My Biggest Lessons of 2016

 Photo: @lakescreates

Photo: @lakescreates

It’s the second last day of the year today (or the last, depending on where you are in the world), and my Instagram feed is full of posts celebrating achievements and amazing adventures of the year gone by. And I LOVE reading this stuff… hearing about what people have managed to pull off is super motivating for me now. The possibilities of things you can do in life excites my mind. But I didn’t always see it this way. There was a time where even if I was happy for the person, these sorts of posts would make me feel like I was falling behind the rest of the world and just couldn’t keep up. Now I’m a little older, wiser and as a result have a confidence in myself that allows me to see this as inspiration rather than a highlight of my own short comings. So rather than talk about my year’s achievements (which I am pretty super proud of), I want to share what I learned instead that helped me reach them.

“You’ve got to start somewhere to make it anywhere.”

 Generally, by the time you get to know about most successful people, they’re at a point where they’re killing the game. This means that unless you knew them personally way back when, it’s very rare that you get to see the what actually happened in the early days to get them to where they are now. We assume they have some kind of freak talent or maybe stumbled upon a secret formula that skyrocketed them to stardom on their first or second attempt.

But my big discovery of the year was that most people are actually not good at things. If you really enjoy something or realise you have what you think is just a minor talent for something, chances are you are more skilled at it than 95% of the population. There are so many things I never thought I’d be able to do years ago because I only saw the “best” and compared myself to them assuming they were always like this. It wasn’t until I trained alongside or immersed myself more closely with these people that I realised where they’d actually come from, and observed the work they put in day in day out to create these opportunities for themselves.

And there’s nothing wrong with being at the bottom; the least successful person in the room, or the gym. Because, that means that everyone around you is a little bit smarter or more successful than you. And hanging around with, learning from and being inspired and motivated by these kinds of people is the fastest way to not only improve yourself but put yourself in the land of opportunity, or “right place, right time” as they say.

“Never compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.”

Don’t take for granted your little achievements (especially when you first start out with something) or be embarrassed because they seem small compared to the people at the top of the game. People will judge the magnitude of your achievements by the way you portray them. If you’re like “OMG I’m so happy I got 6 people reading my blog post yesterday! That’s like 6 people more than myself that actually find what I have to write about interesting!”, then people will be like “Wow congrats!” And when seeing how happy that makes you, will help you spread the word and help you grow. If they weren’t one of the 6, for sure they’ll be number 7. And if they were, they’re probably thinking “Only 6? How are more people not onto how great this girl’s blog is?!” and go tell all their friends about you. But if you’re like “Ohh I only got like 150 people reading my blog post yesterday”, (and then make some kind of excuse for why you would have more under some other circumstance or whatever), people will just think you’re a failure. Because you think you’re a failure.

The ones that you perceive to be good at stuff just love what they do and are insanely hard workers. You can literally succeed at anything if you work hard enough or try enough times. I’ve seen it… people that just relentlessly try and try and modify and try every different avenue until they eventually get a break through. Not many people see this side of success, and think just because they have a great idea or try something once that it will work. Then when it doesn’t, they give up way too easily. So, if you have talent as well as a solid work ethic, there is a high chance you could very well become the best. Believe it.

Up until this year, I actually believed that because I only started boxing when I was 25, I would never realistically be able to become a world champion. I mean, there are girls who had been doing it since they were like 8 years old! Especially when I started sparring with some of these girls and they were kicking my ass. But it wasn’t long until the sparring was very competitive, and sometimes I was even the one doing the ass kicking. We were helping each other to drastically improve and the quality of the sparring was becoming cause for comment in the gym. The thing that really changed my whole mindset, was when someone pointed out that even though my oppositions had started 1 to 2 decades earlier than I, if you do the maths this meant that I was improving at a rate 5 times faster than what they were. Boom.

To recap…

  • Starting small or at the bottom is ok. Just start.
  • Surround yourself with people smarter than you.
  • Use others’ success for inspiration and don’t lose focus on your goals.
  • Work hard.
  • Celebrate your achievements.

I hope to see you kicking ass in 2017!! Happy New Year (and THANK YOU for reading my blog posts!) Feel free to comment some of the things you’ve achieved this year and give me some inspo going into 2017! 

Avril

How to Approach a Buffet

Firstly, Merry Christmas!! I haven’t updated the blog in a while, so what better time to start than Christmas eve with a few tips to help you enjoy the festivities and holidays to come without blowing your hard work in the gym this year.

One of the greatest things about all-inclusive hotel holidays and buffet dining is the huge variety of salacious food. But when you’re vacationing in a place that looking hot in a bikini is of somewhat importance, or even just want to have the energy to explore and do fun activities, eating from a buffet can also prove a hindrance… if you don’t know how to tackle it right. So I’ve put together a few tips I stick by (and that I enforced upon my Peruvian friend Valeria on our recent trip away together, who has the Miss Universe pageant coming up in January) that allows me to enjoy the yummy food but still be able to climb a mountain or two and look half decent in a beach holiday selfie.

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1. Do a lap before you fill your plate. This will give you an idea of what tastiest options are rather than filling up on stuff you only half like in the first 1/10th of the buffet and overeating cos you still haven’t got to the good stuff yet.

2. Use the small dessert plates instead of the larger, standard ones. Fill eat, eat it, sip some water, have at least 15 minutes of table conversation and then refill if still hungry. You’re on holiday… there’s no need to rush.

3. Eat your veggies first. There are 6 food groups that you should be eating from each day to maintain a healthy balanced diet; carbs, protein, fat, veggies, fruit, dairy (or non-dairy alternatives). All of them are pretty easy to tastily fulfil at most buffets, though veggies can prove most difficult – particularly at breakfast – even though arguably the most important food group! I’ll tell you why they’re so important: generally, they contain more bang-for-your-buck when it comes to nutrients than any other food, while being lowest in calories. They also tend to be high in fibre which will make you feel full. So when weight loss is the goal (or at least minimal weight gain), veggies are your secret weapon. 1 serve = 1 cup of raw or ½ cup of cooked veggies. Girls we should be aiming for at least 5 serves a day, and at least 6 for guys. If you’re trying to get in some veggies at breakfast and realise that your only option is via an omelette, then you don’t want to realise this after you’ve already eaten poached eggs and ham on toast and end up eating wayyyy too much protein that you really need. So just eat the veggies first, in whatever form works best.

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4. Get in a little lean protein each meal. Personally, I think the protein is usually the yummiest thing on a buffet, so I think its easier to overeat protein than it is ever hard to find options. This is where the “do a lap” becomes important… to help you just choose your favorite 1 or 3 things have a small amount of each without overdoing it.

