Saturday, 5 March 2016

A week in the life of a full-time athlete...

This week I’ve had the week off work and not had a great deal planned; I just had some annual leave to use up before the end of the financial year and so thought I’d take a full week to have some ‘me-time’. Onto the last couple of days now and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having some downtime to just relax, refresh and rejuvenate before it’s back to the grind on Monday.
 
It’s been an insightful week for me as normally my life is 100mph and so fitting in training and managing a strict diet has sometimes been challenging. My PT said to me a few weeks ago that I would probably find it harder than some to diet and train on such an intense level as my job is very demanding and high-pressured. Whereas a lot of people following such a strict lifestyle prepping for competitions or photo shoots are often in the industry themselves or have a job which doesn’t demand that much of them so they can fully dedicate themselves to training and dieting.
 
I didn’t quite comprehend how much of an impact a stressful job can have on you in the balance of everything until this week and having had the week off and being able to focus fully on my health and fitness lifestyle I’ve realised how much of a difference it makes. My PT was telling me yesterday that if you’ve got a job where you have to use your brain a lot that it can burn up to 600 calories per day. So that’s a lot of demand on your body when you’re already training a lot as well.
 
I’ve loved it this week being a ‘full-time athlete’ as my PT has joked with me; a lady of leisure with the biggest thing to worry about being what gym outfits I’ll wear for my two training sessions per day. So I’ve documented my week and how I’ve felt each day:
 
Monday 29 February
 
After a lovely relaxing weekend in the Yorkshire Dales with plenty of walking it was an early night on Sunday for me and a rare lie-in on Monday morning, waking up at 9am. I can’t remember the last time I woke up at 9am as with me getting up so early on weekdays even when it gets to the weekend my body clock often kicks in and still wakes me up at some insane hour. So it was fasted cardio for me; this time outdoors which was so refreshing. As I have to do fasted cardio before work normally; it’s too dark for me to go outside on my own so I have to go to the gym to do it. On Monday it was nice to get up and get into the park for a quick 20 minute jog before nipping to collect my Asda order and then onto the gym for 11am for my PT session.
 
With no battles for equipment at that time we were able to use what we wanted, when we wanted and I was put through a gruelling leg session; finishing up with 100 bum-bridges with a resistance band. What a killer. Finished up with some post-weights cardio and then it was home for some freshly cooked lunch. I had a sports massage booked for 5pm which I try and have once a month to prevent injury and help my muscles recover and I felt like a new woman after a 45 minute intense rub down on my traps, hamstrings and lower back.
 
Legs and booty are growing...
 
Tuesday 1 March
 
March already – where is this year going?
 
Another day of fasted cardio. On Tuesday’s I do 30 minute steady-state so after waking up naturally at 7am I went with my mum on a power-walk around the local lake at around 9am. A chance for us to catch up on some gossip and get our morning exercise in. I then nipped home for a bit of brekkie and then it was onto the gym once again. Tuesday is arms and abs followed by some cardio and it was so nice to once again have the place pretty much to myself and take my time with my workout.
 
Wednesday 2 March
 
I was allowed back to Bootcamp this week after a couple of week’s rest from it as it was becoming a bit too intense on my nervous system with a lot of other heavy training sessions and reduced calories. But with a promise for a proper recovery session afterwards and having a steady week; I managed to get the green light from my PT. So happily (yes I’m crazy) I set my alarm for 6am and at 06:45 I was doing 10 sets of 10 sprints to ‘warm up’. This was followed by a tough circuit session and then squats to finish.
 
For the first time in months I didn’t have to rush off to work afterwards so I was able to go into the hydropool, recover in the ice bath, relax in the sauna and give my body some much needed TLC for a couple of hours. I very much was a lady of leisure on Wednesday as I nipped home for some breakfast before going to the beauty salon for my nails and eyebrows doing and then heading to the shops for the afternoon. I could get used to this!!
 
Thursday 3 March
 
8am get up today and my one day break from fasted cardio so it was healthy breakfast and cuppa to start the day with my feet up on the sofa whilst I watched the morning news and gossip shows. I normally hate daytime TV but I watched it just because I could and wondered what it must be like to be able to do this every day – watching them cook up some food on ‘This Morning’ and talk about some absolutely pointless rubbish. I’m sure the novelty probably wears off after a week or so. I nipped into town on Thursday morning for a couple of bits before heading to the gym for my midday PT session. Chest and back is what we train on Thursday so another tough session and 20 minutes of cardio to finish off.
 
 
Oh hey muscles...
 
Quick call home for some freshly prepared lunch consisting of chicken and broccoli (of course!) and then I went to meet a friend for coffee at one of the local hotels. It felt so nice to not always be racing against time and living life with a military-style schedule in order to make sure I don’t forget anything I’m supposed to be doing.
 
