Become a product of your own (Fit) environment!

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We have all heard the phrase “you are the product of your own environment”. Unfortunately when I talk to people about it, most interpret it in a bad way, tying this phrase only to a negative situation. What if I told you that not only does this phrase have a huge positive potential but it is literally one of the best tips I could give you when it comes to making some major changes to your fitness, changing the way you live and becoming a lean mean fitness machine! Yes! You heard it right! Let me explain what I mean by it in a few points.

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  1. People you surround yourself with. It’s a hugely important factor, whether you want to admit it or not we are emotional sponges. We will soak up emotions from the people who we have contact with. Positivity/negativity, motivation and drive to go to the gym 5 times a week and train your balls off vs the binge drinking weekend nights followed by movie marathon days spent on the sofa stuffing your face with pizza and kebabs. People that you are surrounded by will have a huge effect on your behaviour and choices. That’s why community based gyms win every time vs big commercial ones. As soon as you join a community based gym (like most cross fit gyms are) with a little effort you form new friendships. This is your chance to form a group of friends who will not only make the process of embarking on your fitness journey a lot easier but also very enjoyable. There is nothing that can beat the feeling of being a part of a tight team working together, supporting and pushing each other to new goals previously thought unattainable. Surround yourself with people who breath positivity and you will see your world change!
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2 . In today’s day and age we are surrounded by free information. It’s almost information overload! At a touch of a button we have access to any library in the world. We choose to use that power to look at memes of cats… So how do we apply this to our environment? Podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs, if you want to make your new environment extra cool. Make “celebrity” coaches and athletes a part of your group! Listen to them every week! Sacrifice one hour every day and watch your favourite athletes, coaches, fitness pros, after all they put the content up because they want to speak to YOU! Not only will you gain some awesome knowledge on how to take better care of your body, you will also further increase your chances of making fitness a big part of your life for good!

3 . Food, it doesn’t matter how hard you train if you still eat the way you ate to make yourself feel miserable! I get it, you like doughnuts, burgers, kebab and pizza. Everyone does! I’m here to tell you, that fortunately you don’t have to go cold turkey and drop all the things you like so much. All we need to do is make sure that those foods are no more than 10% of your weekly food intake. Thanks to the new information you gain access to via step 2, you can learn to track your food intake and with a little help from your coach get a macro split that will support your goals. Once we are logging our food intake we can really stay on top of it and plan our meals in advance. Then we know we can have a bit of cake, the odd meal out or a Chinese. We just need to make sure that our kitchen cupboards aren’t filled with cheap sugary low nutrient foods. Let me ask you this what are the chances of having an “accidental” pack of Doritos if every time you go to the shop you buy a family pack. The same with cake and any other comfort food! So I’m not saying cut it out completely. Rather start getting rid of comfort foods from your kitchen and only keep a very small amount but know exactly when you will eat it and make sure the macros add up at the end of the day!

Hopefully you can see now how small changes to your daily environment can have HUGE effects on YOU, your health and fitness! Trust me when I say no 8 week transformation or a 30 day detox or any other gimmicky sounding scheme will have any noticeable effects compared to you changing your environment step by step and making fitness a priority and a part of your life!

Tomek

THE best Breakfast!

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THE best breakfast!

I often get asked what the best breakfast I could eat is, and the true answer to this question is as always: it depends!

It depends on a lot of things. First of all - Who are you? Are you a 25 year old CrossFit enthusiast with 9% body fat and enough muscle to rip every baby gap t-shirt in your closet just by showing the double bicep pose? A 34 year old full time mum who can just barely finish a meal or sleep for more than 3 hours at a time and goes to 3 circuit classes a week? Or a 40 year old office clerk who goes to the gym to meet up with the slightly more experienced lifters/fitness enthusiasts and show the young guns how it’s done.

Then there is timing, are you training in the morning, evening or mid-day? What is your goal, get lean, put on muscle, or gain weight. As you can see there are a lot of very important factors to take into account when designing your “perfect breakfast”.

However there are a few things we should aim to hit when thinking about an important meal like breakfast, regardless of your goals. First of all Macros! This is your chance to start the day with a bang! What I mean by that is load up on protein, making it easy to hit your protein goals for the day. Next in line fat! Fat is an essential component when it comes from good sources. It’s loaded with nutrients especially in the mornings or your first meal, it’s a must. Last but not least we have carbs. For me I want my carbs in the morning to be easily digestible but also to have a bit of fibre. Once we have covered macros what I would like next from my breakfast is NUTRITION. I want that meal to be as Nutrient dense as possible! That means I want Vitamins, fatty acids, minerals and Phytonutrients and as many as I can possibly get!