5. Stop eating when you’re not hungry. This is like, #1 rule to avoid getting fat.

6. Divide your carbs. If you’re doing a solid 30-60 min exercise session each day (as you should), it is recommended that you eat around 6 serves of carbs per day. Rather than eating them all in your first meal and then feeling like you have to deprive yourself the rest of the day (which let’s be honest – you probably won’t haha), give yourself and “allowance” each meal. So if you are eating 3 main meals a day, allow yourself 2 serves at each meal (or any other way you want to divide it up, eg. 3 at breakfast, 2 at lunch, 1 at dinner, etc.). This way you can still enjoy and get the nutrients you need from the yummy carby food without feeling guilty.

7. Allow yourself 1 small treat per day, as long as you’ve exercised. After all, you’re on holiday so its ok to relax the rules a little and enjoy a treat, just don’t go crazy having them at every meal… Then it becomes a staple, not a “treat”. And FYI, if you have your dessert at lunch time (as opposed to at dinner) and it fills you up too much, you can either balance it with a smaller dinner or you have time to get active and burn some of those extra calories before you hit the sack.

Remember… if it’s a buffet, it will still be there later when you’re actually hungry again. And if its Christmas lunch, the less you eat now, the more future meals you can be eating amazing left overs. 😉

Happy Holidays!!

Xx

Avril

Why Your "Morning Fat Burner Walk" is a Myth

If you haven’t heard this expression before, what I am referring to is going for a long, brisk walk first thing in the morning before eating. Many people believe it to be the best way to for burning body fat because when you exercise on an empty stomach and at a low intensity, apparently your body will opt to use fat for fuel rather than carbohydrate. Seeing as your stomach is empty, this “fat for fuel” is assumed to come from stored body fat. Supplement companies and Insta-famous fitness models will also have you believe that you can enhance the result by consuming a fat burner shake upon waking and prior to exercising.

Now I’m not saying that walking is a complete waste of time – in fact if you are already doing other high intensity training that day, it’s a great way to burn a few extra calories without placing too much extra toll on your body. For some people, walking is also a great way to wake up, stretch out or relax. However, as a main form of exercise, walking on an empty stomach is not high on the list of most effective ways to shed body fat.

Let me explain…

  1. Your body doesn’t use just one type of fuel. Carbohydrate is the fastest fuel source able to be broken down and therefore easiest / most readily available for your body to use. So if you have carbs available, your body will generally prefer the use of carbs regardless of the intensity of your workout. Most often though, you will use multiple sources of fuel and it is only usually at higher intensities that you will use carbohydrate more exclusively. At a low intensity, your body has the pick of the bunch. My mate Chris Algieri – Sports Nutritionist and former boxing and kickboxing world champion – explains it like this: “You’ve got to think about your body as a high performance sports car AND as a highly efficient economy car. During low intensity sessions or activities, the human machine is very efficient for using fat for long (very long) periods of time. And during high intensity bursts, the body will utilize primarily carbohydrate – namely because of how fast we can liberate energy from carbs. And on top of all that-Our bodies can seamless transition from using a low octane energy source (fat) to a premium grade fuel (carbohydrate) in the same session!”
  2. If you exercise at a low intensity, it will take you longer to burn enough calories to cause an energy deficit, which is necessary for weight/fat loss.
  3. If you exercise in a fasted state you may indeed burn more fat for fuel as a percentage (possibly not in overall actual quantity), but unless you are training for a marathon or some other kind of event that requires you to be able to function well using your fat stores, then it’s totally irrelevant. Why? Because weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. If you’re putting more in your mouth than you’re burning off, then you’ll get fatter. Think of it this way: if you only do low intensity exercise (like walking) that burns a high percentage of fat, then what do you think happens to all the carbs you eat? (And yes, you MUST eat carbs). You guessed it, if they’re not burned they get stored as fat. And ok, just say you don’t eat carbs (something I don’t recommend if you want to function optimally), you’re going to be eating more fat and protein to make up for the void of energy your body will be feeling. Possibly a sugar binge here and there too when you give in to a craving due to fatigue stemming from lack of carbs. So basically you’ll just have an endless amount of fat to burn until you eventually reach your goal… which could be a long time later because you don’t burn very many calories in low intensity exercise like walking and it’s harder to create a caloric deficit. Compare this to if you went jogging instead, where you would burn a higher percentage of carbs, and lower percentage of fat, but you would burn many more So remaining in the body, you have less carbs to be stored as fat, and less fat stored as fat. That’s less fat remaining overall. It doesn’t matter if the calories come from fat or carbs.

And before you say that you want to “Lose fat” not “lose weight” let me explain that too… If you reduce body fat and maintain the same weight, it is likely because you are simultaneously gaining muscle. The gaining of this muscle (and therefore faster metabolism) could even be the reason for your reduction in body fat. But two separate things are occurring here; muscle gain is one, and fat loss is another. If you were to maintain all other variables and strictly just reduce body fat, then this will result in “weight loss”. As we are discussing the burning of fat and not the loss or gain of muscle, for the sake of this article I will refer to “fat loss” and “weight loss” as one and the same. Just to clear up any confusion 😉

So what exercise will most effectively reduce body fat?

Low intensity exercise is still important to your regime for a whole host of reasons. But if you can, try a more moderate intensity exercise such as jogging. It doesn’t have to be super fast, in fact a medium pace is totally fine! You will burn through your energy stores much faster than if walking, and you should recognise when your body is favouring the use of fat for energy as your energy levels will drop. So when you get tired, keep pushing and you will burn more fat.

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And just FYI, eating when you wake up, smashing out a weights and/or high intensity cardio session later (that you have a tonne of energy for because you ate) and then even sitting around all day afterward will also burn a lot of fat. Why? After resistance / high intensity exercise a phenomenon called “excess post exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC) occurs. Basically, this refers to the increased amount of oxygen required and further calories burned after a workout as a result of that workout, used for things like muscle repair, cell recovery and returning the muscles to their pre/workout state. The harder you push yourself the more calories you will continue to burn later on after the session… even when you are doing nothing. Again – not that its relevant – but because during this phase you are in a low intensity state (doing nothing) your body is able to source more of these calories from fat and not rely as heavily on carbohydrate.

Will I utilise more body fat if I take a fat-burner supplement?

Fat burner supplements claim to get you burning more fat. Here’s how it actually works: The supplements make it easier for your body to break down fat cells, which means they are more readily available to be used for fuel. Your body will still favour the use of carbohydrates if available. But once these carb stores run low, you won’t feel so f*ed when your body starts to use a higher amount of fat stores and may feel like you’ve got a little more energy to continue for longer. Keep in mind though that the harder you have to work, the more calories you will burn. At the end of the day weight loss is due to calories in vs calories out, not due to how much carbs or fat you burned, so NOT taking a supplement and rather just sucking it up and pushing yourself harder through the struggle could actually get better “fat burning” results. In this day and age many people want to take the “easy” option or the “quick fix”, and while it might sound great it’s not always the most effective method.

