Lately my mailbox has been bombarded withy emails. To be fair the majority have been food related but also one set of emails kept tempting me. A challenge. No ordinary challenge a challenge which kept enticing me in a weird pleasure/pain kind of way. I can’t quite describe how or why but the email resonated with me and with barely any thought attached to it I found myself signing up to a Fat to Fit challenge at Golds Gym.  Not only did I sign up for the challenge, but the membership rate was so good I actually signed up for an 18 month membership too.

This time last year I was loving my training at MMA, but this time I wanted a new challenge, a new place to train and the combination of a really large amount of classes in both mixed and ladies only gyms, the fantastic variety of exercise equipment, and the friendly, inspiring yet fierce when they need to be trainers, plus a really nice vibe meant that Golds was for me.

So what’s he challenge about ?? Essentially members are challenged over a two month period to lose fat, gain muscle and get fitter. At the end of the challenge the top 30 people who have made the biggest changes will compete in a circuit challenge for a grand prize of 50,000 AED. It’s gotta be worth trying for right?

In addition to the gym challenge I have also been researching Intermittent Fasting – you can read more about that here  on the LeanGains site.  Since I eat out a lot for food reviews etc I decided to do the 16/8 or sometimes the 18/6 combination. Essentially this means that I fast (nothing but water and black coffee) for 16 or 18 hours per day.  It’s not as bad as it seems since 8 hours of the 16 or 18 are sleep. I then eat a few meals during a 6 or 8 hour period. In practice this means that if I’m eating out in the evening I have my first meal of the day about 3 or 4 pm and my last meal finished by 11.00 pm – 12 midnight. If I’m not eating out I finish by 10 pm.   If I’m having lunch out then my first meal will be about one ish and again I will have my last meal before 9pm.

When I eat I try to mainly have protein (chicken, steak or fish) with salad or vegetables, with lovely healthy salad dressings made from oils and flavoured vinegars. If I’m eating out on a preview menu then I have what is served along with the odd glass of wine or cocktail. If I can choose then I chose healthy options but allow myself a small amount of pudding if I fancy it.

I train on an empty stomach and feel great on it, since the body has plenty of fat as fuel to burn (the joys of being overweight sigh!).   I follow my training with a high protein low carb shake and am so pleased to have finally found a shake that tastes good after far too may experiments with vile tasting ones (it’s called Dymatize Elite Whey Chocolate – 200AED from Life Pharmacy). I also take 4 BCAA tablets prior to training.

To inspire me more, I’ve invested in a JawboneUP which is tracking my daily calories burned, steps taken, quality of sleep etc and I will also start logging my food intake too.  This coupled with my PolarFT4 Heart rate monitor are giving me some useful information in terms of the quality and quantify of my exercise and general quest to get moving which is difficult when I spent a lot of my time sat in front of a laptop (as many of us do).  PS, if you are training in a Golds Gym next to a purple faced lady wearing lots of gadgets on her arm it could be me …..

This coupled with a Body Composition analysis done by Golds at the start, middle and end of the challenge and my personal tracking on my scales at home should keep me on track and motivated.

It’s early days, but so far I’m feeling good. I have way more energy then I did when I wasn’t fasting and even if I don’t come in the top 30 I am taking part in my own personal fat to fit challenge and working my way back into my size 12 sexy little black dress which is hanging on my mirror as inspiration.

More progress to follow.

PS – if you are wondering why I gained weight after getting so fit and trim last year I will share a little with you, it’s complicated and personal and much of it is in my head and I don’t want to go into details, but a separation early this year, a surgery, a few illness and general lack of mojo meant that I retreated to a comfortable place, a place where I didn’t train, didn’t get out and about much and where frankly I became a couch potato.  I ate the wrong things, I didn’t exercise and I became a bit of a social recluse.

It’s not a place I want to go to often, but I think that every now and again the mind and the body do what they need to do to allow you to take time out, reflect and then move onwards.  I’m not happy to have lost my fitness and I’m particularly unhappy to have gained weight, BUT I’m not going to beat myself up about it – I’m just going to take positive action and get back on track.  And perhaps that’s why the email resonated from me, it came at the right time, when I was ready to make the positive changes I needed to – to get fitter not fatter, to get leaner and stronger for the next stage of my life – after all – no pain no gain right ??

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