When you look at the goals for my breakfast and start to imagine what that meal would look like on a plate you quickly realise that you’d probably have to fill a whole dinner plate with food. Speaking from experience most people will say that they would never eat that much because of time restrictions in the morning or lack of appetite. I get that! Not everyone will have the time to sit down and eat a large meal, never mind the time to prep it or the appetite to eat it, but there is another way we can try and get all or most of the benefits of a large well composed nutrient dense meal in the morning.

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The breakfast smoothie!

Easy and fast to make, Macro awesome, nutrient dense with a good amount of water! The important thing to remember is that we are trying to make into a complete meal so we really need to cover our bases. Here is my idea of a nutrient packed breakfast in a smoothie:

2 scoops of whey Protein

1 scoop of warrior greens (green veg powder)

50g of oats

1 teaspoon of flax seeds

45g of avocado

1/2 teaspoon of organic cocoa powder

100g of frozen berries

Add as much water as your blender holds and blitz till smooth.

And there you go, in one pint glass we have a nutrient dense complete breakfast ready in minutes and very easy to go through even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t have much of an appetite in the morning!

All the ingredients and amounts can obviously be altered to suit your body and goals but I would always advise to hit at least 35g of protein in total and min of 15g of high quality fats!

I encourage YOU to try and come up with the most nutritious, easy and fast breakfast smoothie! Let me know how you get on!

Tomek

3 Golden rules of fat loss!

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3 golden rules of fat loss

You might expect some secret forgotten wonder foods you should eat every day, supplement like no other or the one exercise you are not doing that will solve all problems. Unfortunately I am here to only show you 3 science backed components of fat loss which when followed will deliver awesome results! No Gimmicks! If you are still asking the question whether you should go vegan, should you fast for 8 hours a day, should I be on a low fat high carb or the other way around diet? I need you to push all those questions aside for a while! Let’s look at the first and most important component of fat loss.

1.Calories

Yes calories matter! It doesn’t matter how pure, organic and raw your diet is, calories will dictate whether or not you are losing fat. If you’re a beginner and are around 20% body fat then this is what you need to focus on. Don’t get me wrong the pro athlete with 9% body fat will also have to look at his calorie intake but there will be some differences in the calculation formulas. The first thing YOU need to do is find what your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE is! The easiest way is to find an online calculator where you enter your age, gender, height, weight and activity levels. Hey presto! You got yourself a number of calories that You need to consume every day to be able to sustain your current weight, strength and energy on a daily basis! If you are looking to lose body fat then one of the simplest ways of calculating your calorie deficit is to subtract 500kcal from the TDEE and BOOM! You got yourself a target you need to hit every day! If you think you should be lower than that you’re most likely wrong. Going into too much of a calorie deficit straight away will deliver rapid results for a VERY short period of time! Followed by lack of energy, motivation and imminent failure. Small sustainable steps is the way forward!!

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2.Macros bro!

We have all heard about macros by now! Even if you are still not sure what that means. It refers to the MACRONUTRIENTS in food. There are 3 that you should learn a bit about - Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat. These Macros make up your daily calories. It’s basically what all food is made out of. The key here is to get a good ratio of protein to carbs and fat. Especially if you are an active individual which, I am assuming you are! It’s important to remember there are no good or bad macros, the way I like to think about them is that they all have a special role to play:  Protein = building blocks, recovery, strength, health.  Carbs =performance, energy, happy thoughts.  Fat = Health, Essential fatty acids, (if composed from proper sources), anti- inflammation. Each macro nutrient has a calorific value and what that means is in each gram you have a certain amount of calories - Protein: 4kcal, Carbs: 4kcal, Fat: 9kcal.

Protein is the macronutrient you should work out first! A very easy way of calculating your protein intake which should put you in the ball park of your daily needs is simply multiplying your body weight in lbs by 1.2 this number should be sufficient and get you off to a good start! When it comes to the other 2, it really depends on your body type and activity levels. If you train really intensively 4-6 times a week, carbs are your friend. However, your fat intake will have to be slightly lower. The opposite is true if you are not training very intensely e.g. lifting heavy weights, sprinting, playing an intense sport, doing awesome daily workouts at CrossFit Varangian, you won’t need many carbs and therefore you can allow yourself more fat! The ratio of carbs to fat always has to be worked out individually, although from experience I have noticed that you never really want to dip your fat intake bellow 45 grams a day! That is very low and I would always advise clients not to stay that low on fats for too long. Fat has too many health benefits as well as being our main source of Vitamin A, D, E and K which are absolutely essential to our wellbeing!