In saying all that, if your goal is not actually to reduce body fat and instead to do with athletic performance (such as marathon running), then taking a fat burner supplement could be beneficial.

I hope this helps to clear up any confusion surrounding this issue for you! If you are looking for the best and fastest way to shed fat permanently, contact me about help with nutrition and/or a personalised workout plan.

Avril

Ps. Outfit is from Mink Pink

My Fave Weight Loss Foods

With the biggest boxing tournament of my career looming around the corner, the last 2 weeks since returning from a month of travel and half-assing life have been solidly focussed on dropping 10lb to make fight weight. (I had to get from 135lb to 125lb). The first 6lb were gone in 2 days; I usually sit comfortably at 128-129lb day to day, so as soon as I returned to normal eating and training my body responded quickly. The last 4lb have taken a little more discipline to lose, complicated further by the fact that I still need to have a tonne of energy and healthy nutrients every day to maintain my training load and recover well. It’s not so simple as reducing my calories and dealing with feeling like a zombie for a few days… In a sport like boxing that would also be the fastest way to get knocked out haha.

Reducing calorie intake technically is the basis for weight loss (weight loss only occurs when you burn more calories than you consume), but when trying to do it simultaneously to maximising athletic performance, it must be done in such a way that I’m consuming MORE carbs, MORE protein and MORE vitamins and minerals. Basically, I want low calorie foods that have a lot of bang for my buck… foods that will satisfy my nutrient needs with minimal (or no) amounts of other sh*t, make me feel full, foods that require higher amounts of energy to digest than they even contain and/or induce my metabolism to go into overdrive and chewing through calories left right and centre.

My diet is not restricted to only these foods; these are just some that in addition to a regular healthy diet of lean meat/fish, veggies, grains, etc, help the weight loss process along a little. And there are obviously loads more than just the few I’m about to list, but these are some of my faves:

  • Farro. What is it? It’s is a grain, kind of like quinoa or rice. When trying to get lean, eating less calories but more nutrition is the aim of the game. Which makes farro awesome, because its unprocessed like other carb sources made from flour eg. bread, pasta, etc. For a grain, it’s also super high in protein and contains more fibre than brown rice or quinoa! I usually just cook up 1 cup (when raw) of it every few days and keep it in the fridge ready to add to salads when I need to. You basically cook it like rice and it only takes about 15 mins to cook. Get into it!!
  • Grapefruits. They have long been known for their weight loss benefits, being high in fibre (make you feel full), and great for stabilizing your blood sugar, resulting in lower insulin levels which means your body can use more food for fuel rather than storing it as fat. It is also said to curb cravings… I don’t really get cravings when I eat a balanced diet and sleep enough so I can’t vouch for that, but it sounds good 😉
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  • Cinnamon and Cayenne pepper are also said to be great for stabilizing blood sugar and therefore lowering insulin levels. They are also known for causing your metabolic rate to rise (meaning you burn more calories faster, making it easier to create that caloric deficit required to lose weight)
  • Paprika is another metabolism boosting spice that may also reduce your appetite. I put this on chicken, salmon, veggies, salads, avocado on toast… It kinda tastes good on anything haha.
  • Asparagus.
    ne spear of asparagus has only approx. 4 calories in it! Most people use more calories to digest it than what’s even in it = Perfect weight loss food!!!! (I put mine in an omelette with other veggies too). Celery is another similar option with only 6 calories per medium stalk.
  • Plain Black Coffee or Green Tea. Caffeine will not only speed up metabolism, it gives me the energy of a crazy person so I want to exercise about 20 times harder than usual, and am even just more physical in my day to day activities rather than wanting to sitting around on my butt. Though the key here is not to overdo it, as you don’t want to start losing sleep. An optimal sleeping pattern is one of the key ingredients in effective weight loss and recovery. Coffee can also be known to supress appetite a little, and while this can be helpful to stop you from boredom eating, be mindful to make sure you still eat, as coffee will only make you “feel” like you have energy, you still need to food to “give” you energy and sustenance.
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  • Avocado, Olive oil and Almonds – not together, but for the same reasons, so I’m grouping them as one to save repeating myself haha. They are great sources of healthy, unsaturated fats. As they consist mostly of fat they are relatively high in calories compared to say fruits and vegetables, however only small amounts of them are very filling, and they are possibly 3 of the most bang-for-your-buck, nutrient-packed super-foods around. Plus, almonds and avocados are reasonably high in fibre too!

Another thing to note is that all these foods are quite low in sodium, which helps with alleviating water retention and bloating. And I do drink a substantial amount of water – sometimes around 5L a day – as we sweat a lot here in Miami haha. It is important to eat a little salt in the diet, especially when doing a high volume of sweating and training, but when trying to lose weight you don’t want to be carrying around any extra water weight. If you’re interested, check out this previous post of mine on the process of reducing weight via water loading.

Of course to be most effective in a weight loss diet, all these foods must be eaten in their appropriate quantities. If you need help with your nutrition (or a personalised workout plan) feel free to give me a shout! :)

Avril

Banish Body Acne

It’s warming up, clothing is becoming less, you’re spending a bit more time in the gym and looking and feeling really good about your self. You’ve got a hot new backless dress you want to wear out on the weekend until you notice something awful… ugly little pimples over your arms, shoulders and backs of your legs. This happens to me at the start of almost every summer and it’s so embarrassing! So how do you fix it? And more importantly, what causes it and how do you avoid it happening in the first place?

Here’s the problem: that minimal summer clothing means more skin contact with non-breathable surfaces often laden with bacteria. Not just in the gym, but even at cafés, at work, anywhere. But if you’re rubbing shoulders and sharing equipment with other sweaty people in the gym, your chances of this bacteria getting on your skin is magnified. And even if these surfaces are super clean, if you spend a lot of time sitting on them you are basically blocking your pores and not allowing them to breathe, so your own sweat can cause a little bacteria build up and give you butt acne.

