Happy Sunday, everybody! This evening’s post has been dedicated to exploring a phrase I hear and see frequently used across different forms of media: abs are made in the kitchen. The big question is, well, are they? The answer is yes. Yes, they absolutely are, and I write from personal experience.
I have never really been overweight, but have always lacked that desirable definition around my stomach. Abs like slabs, that’s what I wanted, that was my (recurring) dream. Now, we all know the struggles of university life, you’re out boozing at least twice a week and, more often than not, stumbling out of the cloob and into the closest kebab shop for cheesy chips. And even when you vow that this is a new you, no more buying food after nights out, drunk you decides otherwise, and orders a burger, chips and a large Diet Coke, because, you know, you don’t want to get fat. Ultimately, for us students, the world is not on our side; you make your healthy lunch before going to the library, you’ve forgotten your fork, so go to the coffee shop to get one and BAM!, sandwiches, baguettes, crisps and sweets, as far as the eye can see. No wonder it is so hard to get abs, when there are so many temptations left right and centre.
Throughout my years at uni, I have been a regular gym goer and sports player. Yet there was never even a hint of ab definition. However, during this past year, my placement year, I have been living at home and finding it much easier to maintain a healthy diet and still indulge when I want (which isn’t often, otherwise it wouldn’t be called indulging, would it?). I eat a lot of meat and vegetables, and healthy food in general, but I also treat myself to the odd Krispy Kreme doughnut on special occasions. Such as the weekend. As long as you keep it healthy during the week and don’t eat crap everyday, you should be good to go. If you’re eating Kettle Chips for lunch and a cookie for dessert every evening (‘just the one’, said no one ever), and THEN going for pizza on Saturday before Sunday’s fry-up to cure your hangover, not forgetting the few glasses of wine and pints of beer along the way, then NO SHIT SHERLOCK, that is probably why you’re still more flab than fab ab. Being overly strict is not necessary, it’s just important to stay disciplined. If you are gymming most days, then eating a slice of bread here and there won’t make much of a difference; my sound advice would be to indulge when needed (notice the word needed, not wanted); eat three big healthy meals every day, and gym 4/5 times a week. If you follow this simple formula, it doesn’t matter so much if you eat some crap along the way.
Here are my top tips for getting abs:
1. Avocado should be your best friend.
Avocado is very nutritious and a source of ‘healthy fats’. I have a nut allergy so I can’t be eating cashews and shit otherwise my stomach swells and I look like a ballon. Not exactly helpful on the quest for defined abs. So avocado is something I like to eat on a regular basis as it contains a lot of fibre, both insoluble and soluble, which is good for your digestion and slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, keeping you full for longer. Avocados are also high in oleic acid. Long story short, oleochemicals acid activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. So that green, smushy, annoying fruit (yes it is a fruit) is actually doing me a lot of favours and stopping me grabbing a packet of Marylands on my lunch break. Try having this with your meat at lunch or with egg in the morning. Added bonus, avocado is good for your skin as it has a lot of folic acid, vitamins and antioxidants. Like mother used to say, eat your greens!
2. If you go to the gym, go hard or go home.
Right, I am a girl, so I know the tendencies of the classic girly gym routine. If you run on the treadmill half heartedly for 10 minutes, and then saunter over to the weight machines, do 2 sets of 10 reps on 5kg not really knowing what you’re doing, then you may as well not have gone. I know this, because that is exactly what I used to do, and I ended up leaving the gym realising I’d done f*ck all and wasted 40 mins scrolling through my Instagram.
What I have found to really help me this year is planning exactly what I am going to do in the gym before I go, so that I’m not fannying about when I get there trying to remember different exercises. Plan your gym session beforehand so you know exactly what you are doing and can work hard for a full hour. You are better off doing this 3/4 times a week than going every day for half an hour checking out the fit boys bench pressing. I know the weights section can be really intimidating for some people (mostly girls!), especially if you don’t know exactly what you are doing, but I say go for it. That way, you can even ask the fit boy you’ve been checking out how to do a bench press.