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3.Tracking & Measuring

Obviously in order to stay on track and hit your calories which, are well balanced and divided between protein, carbs and fat, YOU need to be in charge of the amounts of food that you eat. The best way I can describe this is you will need 3 tracking tools: kitchen scales, bathroom scales and a macro tracker. Measuring your food sounds like it’s going to take a lot of time, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to! Everything you cook at home (when you do your food prep, hint, hint) can be portioned out straight away, measured and packed to be stored away and reheated when needed! It only takes a few minutes, even if you want to measure before the meal it still won’t take you more than 3 minutes to get it done. Out and about? Don’t worry, you don’t need to carry your kitchen scales everywhere with you. Just pick things that can be easily tracked. 1 egg, 1 chicken breast (roughly 130g), 1 apple. The more you weigh things the better you become at estimating the weight! Which brings me to my next tool. The macro tracker! We all pretty much have smartphones these days! We can use that technology to simplify the process. I personally use myfitnesspal, I find it works the best with foods available on the local market. There are different ways of filling it in, at the beginning I encourage people to fill in the tracker in advance for the whole day, that way it gives you an idea of how much you will have to eat. As you gain experience it becomes easier and you can start tracking from meal to meal and playing about a bit more with the amounts of foods on the plate, as the more you track the more knowledgeable you become in regards to what it is you are actually eating!

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Macro trackers are very easy to work as you can see in real time when entering the foods how much of which nutrient you are actually getting. Then all you need to do is alter the amounts to suit your goals! Third tracking tool is the bathroom scale. It’s not ideal when it comes to interpreting the actual results but it gives you a solid indication of whether or not you’re body weight is decreasing. I advise people to step on the scales every day as it gives you a real view of how your body weight can fluctuate but also it allows you to draw an average from every week showing you whether you made progress or do your numbers need to be altered.

There you go, there are my 3 golden rules for fat loss! Some important notes to remember: CONSISTENCY is the key, none of the rules, even if applied with a 100% accuracy won’t change a thing if you “fall off the wagon” every 3rd day. Try sticking to the macros for 30 days straight, minimum and you will see results! PATIENCE. You cannot reverse a lifetime of bad habits in 4 weeks. You need to think about the bigger picture here. You need to be patient and keep going especially on the days when it feels like you are not making any progress. Fat loss is not constant and will fluctuate. You might lose more one month, you might lose less the next. Chill and be patient it will happen and you will get there if you stay true to the course! IF IN DOUBT, ASK FOR HELP! There is no reason you should have to do this alone, there are plenty of awesome people about who are great at managing clients and diets. When shit gets too confusing again find a professional and ask for help. It’s probably going to be the best investment you will ever make!

Tomek

5 foods to supercharge your results!

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5 foods YOU should eat every week!

Being somewhat obsessed about information on food and its potential benefits it was extremely hard to pick just 5! Never the less I feel like this is the list you will benefit from the most, at least for now! All of the foods mentioned in this blog have awesome immune boosting, anti-inflammatory properties and should be eaten on a regular basis. Especially by people who train hard and often. Regardless of your sport or type of training here is my list of 5 foods to introduce into your diet every week!

Fatty fish

You guessed it! (most likely). We have all probably heard by now how important oily fish is in our diet. Especially wild caught over farmed. What are we talking about? Salmon, trout, mackerel, halibut, cod, flounder, sardines. All of these fish are an awesome source of protein but apart from that they contain the fats essential to our wellbeing and performance. Highly saturated in Omega 3 fatty acids as well as high amounts of Vit.D they are a perfect anti-inflammatory food! Whether you are looking to take your recovery to the next level or speed up your fat loss, fatty fish should be on your plate as often as possible!

Avocado

It’s one of my favourite plants just because it contains so many nutrients. Recently we have seen its popularity soar thanks to all the hipsters putting it on toast. Yet another thing we can thank them for (apart from good quality coffee, beards and knit wear). Avocado contains large amounts of: Vit.K, Vit.C, Vit.B5, Vit.B6, Vit.E, Folate and Potassium (more than a banana), also small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin). Not to mention high in fibre and Oleic acid. Perfect for tackling inflammation, speeding up recovery and brain function! For a small plant it sure packs a Nutrition Punch! Whether you’re a CrossFitter or just a person looking after your health and wellbeing, don’t skip on the Avocado.