So firstly a few tips for avoiding it:

  • Use an antibacterial face wipe over your face AND body immediately after training (mainly on those exposed skin areas) Try to get one that contains either salicylic acid or benzoyl . Personally I use the pink Neutrogena ones and they work well for me.
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  • If you can, shower after training and use a body wash that contains salicylic acid. If not, then at least change out of your sweaty gym clothes, use the antibacterial wipe and towel off and then shower with the body wash as soon as you can. I have used many different brands and they all seem to be equally as effective.
  • Exfoliate regularly. I exfoliate every day, but I have been told that that’s bad as it doesn’t allow your body to naturally moisturise your skin with its own oils and your skin will dry out. It works for me though, so I guess how often is an individual thing. If you are getting body acne, this can sometimes be from too much oil build up blocking your pores, so exfoliating more could help. Or it could be detrimental; when you remove the natural body oils too often this could encourage higher production of natural body oil to replace it – especially if you don’t moisturise – meaning your skin will become oilier and more chance of pore blockage. We’re all different, so just experiment. Oh and on that note, change your exfoliating gloves regularly and hang them up to dry properly between use to avoid rubbing a bacteria manifestation all over yourself.
  • Wear breathable clothing that covers your problem areas, or if you are set on wearing shorts and tank tops like me, put a towel down before sitting or leaning on any equipment so they are not exposed to contact with any surfaces, and there is material between the surface and your skin allowing your pores to breathe. I actually do this in cafes and at work too haha, my friends laugh at me when I get my tea towel or napkin out to sit on.

But if you’ve already got it, no doubt you just want to know the fastest way to get rid of it! Personally I find the salicylic acid wash is great for avoiding body acne, but it wasn’t doing enough to get rid of what had sprouted before I realised I had a problem and started using it again. I literally tried and experimented with everything and here was what I found gave me the best results:

  • An exfoliating cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide applied specifically on the problem areas (in the shower). I use the Clean and Clear Advantage 3-in-1 exfoliating cleanser (below).
  • The Clean and Clear Advantage acne spot treatment (above) applied onto clean skin. So after a shower, and then at 2-3 other times in the day that I just wipe the skin clean first before applying. The active ingredient in this is salicylic acid and its oil free, so if you can find this exact one, then look for something similar.
  • Not moisturising in my problem areas.

Any time I have little breakouts, they’re usually completely gone in about 2-3 days using those Clean and Clear products. I haven’t found anything faster than that! Note that many of these acne fighting products may dry out your skin, so be sure to drink a lot of water and moisturise well the other non-problem areas of your body.

I hope that helps… It’s awful working so hard on your body, doing all the right things in the gym and the kitchen and then still not feeling confident to wear the things you want! If you have some other products that you use and love, please comment and tell me 

Avril

Best On-The-Go Snacks

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We’ve all been there – starving, no food to eat (or nothing decent anyway) and end up gorging at our next meal with no f*cks given towards any intention we ever had to be healthy. All of a sudden its days or weeks later, the jeans no longer fit and we’re trying to explain to our friends, partners, personal trainers, whoever cares that its just soooo haaaarrrd when you’re as busy as us. 99% of us don’t have the luxury of time to be hand selecting our organic meat and veggies from the local farm and then spending all day in the kitchen cooking up a meal of health perfection every time we need to eat. Most of us are so busy we feel like we don’t even have time to eat haha.

So what is the solution? Unfortunately, your issues go far beyond this blog post and I can’t solve them all haha, but I will try and help with a few ideas for snacks on the go that are handbag/car friendly and have many a time got me out of that desperate cycle that leads to binge eating and weight gain.

Firstly I want to point out that eating, sleeping, drinking (water) and exercise are the fundamentals of survival. So if you find you “don’t have time to eat” you may want to re-evaluate your life and core values haha… Make time. Even if its 5 minutes to munch down a pre-made meal or one of these snacks below, you NEED to eat and you NEED to eat regularly. And trust me, your brain will function much more efficiently once you have some decent nutrients in you – that 20 minutes that you spent fluffing about a task could suddenly become 5, and voila, there is an extra 15 minutes you could have spent eating. Same goes with drinking water, keep a water bottle on you and set alarms to remind you if you have to until it just becomes habit.

Ok so snacks. All of the following ideas are healthy but as far as which one you should be having to keep that bod in shape, well that depends on what else you’re eating for the day. For example, if you are already eating enough protein at all your other meals that you actually have time to cook, then snacking on a tin of tuna (high protein) is not going to be the best option because then you’ll just end up eating too much protein and not enough of one of the other food groups and your nutrient balance will be out of whack. THEN, you’ll start to feel like crap and end up overeating anyway and still get fat. Yes that’s right, even eating too much healthy food can make you fat. My BodyBAM online fitness program explains all this in detail (about food groups, nutrient balance and basically what you need to eat to maintain a lean physique and have loads of energy year round).

So to help you out, I’ll give you a little explanation on each of them, so you know how to fit them into your day……

Tins of Tuna or Sardines – High in protein, healthy fats and Omega-3’s! The leanest choices are the ones in spring water or brine, but if you get the one in oil just make sure you include it in your count of fat serves for the day. Just a hint – carry a spoon or fork with you too haha – the amount of times I have cut my mouth on a tuna tin lid is not fun.

Chief Bar – Made from 100% grass fed meat (beef or lamb), dried fruit and are the only completely natural, no preservatives, chemical-free protein bar on the market. And one of the only savoury protein bars in the world. Beef is my fave. Personally, I don’t do regular protein bars. Most of them are filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives and are actually not very healthy at all. These are currently only available in Australia though.

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Kind Bars – I only recently got into these since being in the USA, but I’m sure I’ve seen them in other parts of the world and if not, then something similar in any case. Its basically a nut bar with a bit of rice and other all-natural, non-genetically modified ingredients. My favourite is the Dark chocolate chili almond, closely followed by the Dark chocolate mocha almond (they have loads of flavours including other non-chocolate ones too, most of which are gluten free if you care about that – I don’t haha). With only 200 Calories, 7g fibre, 6g protein and the majority of the Calories coming from unsaturated (healthy) fats, it’s a hard snack to beat taste-wise. Lately I’ve been having one of these everyday… a much healthier and more filling option to my usual chocolate indulgence with the same level of satisfaction.

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Raw veggies – Think carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, capsicums (peppers for the non-Australians), beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes (my fave)… so many options here! You can even carry a little salt shaker or sachets to sprinkle on a pinch if you “don’t like” raw veggies. Everything tastes good with a bit of salt, trust me haha. Oh but isn’t adding salt to your food bad? Not necessarily – again depends how much you are eating throughout the rest of the day in other foods – but a bit of salt on a fresh vegetable is going to be 1000x better than McDonalds, or even a (deep-fried, oily, processed) packet of chips. The recommended minimum serve of veggies is 5 per day for women and 6 for men. Veggies tend to be low in calories which make them a great option if you are trying to lose weight and choosing ones that are high in fibre will help you stay fuller for longer – even better! (Yep, that is me eating a capsicum post surf haha)

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Fruit or berries – I know you can think of a tonne of handbag friendly fruit options without my help. The recommended daily serve of fruit is 2 pieces (or equivalent to 2 cups) per day for both men and women. Super active people/kids can definitely have extra! Most fruits are also high in fibre.

