Getting in Shape for 2014

Sweaty Betty Reversible Yoga Leggings*
Sweaty Betty Upbeat Padded Bra*
Well this post has been long overdue. About a year ago I wrote a similar post to this one, talking about ways in which I lost cellulite on my legs over the last few years by eating healthy, going to the gym and by using a number of bath and body treats. It is still one of my most read posts and I got so much brilliant feedback, I have always wanted to write a follow up. So finally here we are.

My Fitness History

Since that time, I have continued to exercise and eat healthy somewhat, but perhaps not to the extent I should have done. Especially after my 10 week holiday to America, I found my body wasn’t looking how I wanted it to anymore and I realise I had slacked off too much even before I went away. Keeping up with constant exercise is difficult when you’re so busy, so I did find it hard to keep myself motivated. I reduced gym time down to about once a week and started to indulge in more cakes, milkshakes and brownies and I found myself not caring too much about my body. But as I said, when I came home from America, the dimples in my thighs made me realise it was time to make a change and start getting myself into shape.

Now, I do not need to lose weight by any means. I have always been petite and a size 6 throughout  my life due to my ten years as a ballerina. This has never really changed. Yet, when I eat, it falls onto my thighs and bum. This has meant that I build up cellulite and dimples in my thighs, and my bum has never been as perky as I’d like it to be. So, starting in December, I made a mental note to myself that I needed to make a change and start looking and feeling better about myself.
My Fitness Routine
A turning point for me came when a girl I follow on Instagram mentioned she had been doing the Brazilian Butt Lift workout. It’s something I’d never heard of before but got super intrigued by the fact her body looked amazing. I researched it a bit and found that there is a guy who has a whole DVD on the Brazilian Butt lift workout which sells really well, but that Youtube also throws up a lot of similar exercise routines that you can do at home. These are a few of my favourites from which I have made my own routines:
  1, 2, 3, 4, 5
I figured that I already had a huge mirror in my room and a new set of gym wear, so why not start exercising from the comfort of my bedroom?! It meant I didn’t have to pay for the gym and I never had to have the motivation to leave the house in the dark to get to the gym and back. I could also play my music loud in my room and dance along whenever I felt the urge. So thats what I started to do.
If I wanted to do more cardio, then I would have stayed at the gym or maybe started running locally, but its toning that my brain is set on.
I must say, at this point I have never felt this good about my body and size. Since December, I have tried to workout 3 or 4 times a week for an hour at a time, and this has undoubtedly made a huge change. Keeping your body exercising and moving one day after another in short succession really trains the muscles to start working more and doesn’t allow them enough time to relax back to how they were before. So four nights a week has truly created a turning point.
My Fitness Apparel
I will also point out at this point that buying yourself some amazing gym gear will also really help you to stay motivated. Knowing you have a great kit to put on for your work out, gets you into the fitness zone and out of your comfy sweat pants. Keeping yourself motivated and excited to work out is half of the problem, its all about whats in your mind at the time and that is the hardest thing to combat. So just the small things, like making sure you have a great kit to wear that you feel great in and really enables you to work out effectively, is key to pushing you in the right direction. 
This kit is just perfect for me. Fantastic smooth yoga leggings that are really fitted and hold you in in all of the right places. But it also enhances your figure and accentuates your best elements. These leggings are also double sided and can be turned inside out for either a full leg or just a stripe of the coral grey pattern. As these leggings are so comfortable, flattering and fashionable, I could definitely go out for the day wearing these, whether its for a food shop or a quick whizz around the shops, so they don’t only have to be used for working out. I love wearing leggings for most occasions so these just tick all of the boxes. 
The running crop is also so flattering, fitted, supportive and I just adore coral gymwear. They go perfectly with the leggings and I feel so comfortable wearing it. Both pieces are from Sweaty Betty and I love the fit, colours and mainly how they make me feel about myself when I wear them. You can find the links to both of them here:
My Fitness Exercises
Im going to go through some of the routine that I stick to and show you some of the exercises that really work for me. Please note I am not a fitness instructor or trained for this in any way. This is just what works for me from exercises I picked up throughtout the last few years. You need to make sure you watch your form when you complete each exercise and put the same amount of effort into each stage, or you wont see any results and may end up hurting yourself.