So warm up, stretch, and do some damn weights!
3. Do not shop when you’re hungry, I repeat, Do not shop when you’re hungry.
So this is a major mistake I have made for years, and I am sure you can relate: when you shop when you are hungry, you end up buying stuff that is delicious but not healthy. You go out with the best intentions and the healthiest list, kale, chicken breasts, quinoa and you come back with chips, dip and a bottle of wine. I would recommend doing an online shop, so that you can look up some nice healthy recipes either online or from a cookbook as you shop. Of course you need some naughtiness in your life, so by all means buy some minstrels for the weekend, but do not do a food shop when you haven’t eaten and craving some double chocolate fudge brownies.
If you are on a tight budget, healthy is do-able. Get frozen veg, frozen meat and lots of eggs. I don’t go so strict that I can’t have sauces and garnish (what is life without garnish). Yes I eat ketchup and mayo and put dressings on my salad because who the hell wants to eat curly kale with avocado dry…. it’s just boring.
4. Try and stay off the booze..
I have never really been a boozie Suzie, but a night out with the netball girls at uni is not something you do sober. Cameo Wednesday, please, it would be rude not to drink. But it wasn’t doing me any favours. As I’ve said, it’s not just the drink, it’s the inevitable drunk food that is the aftermath of a night out. Getting drunk and socialising go hand in hand, however, alcohol does not promote abs like slabs. Beer, lager, cider and wine are very fattening and sometimes have up to 250 calories which is the same as a small chocolate bar. Alcohol is also scientifically proven to increase your appetite so overall not too great.
Lads, getting crunk is worse for you as you tend to drink more, predominantly beer, so you could actually end up drinking your whole day’s worth of calorie intake (2,500) in one night. And thats without the doner kebab on the way home.
Basically, don’t drink. If you can. Otherwise, just try and cut back. I can count on one hand how many times I drunk alcohol whilst I was living abroad for 9 months and I felt so much better. Fun fact: to burn off an 180 calories pint of lager, the average man would have to run for 13 minutes.
5. Work your abs most gym sessions.
For definition, your ab muscles need to be worked hard and often. Always push yourself to your limit to the last rep. I have veered away from the standard sit ups, because although of course they are helpful they are generic and only work the same muscles. I tend to use Instagram to find inspiration for alternative ab workouts and a variation of exercises to work the different abdominal muscles. Doing 20 sit ups at the gym on Monday and Friday, quite frankly, gets boring. To be completely honest, I am not an ab expert but from my own experience, variation is key. Try doing a circuit of 8 ab exercises, 3/4 sets. I have posted a few of my favourite ab exercises on instagram however, I will post some more! If you wake up in the morning, and your abs don’t ache like hell, either you didn’t push yourself hard enough or your muscles are already pretty strong, you absolute lad.
I do like working out alone, but I find training with a gym buddy really helps me work harder. Not only does it prevent me from slacking, but it’s always good to have some encouragement to finish my last set. And also I make it a secret competition between me and them. One that I have to win.
Well, hello there, it’s time for my next blog post already! Yes, I do have a life, but this next topic is one that a lot of girls will appreciate. Boys as well, probably. I only say girls because it was a lengthy discussion between myself and some girlfriends on the subject that became the inspiration for this third chapter; finding the right foundation. I mean, you wander into a shop, and people come at you from every way trying to sell you their brand. From Estée Lauder to Armani, Benefit to Chanel, it’s always such a drama, and I for one almost always regret entering into it. So how are you supposed to find the right one?
That’s what I’m here for. I have taken the time to review and recommend all the different foundations I have tried, to save you the hassle. I’ve always been interested in makeup and skincare, and I used to work on an Estée Lauder counter, which allowed me to learn through firsthand experience what to look for in a foundation. Hopefully, this chapter will be of some help for those who have experienced the very real struggle that is keeping their face from sliding off in the club. However, before I do this, I’m just going to list a few things to consider when buying foundation for yourself. Firstly, and if you haven’t worked this out by the end of this post, I’m not sure if I want you reading them, you need to work out whether your skin is oily, dry, or both. Different products cater for different skin types. Secondly, is your skin tone even? Because if not, again, you will find certain foundations to be more effective than others. My final point, and one which will be important to a lot of readers, is ethics: is your makeup tested on animals? This is definitely something you might want to research before shopping around.