Brown rice cakes –  Great brain food, as they are high in low GI carbs to keep your energy up! If you live somewhere really cold or you had a little cooler bag you can carry, you can even take a spoon and top them with some cottage cheese. If not, then hummus, peanut butter or almond butter (look at the ingredients list and make sure there is only one ingredient – peanuts/almonds) are also yummo. With Vegemite (if you’re not Australian, google it), fruit or just plain as they are also works.

Nuts. Nuts contain a little protein, fibre and are high in healthy fats which will fill you up and keep your energy levels stable. Almonds and walnuts are great bang-for-your-buck choices!

Yoghurt (but only if you live in cold climates or can keep it in a cooler bag that you carry with you). Go for a plain Greek yoghurt that is low in sugar (under 6g/100mL, or if it has fruit in it then under 10g/100mL), low-fat and check the ingredients list to make sure it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or chemicals in it – you are better off going for one with higher fat content or higher natural sugar content (i.e from fruit).

Left over LEAN red meat (not salami). Red meat is best stored in the refrigerator, but if cooked and then stored in a clean, airtight container it can actually be left out for a few hours without going bad and still be edible at snack time. Don’t try this with chicken, eggs or fish though. So you can get up 15 mins earlier (or do it the night before and leave in the fridge overnight) and pre-make a meat and salad sandwich or cook up some brown rice and veggies to go with it and you have yourself a full meal on the go. Disclaimer – if you get sick (which could happen if you didn’t store/cook your meat properly) I take no responsibility on this one.

If you want to expand your options even further to refrigerated goods, buy a lunch box and put an icepack in it. Since bodybuilding and fitness competitions have become the latest craze, some supplement companies out there now make mini cooler bags that you can safely store and keep cool pre-made meals. I don’t know any to recommend you, but a little Google search should find you a tonne in your country.

I guess the main thing is to be prepared. Not just with snacks on the go, but knowing what foods you are going to eat over the entire day so that you are getting the right balance of all the food groups and nutrients that you need. If you eat toast for breakfast and a big pasta meal for dinner, then snacking on rice cakes may not be your best option if you want to stay slim. But if you have a veggie omelette for breakfast, and fish and vegetables for dinner, snacking on rice cakes throughout the day could be perfect for what you need! If you’re interested to know more, contact me for help with a nutrition guide or personalised exercise plan.

Happy snacking! If you have any other ideas, feel free to share the love and leave them in the comments below! 

Avril

Getting Your Bod Photoshoot Ready in 4 days

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So you’ve got a photo shoot or event coming up for which you want to look super lean… and you only have a few days to get there. What’s the secret to dropping 10lb in 4 days? And more importantly, how do you do it without crash dieting, starving yourself, fainting, causing serious metabolic issues or giving yourself other long term health problems? This is a trick I was actually taught when I had to make weight for boxing matches and when I noticed how lean I was looking, I realised it would also come in very useful when getting ready for the catwalk or a photo shoot.

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Let me start by saying this: the best way to get in shape will never change – with a balanced, lean and nutritious diet and a variety of types of regular exercise. And unfortunately the best results take time. If you need some guidance with this, check out my just released Body By Avril Mathie online fitness program at www.bodybam.com and I will show you the fastest way to get in shape for good. Though it’s going to take a lot longer than 4 days haha.

But if you are already in pretty good shape, and just want to make that muscle definition “pop”, there is a concept that you can try known as “water loading” that is commonly used by professional fighters and other athletes trying to “make weight” for competition. The idea of it is to temporarily dehydrate the body so that water weight is lost specifically timed for the event. As a result, the athlete will also look very “dried out” and “cut”. It is not safe practice to maintain this state of dehydration for more than a day or two, or on a regular basis. But if done properly, it is a very effective and relatively safe way to get lean, fast.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: If your fitness and nutrition is not of high quality, do not bother with this. Not only will it have little effect on you, but your body may not be able to handle it.

So what do you do? The exact method will slightly vary per individual for obvious reasons, and may require a little experimentation to get right for you. But the general idea is to first drink a LOT of water (think 8-9L a day) for 2 days to trick your body into releasing water and making you go to the toilet a lot. Then for the next 2-3 days after that drop your water intake to 1 to 1.5L a day until your event. In these last 2-3 days you can help the process along a little by doing a few sweat sessions – sauna, running, walking wearing warm clothes, etc – though any exercise should be at a low intensity. The first phase is very important because of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin’s role is to recognise even the slightest of dehydration and cause your body to go into water conservation mode, so simply reducing your water intake will not get you over the line; it may even make you more bloated!!

Throughout this entire time, your diet wants to be very basic – eg. Plain chicken/fish, veggies and fruit (no sauces or additives). You can flavour your food with things like garlic and fresh herbs, but no salty sauces or packet seasonings. You should avoid any foods that contain even moderate levels of salt (red or deli meats, anything off the supermarket aisles, cheeses, breads, coconut water, gatorade etc) and also try to keep your starchy carb intake minimal (and go for veggie sources such as sweet potato rather than rice or bread), as both salt and carbohydrates contribute to water retention. Eating a little extra healthy fat (eg. avocado, nuts, olive oil etc) than normal will help stabilise your energy and hunger levels from lack of carbs.

Just a note that you may not want to have anything else important on over these last few days, as even though you shouldn’t feel hungry, with reduced carbohydrates and hydration your brain function and concentration levels may feel a little low. This method is also NOT recommended if your “event” involves drinking alcohol (eg. a wedding), or it may be the fastest way you end up in hospital.

During this whole process, regularly monitor your progress being careful not to go beyond your “goal”. If you reach it earlier than expected, raise your water intake to maintain until the event.

Post event re-hydration and eating is very important and should be slowly increased back to normal. Going for a big feast once your event is over will only make you sick and/or lethargic. Save Max Brenner’s for later haha, trust me ;). Sipping coconut water, Gatorade and liquid carbohydrate drinks are good options at this time to replenish your electrolytes and energy, and because they are liquid they will hit your system faster than food will. Initially you should avoid foods high in fat and fibre, as these will slow down your digestion and absorption of nutrients (though long term, these foods are great for maintaining low body fat!)