Stretches 

For anyone that doesn’t work out very often, stretching is essential for warming up into exercising. Sitting down on the floor and doing simple leg exercises will get your muscles warmed ready to be stretched. Some exercises I do include sitting with the balls of my feet together and pushing my knees towards the floor, to stretch down the inside leg. Placing your head on your feet will stretch out the muscles in your spine and also your inside leg, but this may take you a while to stretch far enough into. 

Side Stretch 

This is another stretch, placing one leg straight and the other bent inside, stretch over your leg with your arm raised, to feel the stretch in both your inside leg and up your stretched torso.

Floor Legs Lifts
Okay, so these are some of my favourites. On all fours with your back straight and head looking forward, bend one leg up to a 90 degree angle so that your foot is parallel with the ceiling. I like to call this exercise Reaching for the Sky, just because you lift your leg upwars from this position, almost as though you are trying to push the ceiling away with the bottom of your foot. You must keep your mind focused on using only your glutes to do this motion, keeping your back straight and not moving. It should be just your bum that is moving your thigh towards the sky. I do 20 pushes on each leg, twice over. So 40 in total for each leg. Use ankle weights for a much harder exercise 
Reaching For the Sky

Dog Kicks
After the previous move, I will then raise my leg out to the side, again keeping the 90 degree angle, but this time bringing it 90 degrees to your body. You keep your leg bent in the same position, only using your hip as a hinge, moving your leg up and down 20 times. Again, focusing on using your glutes for this and you will feel the burn in both glutes. After doing 20 on each leg, I will get back into the position with one leg raised and straighten it backwards only to pull it back to the bend and repeat. So it looks as though you bend and straighten your leg, forward and back, forward and back – always back into the bent 90 degree position and never putting it down until you have completed 20 pushes back. Always focusing on keeping the leg on the floor upright and your body facing forwards. This can be a difficult one, but again you can feel the burn really well. I call them dog kicks for obvious reasons. 
Bridges

Rolling onto your back with both knees bent, you can push up through your heels to raise your bum to be in line with your body and knees. This is called a bridge. Yet, if you raise one leg and keep it parallel with the angle of your other leg, as you can see below, and then use the lowered leg to push up through your heel to raise your bum into the air, you can get such a strong burn in your working leg glute. You can do 20 bridges with both feet on the floor, but then alternate between the right leg straightened and the left leg straightened, pushing up through the foot that is on the floor, to lift your bum into the air, keeping your body in a straight line. Your hips do not need to go further than this straight line or else you can start to hurt your back. Just focus on getting your hips raised enough to form a straight line between your stomach, hips, knees and toe, as I’ve shown. 20 slow reps on each leg will have you really tired. Use ankle weights for an intense burn. 

Standing Leg Lifts

Again, another favourite as it really works those glutes that can lay dormant. This exercise requires you to stand up straight and to lift one leg back at an angle, using your glute muscles. If you focus on having a bent leg but maintaining your hips facing forwards, pull the leg back using your glutes to as high as you can take it without it hurting your back and until you can feel the side muscle in your bum start to stretch. If you repeat that 20 times forwards and back and then switch legs, you’ll definitely feel it. Do that twice round if you can.
Squats and Lunges

The mac daddy of all glute workouts. I hate it when you ask someone how to work out your behind and they just say ‘Squat.’ There is so much more to it than just squatting, but they actually do really work. In the first picture below I am doing a plie squat, with both legs placed quite wide apart, feet facing outwards. Remember never to let you knees go over your toes, or else this will strain your knees. If you also focus on keeping your back straight and pretend there is a wall right  in front of you and you have to squat down right in front of it without hitting your nose on the wall. This will get you squatting through the correct muscles and keep the right form. Every time you come back up to straight legs, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. So that they go from stretched to squeezed over and over, forming the lift in your muscles. So squat to stretch, stand to squeeze. 

