The perfect body and social media

Probably crossing the controversial line again today, but I think it needs to be done.

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How many of us follow people on Instagram that we are jealous of? Their hair, their legs, their face, their money, their insanely low body fat, their car, their dog, their toe nails.. You know where I’m going with this. Now, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of inspiration, but you can’t deny that if you’re having a bad day, and you’re constantly bombarded with pictures of seemingly perfect people with perfect lives, it’s not going to do anything but put you down.
I’ve told you before that to boost my self-esteem, I unfollowed people that made me compare myself to them, and only followed people with positive inspiration. However, lately my feed has somehow become this vicious circle of people who appear to be perfect. Add that to a 13-hour working day, not having worn makeup in weeks, yet again eating breakfast in the gym changing rooms, body fat slightly higher than what it used to be, and yet another day of wearing gym clothes and a hoody, – and voilá, one depressed Marita.
It is SO easy to put yourself down, based on what you see other people do. When I was younger, I’d always argue with my mom and say that it was unfair that I wasn’t allowed to do whatever, because “everyone else was doing it”. My mom would say “but we are not everyone else.” And she’s right, we are not everyone else. We all have different struggles, different lives and different priorities, but we need to understand that not everything we see online is the truth.
Let me show you an example.

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These pictures are taken on the same day, however in one, I dare say it pretty much looks like I have an eating disorder. We choose the way we want other people to view us, and let’s be honest – if I posted that picture on any social media, everyone would be on my back. But that’s not what I look like every day. I have a normal body, I exercise 6 days a week, my body fat might be a bit lower than others, I might eat healthier than most – but I am not sick, and I don’t want people to associate me with a negative thing.
Victoria’s Secret recently published an ad featuring their airbrushed angels, titled “The Perfect Body”. What kind of a signal does that send to the rest of the girls in this world? That ad has nothing but one body type, suggesting that that is what we should all strive to look like! There is so much more to this life, than being skinny. Being healthy is what we should strive for, not looking a certain way.

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We need to understand that the way other people choose to present themselves, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the way their life really is. You know those girls on Instagram with perfect lives and perfect bodies, and their 100 000 followers? They’ve made their body into their living. They are basically paid to look like that. So are models. And fitness girls. Great for them, and great for us if we can get inspired to stay healthy from that. But we need to be weary of it becoming an obsession.

I guess my point is, it is easy to pretend online. Good lighting, whether you take the picture when you get out of bed, after a workout, or after dinner, makes a massive difference, and let’s not forget – genetics plays a huge role in where you store fat. Hard work pays off, there is nothing wrong with trying to inspire, or getting inspired. But please don’t believe everything you see online. It has a tendency of getting to your head.

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The different phases of exercise

I haven’t always enjoyed exercise. Always been active, yes, but let’s just realize that it took solid work to get to the point of wanting to exercise.

Everyone else is doing it

Growing up I did figure skating (and attempted a rather poor soccer career – only went for the post-training ice-cream), but when my knee set a stopper to that, I had to start doing something else. Bring on the spin class, pilates and the 20 minute jogs around the block.

I did spin classes every friday after school because all my friends were doing it, and I absolutely hated it. Had to catch the bus back home, and to get to the bus, I had to walk past the grocery store. What did they have in the grocery store? 5 chocolate bars for $4. Did I eat all of them on the way home? Yes.

Signed up to do pilates every thursday night with my friends. Had to walk past a candy-shop on the way there, bought an entire bag of candy to eat in the car home, ’cause pilates burns sooooo many calories.

Then I decided I was going to become a runner. I used to tell the boys living around my house that I was going to go for a run. “Yeah riiight,” they’d slam in my face. So of course, I had to go. Turns out, running was really hard, and keeping a consistent pace so that it would look like I was running when I went past their house was really hard. I also had to go past their house on the way back, so I had to make it look like I had gone very far, and had to be gone for a while. Did they ever really notice that I was out running? No.

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I want to impress

Moved away to do the IB diploma, met people who went to the gym wearing LEGGINGS. Up until then I had been wearing big Manchester United t-shirts and sweatpants. I thought leggings was extremely weird. But then peer pressure got me, and I (that be my parents) invested in a pair of leggings that I used to wear, aiming to burn 100 calories on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes of ab-exercises and maybe a bicep curl or two.

Squats with a medicine-ball in the back left me sore for an entire week, but the trainer I had told me doing them 3 times  a week would make me look hot. Potentially also did a group class of yoga. Made sure I looked reasonably good going to the gym, wore makeup, brushed my hair. You know. Spent a fair amount of time staring at the fit guys a couple of years above me training in the same gym. Followed up the MASSIVE GYM SESSION by either baking a cake, or buying cake at school. Still attempted going for runs past hot guys’s house, or said yes to going for runs with my ATHLETE friends – always a bad idea.

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Fanatic

Moved back home to have a gap year. Still oblivious to the fact that diet plays a huge role in losing weight, and nibbled on candy and cakes at work, despite eating fairly healthy meals. Got a car, joined the local gym. They had a list up saying who had been to the gym the most each month, and I made it my goal to get my name up there.