I usually only use this water loading method for fitness shoots where I am actually required to be quite muscular looking (and for fights obviously). With a balanced healthy lifestyle as detailed in my BodyBAM program, I generally walk around pretty lean and “photo shoot ready” all year round and if I were to dehydrate I can sometimes actually look too muscular for some jobs, fashion in particular. As I mentioned earlier if you need help with long term permanent weight or fat loss, or even just body re-shaping and posture, my BodyBAM program has all the answers! 

 

Just to show you the difference… Dehydrated (top 2 pics) vs Normal (bottom 2 pics)

Good luck with your competition, photo shoot or event! I hope this helps!! Xx

Avril

What Causes Cellulite and How to Reduce it

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Firstly, yes that is my butt haha, please excuse it – I just wanted to show you that a cellulite-free booty is achievable. Secondly, my cellulite used to be so much worse than it is now (and it still shows a little when I sit in certain positions). I had always had it a little even while I was pretty fit, but it was right after my 25th birthday that it suddenly started to become a noticeable issue for me and I began my research on why and trying everything to try to make it go away.

(this picture is a little older than that from before it was really bad – I guess I deleted those ones haha – but you can see the difference anyway)

Thirdly, I guess you need to know what cellulite even is. Haha. It’s basically just the uneven spread of fat beneath the skin, which can make certain areas of your body look “dimpled” or “lumpy”. It is completely normal to have cellulite… most of us do! It is just more visible in some people than in others.

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What Causes Cellulite?

Women tend to have it more than men, because of the way our skin is structured differently. You can see in the second picture that the collagen bonds in males (in which the fat cells sit) are criss-crossed compared to in women where they run more vertically. Men also tend to have a thicker epidermis (top layer of skin) to us women. What this means is that as fat cells expand (when we get fatter), women’s skin tends to appear in lumps, where as men’s skin will appear more smoothly in comparison.

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These skin structures can also vary from person to person with different genetics, which is why some females can have it more than others at the same body fat percentage. Asian people for example, tend to have much less cellulite than the rest of us.

Lifestyle and other factors that can also increase cellulite include:

  • Inactivity and poor circulation
  • Getting old and loss of elasticity in the skin
  • Stress
  • Over-production of Oestrogen (hormone) and/or hormonal contraceptives
  • Weight gain and/or poor diet
  • Alcohol

Unfortunately you cannot change your skin structure, but there are a few things you can do to help dramatically reduce its appearance…

So, how do we get rid of it?

– If you have excess body fat, then reduce it. The less fat you have, the less you’re going to see, whether it’s lumpy or not. The best way to do this is with a balanced, healthy diet and regular exercise. (If you’re not sure what this is, see my note at the end of this article).

– Regular resistance training. Placing your muscles under load (whether lifting weights or using your body weight), causes them to become stronger and tighter, which pulls on and “tightens” the collagen bands that encase the fat. The tighter these are, the less your fat will appear in lumps. Resistance training is also a great way to burn fat.

– Eat unprocessed, nutritious foods…

  • Foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect or that are high in antioxidants will help stop free-radical damage that weakens the dermis (remember the weaker your skin, the worse cellulite will appear). Think berries, apples, kiwi, melons, mango, citrus, dark leafy greens, beans, broccoli and lettuce.
  • Foods that encourage circulation, such as spices; chili and pepper.
  • Taking a glucosamine supplement can help to repair damage to the dermis and re-strengthen the skin.
  • Protein sources that boost collagen and elastin production inside the connective tissues (“plumps” the skin) such as poultry, eggs, fish, nuts and wheat.
  • Essential Fatty Acids help maintain hydration of cells and connective tissue. Best sources are nuts, seeds and cold water fish such as wild caught salmon.

– Hydrate!

– Lose the tight underwear! Constriction of the tops of the legs and thighs reduces the blood flow which can increase cellulite. Go for g-strings or loose fitting undies instead. Or just don’t wear any. Haha 😉

– Stress Less. Take 3 deep breaths. Half the time this will fix you right up. But if not, check out this post [ link to https://www.avrilmathie.com/work-smarter-not-harder/ ]  I wrote on dealing with stress. Yoga and meditation are also great ways to put yourself at ease. When you are stressed, blood circulation is redirected away from the skin, which decreases the flow of nutrients and toxin removal. Also, most people eat sh*t when they are stressed, which will only makes things worse.

– Lay off the Grog. (That means alcohol for anyone who doesn’t know how to speak Australian haha)

– Be a man. Or an Asian. Or an Asian man. Haha, just kidding.

– Reduce dairy for 2-3 months. Note that just cutting out dairy without doing all of the above things first will probably get you little or no results. But if you have tried everything else, this may help. There is no solid research as yet to back this, but it is theorised that as dairy contains high levels of oestrogen, removing it from the diet for a period of time and then very slowly reintroducing it back in smaller quantities may help the body to get its own levels under control, if this was an issue. I love dairy and used to eat/drink about triple the recommended amount, haha oops! 😉 In my case, I already did most of the other things I listed and I believe this and a few other little changes to my diet (as above) to have been the game changer.

If you’re not sure what to eat or what exercises to do and need a little help, contact me for a nutrition guide or personalised workout plan.

Avril xx

The Story of Boxing and I

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“Aren’t you scared of being punched in the face?” Is almost always the response when people ask about me boxing competitively. And I guess it is an odd combination given my international pageant titles (Las Vegas International Model Search 2016 and Miss Swimsuit USA International 2014) and sideline modelling career haha, but to be honest its not really something I am concerned about. I mean, no one enjoys being punched in the face haha, but you don’t get into the ring just to be a punching bag; the aim of the game is to punch without getting punched, to master the art of movement. So I guess you could say that the likely possibility of getting punched in the face is just extra motivation to train hard, be smart and untouchable 😉

For me, boxing is like a cross between a game of chess, poker and the ultimate fitness test. It crosses tactics, trickery, mental and physical strength in a way that no other sport does. Not only do you have to work your opponent out and come up with a constantly changing game plan in just milliseconds, you have to be able to have the physical ability to carry it out, on your own. I remember years ago watching combat sports thinking, “come on, just scoot around and hit him there with that punch” or whatever, and its not until you’re in the ring yourself and realise that the fighter probably knew that, his trainer knew it too and was screaming it at him from the corner, but he just couldn’t physically do it haha.

The training you put in to prepare for a fight forces you to learn a lot about who you are as a person. As not just a boxer but a trainer also, I can bear witness to the fact that the way people train is generally how we live every other part of our lives too. To actually step into the ring and fight takes guts and commitment, which gives you the opportunity to strengthen your character and be the person you want to be (whoever that may be) and have that attitude transpire into all other aspects of your life.

