s to be expected before a competition. I got about 7 hours on and off, which I’ve found to be just the right amount. Enough to function properly, but with a little lack of sleep stress to fuel the day of lifting. Weighed myself at 51.4kg but again I wasn’t taking any chances so only had a few sips of water and a couple of nuts to tide me over until weigh-in.
Weighed in at 9am on the dot, desperate for some food. Didn’t even need to strip down, I was 51.8kg with my shorts and t-shirt on, so I was right into my class. Rehydrated with a carton of coconut water and some water, and ate a banana pancake slowly so as not to shock my body. Then for a nice sit down for a while until warm up for squats.

It was nice to have my coach, a few other Bournemouth Barbell lifters and a non-competitor in the warm up room with me for support and help. Warmed up to 70kg as per usual, then put my suit on. With my weight loss it was a lot looser than it had been earlier in the week, but knew my wraps would help me out. Warmed up to 110kg just slightly above depth, but felt good about my opener of 112.5kg, which I got with ease. For my second lift of 117.5kg we wrapped a little too soon, and then there was some confusion as to whether  I would need 117.5 or 118 to set a British standard so I was left standing around for longer than is comfortable in tight wraps, but then completed my lift and got it with ease though I rounded my back a little on the way up. Went to 122.5 kg for my third lift but unfortunately missed it narrowly on depth. I didn’t mind too much as I had got my record, so definitely a minimum target for my next competition.

Bench warm up was a little disheartening, with different equipment from what we were used to it was difficult to feel comfortable, especially with the added stress of a bench shirt, but we managed. I had planned to open at 62.5kg, but it felt a bit like a bad shirt day so went down to 60kg as it wasn’t going to influence my second lift and thought it best to make it a sure lift. So I got my opener of 60kg with ease, then 65kg for a British record. At first the spotters unloaded it a little high and pulled my out of shape slightly. I swore, which I will not be doing again as it could get me a failed lift, and got them to rerack so I could shape up again. Managed the lift with ease, so went to 70kg but unfortunately failed it as it descended ever so slightly on the way up. I got it up though so again another minimum aim for next competition.

Warm up for deadlift was a little tough as well, slightly fatter bars and a slightly slippy floor made things difficult, but again we managed. Warmed up to 100kg then tried my opener of 105kg, as I was considering moving it up to 107.5kg. It felt a little tough so stuck with 105kg, which I got with ease on the platform. Next lift was 110kg which was tough but not too difficult. Decided with my coach to attempt 117.5kg for my third lift, to aim for a 300kg total. There was nothing to lose as I was nowhere near a deadlift or total record, so I tried it and got it off the floor easily but had a little trouble locking out so unfortunately missed it.

I will post a video of my failed lifts at a later date, as they were all near misses I still feel like I have achieved them. While the referee’s decision is what counts in the end, with near misses it’s encouraging to know I could probably get them in future competitions.

It was a truly exhausting day, with all flights competing successively there was at least an hour between each lift. I even had to have a coffee before my deadlifts! It was great to have fellow Bournemouth Barbell lifters there to support and encourage each other, though it did mean I didn’t really speak to many of the other lifters. I especially extend my thanks to my coach as it was great to have his wisdom and support throughout the day. Finished up with a 292.5kg total, just a little way off my target of 300kg. Came first in my weight class, so my competitions this month have gone 3,2,1!

Pretty soon after finishing I tucked into my cheesecake, and shared it around. It was honestly one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten, and I was so proud that I made it. It was nice to indulge as I am back to maintaining weight today for another competition in a few weeks.

Overall it was a great day, well organised with lots of impressive lifters, fantastic spotters, loaders and referees and a supportive crowd. It went a lot better for me than the South West competition, as I managed more of my squats, stayed relatively calm and I’m absolutely delighted that I managed to set some British records. I’m definitely hoping to break my own records at another competition sometime this year. Woke up with a fresh sense of motivation and determination this morning, but unfortunately no energy to go with it. We got back about midnight last night, and I’ve spent much of today horizontal as a consequence.  With a little more experience in kit lifting, I feel I can only go up from here, and I’m very much looking forward to the next few months of lifting and competition.

Tough

Although training this week has just been competition prep, which is normally not too taxing, it has been really tough for a number of reasons.

Monday’s bench session was frustrating as while I’d had a really good bench session on Friday and even hit some PB’s, it just wasn’t working for me. I was struggling with weights around 60kg which I’m looking to open with. Apparently when lifting off my chest I was pushing slightly away from me, making the lift harder. Frustratingly I couldn’t feel what I was doing wrong, so didn’t know what to do to rectify it. The session left me feeling frustrated and under-prepared but I was happy with the knowledge that I still had Wednesday’s session to sort things.

Tuesday’s session was final squat preparation. The fact that I’d recently washed my suit in a lot of sugar made it a lot harder to get down to depth than it had ever been before. I struggled with having the straps down, due to the tightness of the suit, so I had to put straps up before I normally would. I was seeing stars at mid-depth, and it felt like I was right down deep. Finally managed to get to depth with 115kg, it felt like I was literally folding myself in half to get down, but I got there. Coach was being very tough on me and not taking any excuses I had as to why I wasn’t getting to depth. It was a difficult session but I know it was for my own good. Worked up to 125kg and decided on 112.5kg as my opener, just to make sure I can hit depth. Got some pretty hefty bruises from the session, the picture below just doesn’t do them justice. Ended up with some speckled bruising up my face from the pressure too, which was new!

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With my squat suit being that tight, and having just washed it again, I’m slightly concerned how it will work for deadlift on the weekend, but we shall have to see.

Yesterday’s bench session went a lot better, managing to get up to 67.5kg with ease and deciding on my opener of 62.5kg. Attempted 72.5kg again, didn’t quite get it but it’s definitely an option for competition. Though I need to hit 65kg for a British standard first! It was a bit strange just doing 4 lifts or so and heading home, but I was happy to as I’d been at work all day and just wanted a cup of tea and the sofa! Actually savoured a day off today rather than itching to get out and do something, Kit lifting can be brutal…

Bodyweight is fluctuating around 52.6kg at the moment, hoping I’ll be able to drop in during the next few days. Testing my true morning weight again tomorrow morning, so no food or drink for me at the moment. Not too bothered though as I’ll be going to bed pretty soon, getting up early for a work training day tomorrow. I’m hoping to have time to post another recipe tomorrow, watch this space!