Okay then, let’s start with the infamous Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. This product is used by top celebrity icon Kim Kardashian, and going by how she usually looks, you would think that after whacking this bad boy all over your face (I know how that sounds, Kim K, remember?), you will look fabulous. But what we all need to remember, what we, the masses, do not see, is the entourage that are paid thousands to keep her looking flawless for the split second snap-shots that we do see. Anyway, the application took quite a while and was, frankly, downright frustrating. It kept going streaky on my skin, which meant I had to get the blending sponge out to even it out. This was disappointing as it’s quite expensive. Giorgio’s first outing (yes, we are on a first name basis) was dog walk to test potential sweat resistance. There was none. At all. The foundation had slipped from my T-Zone and my face was so shiny you could have seen your own reflection in it. Once again, how annoying. However, all was not lost. I discovered that when I apply the Luminous Silk over the top of another foundation, it gives a fresh and dewy finish. Great if you’re going for a natural look. Although it didn’t work for my oily skin, I would recommend this product if you have dry skin as it is very hydrating, and does not have a thick consistency.
Now, onto my second review, this time for HELLO FLAWLESS Oxygen Foundation by Benefit. This one is actually really good. it maintains it’s finish over a good few hours, is not completely matte and has a nice, smooth consistency. I was really tanned when I bought this, and, much like all good things that end, my tan faded, so now it is too dark to use as a primary base. But, ever resourceful, I found another use for it: liquid contouring (it works wonders for both). Because the consistency of this product is not that thick, it’s really buildable, which is great if, like me, you don’t like to have full coverage during the day. Although I speak as an oily skin sufferer, I would suggest that those with dry skin sample this foundation. It really is that good.
Thirdly, and this is one of my favorites, is Chanel Perfection Lumiere. Perfection is exactly right, I really love this foundation. It is super silky, it sort of reminds me of a dream of me being flawless and fleeky… This is my number one, particularly for day wear because it is complimented by the natural light. It also blends really well and covers any uneven skin tone flawlessly. However, much as I love it, this foundation does have a slight drawback. It stays on for about 5 hours, which is fine, but I’ve noticed that if it’s a hot day, or I’m in the clurbbb, it has a tendency to go oily. It doesn’t come completely off, but I do need a touch up with the old powder puff. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I have oily skin, so I do believe this will work well for people with normal skin or dry skin. The consistency is thick and really creamy, which is quite good even if you don’t like wearing heavy foundation, because just a little bit works well too. AND that way it lasts longer.
Finally, here it is, the creme de la creme of foundations. I really have saved the best ’til last. It is the one and only… Estée… and by Estée, I mean my former employer, Estée Lauder.
If you don’t have Double Wear in your makeup bag, you’ve f*cked up. It is a dream. Double Wear has a thicker consistency than Giorgio and Benefit, plus you get a lot in the bottle so it will last longer. This is always a base for my night-out makeup, because it ain’t goin’ nowhere. It stays on so well, and that is a dream for oily skin. If you are searching for full coverage that lasts the whole night, this is your new best friend. Double Wear Light is more hydrating, as it is designed for dry skin, and is probably just as amazing as plain old Double Wear. This foundation blends very nicely, and comes in so many shades that you will find your perfect match. If you have a mixed background such as my South African-Japanese-Jamaican self, and struggle to find the right colour, don’t even doubt that Estée has enough shades to cater for every gal out there. And, the cherry on top, Estée Lauder products are completely ethical.
I have tried highstreet brands such as Rimmel, and I went through a Dream Matte Mousse stage as well (who didn’t, I think is the question on everybody’s lips) and they really don’t compare. It was so long ago I barely remember, but I did think that Dream Matte Mousse would break me out as it is not particularly hydrating, but it doesn’t as long as you take it off properly, so if you’re on a budget, that’s the one to try.