People often ask me, “why boxing? Why not muay thai? Or MMA?” and the fact is I actually started off doing Muay Thai when I was 16. A guy grabbed my butt at a party so I turned around and punched him on the chin, incorrectly of course, and almost broke my thumb. Haha, but my unrestrained hostility was apparent enough for his friend to come up to me afterward and suggest that I join his Muay Thai class the next week, so I did. I trained in Muay Thai on and off for years, and from when I was about 22 I even started to take regular trips to Thailand to train there. Though late in 2012 I broke my foot in training, which was just one of a number of constant training injuries. At the time I was training with a coach that had a strong background in boxing and so as a way to stay fit until I could kick again, he started to teach me not just technique but also the tactical side of boxing.

Until then, I never realised how different the 2 sports were and how much more you need to think in boxing. Muay Thai is literally just 2 people standing in front of each other and a test of who is tougher can react faster. In boxing you have only your hands, so you need to be a lot smarter and fitter to manoeuvre your whole body around the ring. I always laugh when girls tell me they’d rather do kickboxing over boxing because they want to work their legs… I’m like, “girl, you have clearly never boxed properly” haha. I have never had more compliments on my butt and legs than since I started boxing. And no, I don’t “squat” (outside of rolling under punches) … well rarely, and not more than like 15kg anyway haha.

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Learning the art and science behind boxing was what made me interested in actually fighting for the for the first time. I mean, how else to put my new knowledge to the test? Sparring is fun, but the adrenaline, the learning process, and the ultimate challenge really comes when you are in that pressure situation of an actual fight. After the first time I was addicted, so it was only natural to have 10 more, and I don’t plan to stop there. So far I’m up to 11 fights, with 8 wins including 1 TKO.

I’ve been lucky enough to have trained with some of the best in my time, starting with Chris Carden from Platinum Boxing Club on the Gold Coast (Australia), Mayweather Boxing Gym, UNLV and Top Rank in Vegas, and for the past month I’ve been training at the World Famous 5th St Boxing Gym in Miami (Florida), which has been amazing to say the least. Everyone has their own different style; there is no one way to box. So training with guys at the top of their game is not only super motivating, but if you keep your eyes, ears and mind open you can always learn something from everyone that you can incorporate into your own style. That never-ending learning process keeps me hooked.

The second question is usually “so does it hurt getting punched in the head?” At the time, no. Well, not for me anyway. There is so much adrenaline pumping in a fight the only thing I feel is if I can still see and breathe or not. I tend to be so focussed on the job at hand that all other pain senses switch off, until the next day or hours after the fight at least haha. I have had many a black eye, generally from sparring more than actual fights, but nothing a bit of make up can’t cover up and a couple of paracetamol can take away the pain. Give me minor black eyes any day over the deeply bruised shins, knee, hip and ankle injuries, broken toes, limps and tennis elbows I’ve had from Muay Thai and would no doubt endure from MMA! 😉

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So that is why I fight. But I get that jumping into the ring to compete isn’t for everyone (come on girls, we need more of you in the sport haha). Though I can assure you that it is the best, most fun and most effective fat burning workout I have ever done; I have never been fitter in my life. Which is why when writing the BodyBAM exercise programs (my holistic online fitness program for women that is launching next week!!), I included so many boxing workouts… You will be having so much fun you wont even realise how hard you’re working 😉 Check it out now >> www.bodybam.com 

Enjoy xx

Avril

A Fit Girls Guide to Miami

For the past month or so I have been hanging out in Miami, Florida… South Beach to be specific. I LOVE this place, I literally walk around everywhere with my jaw dropped in awe of just how beautiful it is; the beach, the art deco buildings, the palm trees. When most people think of Miami/South Beach they think of a party town… and it can be like that, but there is also an awesome fitness culture here and some of the best gyms and activities I have found!

So if you want to come back from a Miami holiday feeling amazing and kicking ass at life, here are my suggestions:

1.

Train at the World Famous 5th Street Boxing gym (Its actually on 15th and Alton, it moved but they kept the name). Really cool, authentic but clean boxing gym. Everyone is inviting and helpful and they have loads of group classes daily for beginners to pros. Many famous people have trained and still do train here. While you’re there speak to Donato and try a pair of Mason’s boxing gloves – new on the market and the best I’ve ever worn – made from real Italian leather.

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2.

Get in a callisthenic workout flipping around (or watch others flip around) the bars on the beach near Ocean Ave and 9th I was super inspired just watching the things people can do! The locals were super friendly; if you ask nicely people are often more than willing to try to teach you how to do their tricks too!

 

3.

Have a meal at “Dirt Eat Clean”, a paleo place on 5th Their menu ranges from ultra-squeaky-clean-paleo to more liberal-yummy-paleo haha, so there is something fresh and healthy for everyone. If you like sushi, Moshi Moshi on Washington and Espanola Way is my fave… They have real crab meat and brown rice if you ask for it! And speaking of crab, the crab burger at Big Pink is a must (depending on your definition of healthy haha) and so sooo good.

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4.

Join the Lululemon running group at 7pm on a Thursday. They meet at the store on Lincoln Road and go for a 3-4 mile run (or run/walk for some). There are people of all fitness levels, and its more of a fun social event than anything, so get along and meet some awesome locals! There are usually about 40-60 people that go, but I am told they do another one in Brickell (15 mins drive away – and another place that is well worth checking out for restaurants/nightlife if you’re into that) same time on a Tuesday night that attracts around 400 runners!!

5.

If running is your thing, then Miami is perfect! Its pretty much all flat and so beautiful to explore! The sand on the beach is also quite hard too (compared to in Australia anyway), so its pretty easy to run on. On days when I feel like a bit of a longer challenge, its really pretty to go running over any of the bridges to the “mainland”, especially at sunrise or sunset.

 

6.

In between exercise sessions and eating, fill your days laying on the beach, shopping on Lincoln Road, chill at Starbucks on Ocean and people watch or get a massage.

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7.

Rent a car from Miami Beach car rentals (their number is +1 305 748 6301) – tell them Avril the Australian girl sent you; every time I have asked for “just the cheapest car” here, they always upgrade me to like a convertible or some other badass car haha. There are a lot of other awesome places and things to do outside of South Beach that will make getting a car definitely worth your while!

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Including:

8.

Train at Jaco Hybrid Training Centre in Boca Raton. This place is hands down the coolest functional gym I have ever been to. It actually reminds me of WickedBodz, my fitness centre at home in Australia, but on steroids (not literally haha). In addition to all the regular machines and weights etc, they have every piece of functional training equipment you could imagine (and even that you couldn’t imagine), a huge cross fit section, an even bigger MMA section (it’s home to the Blackzilians including a number of UFC fighters), and loads of group classes daily. Check it out, you will be amazed.

 

9.