Friday 4 March
 
Fasted cardio day so after an 8am wake up I headed to the gym. There was no chance of this one being outdoors after the snow had graced us with its presence over Thursday evening making it like an ice-rink outside so it was up to Total Fitness for 30 minutes steady state cardio. It’s so much nicer in the gym during the day when it’s quieter and a more chilled out atmosphere. I didn’t have to do a weights session yesterday so the rest of my day wasn’t too taxing other than helping my mum move some boxes in the new house (so it did end up being a bit of a weights session after all) and then it was my cheat night last night.
 
After being allowed a cheat night for the last couple of weeks this week it was only a partial cheat night. My body just isn’t dealing with ‘proper’ cheats such as takeaways that well with the rest of my diet being so clean. Over the last two weeks when I’ve had my cheat I’ve been in so much pain afterwards and my stomach has felt so bloated and it’s put me in a full-on food coma for hours and hours afterwards. So me and my PT agreed to swap it for something out of my Lean in 15 recipe book so that it allows me to have something a bit different to my normal diet but it’s not too greasy for my body to digest. Last night I made beef burger and chips and it was so yummy. Finished off nicely with a dessert (this one was naughty…but so nice) and my body felt much better after that.
 
Lean in 15 is my second bible right now
 
Onto the weekend and it’s business as usual with a high intensity workout on Saturday morning to burn some fat from the cheat meal and tomorrow will be my rest day.
 
I’ve spent an hour or two today doing some food prep for when I’m back at work on Monday to make my life easier and so I can just grab my meals out of the fridge which makes such a big difference rather than cooking every single night for the next day. I have very much enjoyed this week being able to eat freshly cooked food though. It tastes so much better when it’s fresh out of the pan rather than cold or warmed up in the microwave but needs must. And it’s been so nice to eat when I want to and when my body needs it rather than rushing down my lunch in between meetings and grabbing my next snack on the go.
 
My body has felt much more rested and relaxed too and I’ve been able to recover so much quicker from my workouts. Getting adequate sleep every night and waking up when my body is ready to rather than with the 05:30 alarm. Being able to have a lie down on the sofa on an afternoon if my body is tired and having that time for me to just relax and chill out has made such a big difference.
 
Game face on...time to train!!
 
 Unfortunately that’s not real-life for the majority of us though and to be honest I’m not sure I’d want it to be. Don’t get me wrong it’s been lovely to have this week like this as a break from my normal lifestyle and I’m sure if this was my lifestyle permanently as a ‘full-time athlete’ I’d also have other things on during the week which I’d have to do. But if it was a permanent thing for me I think I’d miss having to use my brain. I’m always thinking when I’m at work; planning things, writing reports, coming up with ideas, contributing to meetings, analysing information, managing staff, responding to requests, fact-finding, meeting patients and families, speaking to different staff every day and it’s made me realise how much I enjoy that and how much I enjoy having the contrast in my life.
 
At work I can be Rebecca Mallinder; Head of Investigations & Learning where I have responsibility and pressure and stuff that needs my attention every single day. And when I leave the office and get to the gym I can be Rebecca Mallinder; gym-bunny, bodybuilder, whatever you want to call it but that’s my escape. It’s my couple of hours a day where I don’t have to have all that responsibility on me and I can just be who I am as a person. And I like that.
 
As with everything I do in my life I always like to learn something and take away something from every experience and from this week there’s a few things I’m going to try and build into my lifestyle going forward. At the start of the week I made a conscious effort to find a book I liked the look of and to make a start on reading it. I love reading but I never make time to do this so it’s one thing I wanted to do with my week off. I haven’t read as much as I hoped but I’ve left my Kindle on my bedside table so I can make sure I try and have a bit of time each night to switch off and read something. Even if it’s only 10 minutes. And I’m going to make sure my sleep routine is good. I am normally pretty good anyway at going to bed at a reasonable hour but I want to make sure I get at least 7 hours sleep per night so that means lights out by 10:30 latest each night. And whilst I do always do some food prep this has dropped off a little bit of late and I want to make more of an effort to do this each weekend to make my weeks that bit easier. It only takes an hour or so each weekend but it makes such a difference to your week life when you don’t have to start weighing out food and cooking things every night after work and the gym.
 
Meal prep for the next few days
 
It’s crossed my mind a lot over the last 12 months whether I’d want a career in health and fitness as that’s where my true passion lies. But my worry with that has always been that I’d kill my passion for it if I did it day-in-day-out. After having this week just living and breathing health and fitness I’m not sure it would kill my passion as I don’t think I could ever get bored of it but it’s made me have more of an appreciation than what I might have had before for having such a contrast in my life with my work-life and my home-life (I’m going to write another post in the coming weeks about how I achieve a healthy work-life balance). So for now I’ll stick with leading my double-life…NHS professional by day…bodybuilder by night haha.
 
My happy place!
 
Thanks for reading guys…hope you’re all having great weekends!!

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