A brief conclusion, then. For oily skin I would highly recommend Chanel and Estee Lauder. For normal/dry skin, Benefit Oxygen, Giorgio Armani or Chanel. And there it is.
Chia Seeds are considered by experts a super seed that you certainly shouldn’t be living without; and, from experience, I can absolutely say that I agree. These small, almost tasteless granules can be added to lots of meals, and I personally prefer them to alternatives such as flax seeds, which have to be ground before they are eaten in order for the nutrients to be released. Chia seeds can be eaten whole. Easy breezy.
Chia Seeds are full of omega-3, fibre and calcium, and, considering their size, provide a significant amount of protein in any diet. Ranked one of the TOP plant-based sources for protein, this power food is a perfect addition for all you vegans and vegetarians struggling to get enough!
It doesn’t stop there, though. These small seeds have a wide range of health AND beauty benefits; energy levels increase due to the high fibre content, something which also contributes to muscle gain and promotes fat loss. They do WONDERS for the skin (check out my last blog post on Liz Earle skin products – you’ll be glowing in no time!). Last but not least, omega-3 has been known to improve general brain functions, which can only mean one thing: less work, more play, same (great) results.
Chia seeds are so easy to work with. They come in a packet ready for you to throw into anything, breakfast, lunch or dinner. No prep, no hassle, nothing. Nada. Now, I usually only eat seeds on their own, such as sunflower or pumpkin, because I don’t like the crunch with other food. Chia seeds, however, you can really eat with anything. Sprinkle onto your porridge, mix into your pancakes, even scramble them into your eggs! You won’t notice a difference in taste, but you will notice a difference in you!
So my first blog post, all very exciting! To start off this exciting new chapter of blog writing, I thought I’d talk about something I know and love so much – Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare . Being a sufferer of oily skin especially around the t-zone and constantly battling with those killer under the skin spots, I’ve made it my mission for years to find the perfect skin care products to help sort these trouble areas – after testing and trying out all different kinds of products, I eventually stumbled across Liz Earle (thank god!) and have continued using her products for some time now.
Along with finding this life changing skincare brand, I found myself especially in love with her ‘Cleanse and Polish’ – a seriously amazing product that everybody should buy. After purchasing this, I wanted to ensure I was getting the best possible results from it – this is exactly what I am so happy to be passing over to you.
So firstly, apply the Cleanse and Polish at the end of the day over dry skin honestly, it smells lush and it’s a really nice consistency. I sometimes leave it on for a couple of minutes before and then I massage it into my face in circular motions to rub my face makeup off. The package comes with a white muslin cloth (mine was gross as I’ve used it so much so it’s not in the picture..) which you then wet and ‘polish’ your skin. Muslin cloths can become really dirty so it’s best to wash them on a high temperature regularly and if you can, I’d definitely recommend buying an extra one! Alternate the cloths so you avoid putting any extra dirt back onto your face.
I will be honest, if you go heavy with the mascara, you will still have panda eyes it’s not a miracle worker. However, your skin will be squeaky clean. After around 4 months of using it, I saw a massive difference as the little under the skin spots were disappearing and I haven’t seen them since!
I have also seen other reviews of this product from people with sensitive skin and people who suffer from acne and this product seems to work wonders on these skin types too. It’s definitely worth your money and even better it’s affordable.
Liz Earle uses natural products with an infusion of rosemary, camomile and Eucalyptus oil so as you can imagine, it’s really soothing on the skin.
You can buy this product on its own; however I seriously recommend combining it with Liz Earle’s skin tonic and of course the moisturiser. The tonic is the perfect product to get rid of my panda eyes and to sweep over my entire face, right before applying the skin repair moisturiser, which is a great night cream to invest in.
Winner, winner chicken dinner, that’s all I can say! I do this skin routine maybe, twice a week as I already have oily skin and this product is really nourishing. However, if you have dry skin, you could probably use this product most days.
So that is my review of Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish – if you have any questions please comment or email me.