Sauerkraut

Maybe it’s the heritage talking but I simply can’t imagine not eating this tasty superfood on a regular basis. What is sauerkraut? Quite simply: fermented cabbage. When it comes to nutrition Sauerkraut contains high levels of dietary fibre as well as significant levels of Vit.A, Vit.C, Vit.K, and various B vitamins. Furthermore, it is a good source of Iron, manganese, copper, sodium, magnesium and calcium. But that’s not even where its main benefits lie. It’s the bacteria that make the fermentation happen that make it an AWESOME probiotic. This one ingredient helps you get more out of everything else that has to pass through your digestive system. More nutrients you say? Yes please! Apart from that your immune system will thank you for the boost coming from an awesome vitamin profile. Let’s not forget about sauerkrauts’ benefits when it comes to energy production in your body! #metconfuel

Broccoli

Must be one of my favourite sides. Humble broccoli is truly an antioxidant and fibre package. For that reason alone I think it should replace popcorn in the cinemas (I might have gotten a bit carried away with that statement). Broccoli has high concentrations of vitamin C, making it great for immunity and contains flavonoids which help process the vitamin C efficiently. It is also enriched with carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and other power packed antioxidants. Want to get a PR on your lifts? Add Steak and Broccoli! Its fantastic fibre content makes it a great vegetable to add to your diet when trying to loose body fat! Best way to cook it to preserve most of its nutrition value is lightly steaming it.

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Beetroot- cardio for days!

This nutrient packed gem of a vegetable is awesome. Packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, fibre, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas), beets also contain the B vitamin folate. Immune system gold right there but that’s not even the main benefit YOU should be looking at as a highly active, gains machine. The main benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise. YES!!! The beetroot will help you to tolerate running and burpees! If that’s not a reason to scoff it a few times a week, I don’t know what is.

Other foods that should get a shout out: Beef, spinach, berries, spices. Honestly I could continue for quite a while here so if you found this helpful share this blog and leave a comment and if you are nice I will write a second part!

Tomek

Geek out on Fitness and become a hero of your own adventures!

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Geek out on Fitness and become a hero of your own adventures! I used to hear this phrase a lot “I’m just not into fitness” from a very wide and varied group of people. I’m not going to lie most of the people saying it at the time would have benefitted greatly from just some minor changes to the way they were eating and exercising 3-4 times a week. We all know how important it is to your health and well-being.

Unfortunately the people that said it couldn’t see past the fact that it’s just not something that interests them and therefore refused to invest any time or effort into it. I get it! I used to be one of them! My endless love for marzipan and doughnuts was always first! Training hard you say?? No thank you says Tomek!

It wasn’t till one night while wearing my ab belt and scoffing down Mr. Kipling’s Almond fingers when I decided to watch some anime. I used to be really into and read some old comic books which I also was a huge fan of. I instantly remembered how I wanted to grow up and be just like Wolverine, all jacked and covered in shiny spandex. Or even better be able to turn super Saiyan just like Vegeta and be a shimmering, jacked to the gills, floating in mid-air bad ass! All those thoughts brought back awesome memories but, unfortunately my physique or the fact I couldn’t run a mile and lift anything apart from a bag of doughnuts did not resemble them at all!

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Shocker right? At that point fitness was not my thing at all. To be honest it never was up until I got tired of being overweight, sad and insecure about how weak I had gotten. I started training, learning about training and eating right. It was all going well but I still didn’t really like the process and if you would offer me a wonder pill which would give me all the results without any of the work I’d take it in a heartbeat! The deeper I got with my training and nutrition the more I was starting to understand what this is all about.

I was shocked to discover that it was all about the training, especially the sessions that challenge you the most mentally and physically. It’s then that I made the connection between this pattern and my comic book and Anime heroes. All of a sudden I realised I was always into fitness and already knew how to get to where I want to be! I just needed to translate it into something that connected with me on a personal level! Just like the characters in DBZ I needed to train hard to be able to “level up” my skills and beat the next boss who was coming for me! You can translate that into beating my PR on the deadlift, beating my time on a 5k run and learning how to do a strict ring muscle up. See what I’ve done there??!!

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I distinctively remember the moment when a huge grin appeared on my face realising that I too was just like Vegeta and others, will go through endless adventures, beat boss after boss and keep developing amazing skills and strength! The only difference is I will do it in the gym, kitchen, cage or ring. Translating that journey into something I had a personal connection with was by far the best move I’ve ever taken when it comes to motivation, training mind-set and

health. I knew I made fitness my thing for ever through loving the process and enjoying every second of it! If you are still one of those people who struggle with motivation and mind-set I urge you to look for your heroes who you already have a connection with, be it from TV, comic books or computer games. Embrace the geek and become your own Hero standing right next to, shoulder to shoulder, with the icons of your childhood and youth by making fitness YOUR thing! You will never regret looking back.

Tomek

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