Do as many as you can, maybe 20 without weights. Then if you have some weights, maybe dumbbells or a weight bar, experiment with having them on your shoulders when you squat to make it harder for you to push through your heels to return to standing. That is how you will build your muscles up. I have two 5kg dumbbells which I hold on my shoulders and squat, to add more pressure to the exercise. 

Plie Squat

Regular Squat
Here I am squatting with my legs just over shoulder width apart, toes facing forwards. This will stretch different muscles to those in the Plie squat, so it is worth alternating between the types of squats you use. For something a little harder, trying jumping into the squat from a squat. Bending down into a squat and in an explosive movement, push through the heels into a jump, landing back onto your heels with legs apart ready to bend down into another squat. Try 20 with a rest and another 20, each time really thinking about your form and keeping your mind on the feeling in your glutes. 
Step Back lunge

Lunges are just as important as squats and will again use different muscles to those you may have previously been using. This is a simple step back squat – stepping one leg back, bending the front leg and pushing back up to standing position on the forwards foot – pushing through the heel and glutes. You step back one leg after another, holding for a few seconds and remembering to really push up through the heels and thigh. This will make sure you are using the right muscles to bring you back to standing position. 
Raised Leg Lunge

I dont show it here, but you can also raise your back leg onto a bed or a bench whilst you bend your front leg forward into a squat. You must find the right distance to stand away without your knee bending past your toe or alternatively, being too far away so that it is working the wrong muscle. Stand a comfortable distance forward from the bench and bend down into a lunge with your forward leg, pushing back into standing position through your heel. Make sure that all pressure and weight is on your standing leg and your back leg is merely being held up as a weight for the exercise. If your back leg starts to ache too, you need to work on the position of your forwards foot. 
Side Lunge
I love doing about 40 of these lunges. From standing position, step out to the side and bend the leg you have just moved, into a one legged squat/lunge, foot facing forward. Keeping your outer leg straight, you almost want to focus on having all weight on your lunging leg. Then push back up towards your straight legs foot to a standing position, feeling it in your thighs and glutes. So step out into a lunge and push back up through your heel to standing, coming back up straight in the same place you started. Alternate between legs, doing 10 on each leg twice through. 

Crunches

For me, I am usually only concerned with my stomach and my thighs/glutes. Those have always been my biggest concerns. Every woman has her own goals, but I only work on my stomach, thigh and glute muscles as those are the bits I really want to tone. Therefore, before or after every leg workout, I will fit in about 5-10 minutes of ab workout exercises. My favourite being the good old crunch.

Crunches

Both legs bent like an ordinary sit-up, all you want to do it use your stomach muscles to pull your shoulders off of the ground. Your shoulder blades must leave the ground for this to make any difference. Be sure to not pull on your neck with your hands. Your hands are there for supporting your neck only, not to pull your neck. All of the work is done by your stomach, which is what starts to tone the muscles. I do 50 crunches before moving my knees to one side, with both feet together placed slightly to the opposite side and crunching up through my side muscles. Again about 20 on each side. 
Bicycle Crunches

The same as the crunch, just this time, pulling one knee towards your forehead as you crunch, returning it to a straight raised leg about 10 cm above the floor, returning into the bent position towards your forehead and on the fourth count, returning to the floor as a bent leg. So four positions – 1. Bent to forehead with a crunch, 2. Straight over floor laying head down, 3. Bent to forehead with a crunch, 4. return to bent leg on the floor, laying head down. So in each cycle you crunch twice, each time when you pull your knee in. This will make your ab muscles stretch and release. 
After this you can then try bicycle kicks where the movement is the same as below but the lowered leg is straight, hovering above the floor. Each time your knee comes to your forehead, your opposite elbow touches it. You stay in the crunched position, touching left elbow to right knee and vice versa one after another with no break to put your head down, returning each leg from straight to bent alternatively in a quick movement. Do as many as you can as this can be intense. 

My Fitness Treats and Eats

One day I read a fitness review stating that getting fit and seeing muscle improvements is 70% what you eat and 30% how you exercise. They said that if you want to see you abs, no matter how many crunches you do, they will never show up if your diet isn’t right, and again that hit a chord with me. I realised I couldn’t keep indulging so often and that I did need to start making cut backs to my sugar and fat intake. So I changed my diet ever so slightly.