After the gym, you HAVE to go to Farmhouse Kitchen by Gary Rack. It’s one of those farm-to-table casual restaurants that has the most incredible and fresh salads, burgers and other meals. I usually get the Kale Yeah Salad (add chicken and avo and dressing on the side – and note: the pic below does not even do it justice as to how good it is) or the Veggie burger. And the sweet potato fries are a must.

 

10.

Head to Deerfield Beach, also known by locals as “little Brazil”. It’s a beautiful little beach lined with restaurants, beach volleyball nets and SUP and especially on weekends there is plenty of action and great people watching.

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11.

I haven’t actually done this yet, but I really want to check out the Ninja Warrior gym in North Miami. Since the uprising of the TV show (American Ninja Warrior), apparently these gyms have been popping up all over the country and are super popular… and I can see why! Not only is it challenging and and awesome functional workout, but looks like so much fun!!

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12.

And after a healthy week, let your hair down over a beautiful brunch and a drink or five at Sea Spice in North Miami. It’s a casual affair with a very upmarket crowd, amazing views overlooking the water and even better music. SO much fun and goes on until late. You can get an Uber here from South Beach for not much more than $10.

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I’ll be hanging out here for a little while longer, so if you have any other suggestions I would love to hear and go check them out! Let me know 

Avril

Work Smarter Not Harder

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In mid-2014 a few little unanswered health problems prompted me to go and see a naturopath. After getting to know a little about my self and lifestyle it was her diagnosis that the root of my problems was most likely just due to stress. When she suggested it, I laughed inside my head. I mean, my life is hardly stressful… I am healthy, fit, have supportive people around me, a successful business, I travel lots and generally have it pretty good. Of course life comes with its problems, and I’ve had my fair share of “down days”, but I try to always be positive just keep on trudging through. But on further questioning, she was quite certain that this was it. She asked me if I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the amount of things I thought I had to do and felt like I could never get everything done? On that, she had me nailed… this was me all over. But I had never considered it as “stress” before, I just told myself I wasn’t productive enough, and tried to work harder. Apparently this is the first part of chronic stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression, a road I definitely did not want to go down.

So here’s a few tips I implemented throughout 2015 that changed my life and actually saw me start achieving my goals:

– Write down your goals in order of priority. Not that I’m generally one for New Years resolutions, but New Years Eve 2014/15 saw me laying by a pool in Vietnam with my manager and she was writing down her goals for the coming year… so I thought I’d do the same. It was then I realized that there were waaayy too many things on that list, and most of them had been on there for at least a year or 2 already. I needed to prioritize them and even let some go, at least until I had completed some of the more important ones.

– Realize that you can’t do everything well at once. I was never going to be the standard of boxer or DJ that I knew I could be with the limited time I was able to commit, I generally didn’t have the time to take on bigger, interstate modeling assignments, and I was never going to get my other business projects completed with my time and headspace being so cluttered… and while running my WickedBodz Fitness Centre at the same time. Something had to give if I wanted to be successful at ANY of these things. It was hard to make the decision not to compete in boxing last year or to pursue other potentially lucrative offers BUT, using the some of the other tips below, I was able to learn to “work smarter, not harder” at WickedBodz; giving me the time to finally complete BodyBAM (my online fitness program launching in Feb), and create Mathie Athletic, my luxe women’s fitness wear line that will launch this week!! And now that those two things are finally ticked off my list, I actually have the time to properly commit to boxing, modeling and my music in 2016. You will have far more success putting 100% into everything you do if it means doing one thing at a time, than 90% into a bunch of things… 90% is not enough when your competition is putting in 100%.

– Make a list of everything you think you need to do. I do this in the Notes of my iPhone; I’ve had a never-ending list for the past 7 years. Take each thing off that list and categorize it into…

  • A’s: things that absolutely MUST get done asap, no question
  • B’s: things that need to be done, but that are not urgent.
  • C’s: things that you should and would like to do, but if you didn’t the world is not going to fall apart.

Within the list of A’s, make the things of highest priority A1’s. Also make the things you have been avoiding/hate doing A1’s. These get done first.

You will never get to your C’s. I almost never even get to my B’s! Unless they eventually became important enough to become A’s they just don’t get done. I used to think this was such a disorganized way of thinking and living, and wonder how one could ever get ahead in life with this attitude! But the funny thing is that the past year I have felt more productive than ever, and yeah I still have my stressful days now and again, but it’s not constant. Because without even realising, you will always MAKE time for the things that excite you and that you want to do.

Every few weeks or months I scroll to the bottom of my to-do list where the B’s and C’s are, and most often I find the B’s have either already been done (they must have become A’s at some point) or are still just B’s and that’s FINE. I usually find the C’s are now irrelevant and never really even needed to be done. Seeing this made me aware of how many unimportant things I had been trying to squeeze into my day that important things (things I didn’t want to do) were falling by the wayside and causing me more unnecessary stress down the track. Now that I don’t waste whole days doing God knows what, I can actually get to the bottom of my (A) list and have time to do FUN things!

– Use your “thinking hats”. Allocate and schedule set times each week to do certain types of activities (and only them), and try to avoid doing more than 3-5 different activities in one day. Different types of jobs/activities use different parts of our brain and require different ways of thinking. eg. Doing the accounting uses a different head space to training clients, which uses a different head space to designing, which is different to marketing, answering emails, socializing with friends etc.

So you can imagine if the activities of your day required you to be jumping back and forth from one “thinking hat” to 10 others, you’re going to be pretty mentally exhausted by the end… exactly how I was feeling. Even though my workload wasn’t as huge as some, it was just poorly structured and was overloading my brain. Sometimes I’d feel like I was sitting there staring at a wall for 20 minutes, getting distracted by anything and everything before I could even focus on the job at hand.

– Make time each day for yourself/self reflection. Some call it meditation. Even if its just 15 minutes, reminding yourself of your goals, envisioning where you see yourself in 5 years and taking the time to acknowledge what you have already achieved so far is SO important to staying on track.

– Have something to look forward to each day. This is the fantastic advice of my best friend Veronika (follow her on IG @veronikalarisova) who is the most productive and inspiring person I think I have ever met. Whether it’s a personal training session, a lunch with friends or whatever; knowing you have something you really enjoy on the cards for the day helps to motivate you to get out of bed in the morning and push through the other “less fun” parts of the day. Fun things make us relax, and when we are relaxed we can delve deeper into the layers of our brain, right down to deep in the subconscious where we are most creative and PRODUCTIVE.

If I have to finish by highlighting the point that I find most important, it would be to make sure you do something fun everyday – comical considering this post is about being more productive and working, but as a workaholic, that’s my hot tip! 😉

Avril