Without going into ridiculous amounts of detail about my diet plan, generally I have tried to cut back on saturated fats, reduced my carb intake and hugely reduced my sugar intake. So I eat less butter, use less oil, eat less cheese, those sorts of things to reduce the saturated fats I intake. Those are the fats that go straight to your bum and hips and give you cellulite. By cutting them out whilst exercising, you will be burning off the fats you have deposited previously without adding more on top. 

Whilst I still eat carbs, I just have slightly smaller portions of those now and instead have more protein. So I eat more eggs in omelettes for example or within quiche style pies with spinach and small amounts of cheese – a favourite being Jamie Olivers Feta and Spinach Filo Pastry pie. Just follow the recipe adding much more egg, more spinach, less cheese and less oil and it tastes yummy still. You can also cook eggs within avocados under the grill which is super yummy, or poach and boil them and add them to a nicoise salad or half a toasted bagel maybe. I eat more fish, often having cod loin with more vegatables and a small portion of rice or pasta. Overall my diet is lean proteins, high vegetables, low carbs, minimum sugars and thats the way I’m liking it. I also don’t have a lot of juice, carbonated or bad things to drink, generally sticking to a Berocca in the morning for vitamins and drinking water throughout the day. At weekends I might have a bottle of wine or so, but its always as an end of week treat. 
If you’re not overly keen on drinking water out of the tap, you could invest in a Brita filtered flask or jug for your fridge, so that you can feel as though your water is even more fresh and purified. This Brita Fill&Go you can find at John Lewis and lots of other places, but its also perfect for taking to the gym. 
There are so many drinks out there as well, that if you’re looking for something sweeter and not all of them have to be packed full of sugars. These two Beauty Drinks from Beauty’in are filled with vitamins, zinc and collagen and no preservatives. The tangerine flavour tastes similar to orange jelly whilst the cucumber, lemon and aloe vera green flavour, tastes exactly how you would imagine. Like fresh cucumber, if you can imagine drinking that. But they have only 12 calories and promote good brain function and seratonin production, leaving you feeling refreshed and calm. Much better than a can of coke that is for sure. Plus these guys are the official sponsor of LFW this season, so if they’re good enough for Anna Wintour, they’re good enough for me. 

Eating more salads will always help, just spice them up a bit with some healthy additions. Add nuts maybe, perhaps some seeds, pine nuts, chick peas, walnuts, cashews. Add some tasty vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, broad beans, mushrooms, peas. Add some colour with pomegranate seeds or one or two sun blushed tomatoes. Go easy as they’re super oily. If you want to add some cheese, go for cottage cheese as its much lower in fats than other cheeses. And finish with a light dressing or perhaps some white wine or balsamic vinegar lightly. 

Here are a few recent foody shots that might inspire you hopefully:

First theres a chicken salad with spinach and lettuce, butternut squash, cucumber, avocado, seeds and a bit of mozzarella cheese. This is the superfood salad at Pizza Express. Then there was a chickpea, barley, broad bean, seed and brown rice salad I made with a touch of lemon juice and a splash of rape seed oil. Third was a chicken korma curry I made from scratch with coriander, garam masala, tumeric and coconut milk with a touch of cottage cheese on the side. Reduce the milk to be even healthier. Fourth are eggs grilled inside avocados with lean bacon and two pieces of soda bread. Then there is a nicoise salad with pomegranate, tuna in brine, boiled eggs, tomato, avocado, cucumber and rocket leaves. And finally a spinach and rocket salad with tomatoes, olives and mozzarella, yet you could use far less mozzarella and sub with cottage cheese. 

So overall, if you’re after getting yourself in a little better shape, it is all just about being motivated to achieve it. Now I have seen a change in my glutes and thighs, I am more motivated than ever to keep going and get them to Jen Selter sizes. You can laugh, I know that is extremely unachievable for my body type, but its better to have a goal than none at all. 
Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments and I hope I’ve inspired at least one of you to get working for your goals. To keep up with what Im eating and my fitness updates you can also follow me on Instagram @inthefrow. Good luck!

V x

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