Was still a big fan of numerous ab-exercises, but slowly got the interest in compound exercises using more than one muscle group at once. Read somewhere that intervals were the way to burn fat, and started running them every other day. This is also when I got interested in split-programs. It took a few months, and my name was up on the list. Still obsessed with wanting to look hot, I decided I wanted to be on the top of that list, i.e being the one with the most visits. Christmas came around, and guess who’s name was first? Yeah that was mine. Big mistake, because now I had to keep it up there. Pretty much went to the gym every day, however despite getting stronger/fitter, my diet was out of whack and I had no idea what I was doing. Spent most of my weekends being stupidly drunk in a club.

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New conditions

Moving to Australia was a big step in my life, and I was determined to keep my fitness level up. Let’s just say that I spent the first 3 weeks being drunk and eating crap food, and when I went for my first run it almost killed me. Probably spent most of my first year here swimming in alcohol, to be honest. I did still exercise as much as I could, but the focus was still on looking good. Joined a new gym full of massive bodybuilder guys, tried to impress them and voilá, tore something in my lower back (that is still affecting my exercise today massively, lesson learnt). After a bit of money thrown at the physio, I decided I was sick of feeling shit about my own body.

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Lifestyle-change

And here we go, my favourite part of the journey. I changed my diet, was still obsessed with going to the gym, but started noticing how different the body reacted to various types of good and bad food. It’s been a struggle, and what really started with yet another quest to impress someone has now turned into my career.

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I used to laugh at those people saying exercise gave them more energy. I would even argue, “but you are exhausted after exercise, it drains you.” But now I understand. Exercise gets you through the week, it gives you something to focus on when you are tired, and it gives you motivation to master something new. I still hate spin-classes, but I’m open to trying one. Having worked my ass off trying to make a living as well as studying full-time, exercising hasn’t always been easy to fit in, or even been a thing I’ve wanted to do. But I’ve still maintained 6 sessions a week.

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And now that I’m done studying and spend some time in an office, in front of a computer? My back KILLS. No wonder office-rats out there have back problems! But guess what, I leave the office, drive to the gym (or park), thinking about how my back aches and how I really only want to go to bed, but then I get to the gym, start exercising, and the back pain is gone. Exercise has become something that I need to keep my body going, it clears my mind, and I ALWAYS feel better after. Even if I don’t come home drenched in sweat.

I use food to nourish my body. So that it can live a 15-hour working day. So that it can recover after a gym session. So that I can get up at 5 every morning and not wear makeup, because my skin still looks fine. So that my body can recover quicker when I’m going to need another knee surgery. It’s no longer all about looking good, it’s about feeling good. And I really hope you all get to experience that one day. Exercise and nutrition is medicine, start healing your body the right way.

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Ps. Sorry that it’s been an entire semester. Turns out that working 3 jobs and finishing your last semester of your degree takes up a bit of time.

Well, what do you even know about that?

Ah, the amount of times I hear this whenever I talk to people who think I was just magically born fit.

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Newsflash, I wasn’t. Even though I have never been severely overweight, I sure know what it is like to try completing a run with 15 kg extra on my body. I know what it is like to crave something so bad that all you do is constantly look at the cupboard where you know it is hidden. And I for sure know what it is like to throw up of exhaustion after a workout session, struggle with every single thing in the gym, and feel like you are getting nowhere.

The treadmill has been my worst enemy for years. When I decided to go to the gym every day at the age of 19, I remember I told my personal trainer then that I absolutely hated the treadmill, and would never use it. It still has its limitations in my world, but he helped me find a way to efficiently use it to get it over and done with as quickly as possible. I was once also one of those ‘I don’t want to become big and bulky’ kind of girls, who wouldn’t do weight and relied on pilates followed by a bag of candy. Yeah, that didn’t work either.

I know what it is like to mentally argue with yourself to not eat that chocolate bar until it is Saturday, and I know what it is like to make excuses to stay on the couch instead of going for a walk or going to the gym. I can still remember how I, in high school, hated the feeling of putting the gym clothes I’d been carrying around all day on, to exercise, when I’d rather be at home watching Home and Away (yes, guilty pleasure right there), and I can remember the frustration of not seeing the number on the scale drop.

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‘It’s too hard to count calories, I wish I just knew everything like you do’. I don’t. Well, I didn’t. I spent a few months tracking the food I ate, estimating the amount of nutrients in various types of food, and learning how much I can eat of one good thing compared to how little I can eat of a bad thing. It just has to be done. I don’t count calories anymore, I don’t track my fat or carbs, and I don’t religiously control what I eat. But for a while, you might have to do that. It’s a learning process, and you need to trust that process. Trust that it works. The only thing I attempt to track is my meal frequency, my protein intake, and I always make sure I drink enough and eat enough fruit and vegetables. Every meal, every day. My favorite thing when I’m hungover is actually an apple. And then ice cream (but let’s not talk about that now).

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‘It’s hard to eat 4 healthy meals a day’. Excuses, excuses and more excuses. It is only as hard as you make it. Sometimes I cook my meals for the next day at 10.30 pm, whilst I’m so tired I could fall asleep in the frying pan – you need to make it important. Prioritize. Even if some of my meals literally consist of random vegetables and eggs in a box, it is still food. And you can’t always expect to eat gourmet meals on the run. Nutrition is important, no matter what it looks like.

My point here is, that I’ve struggled too. I’ve been annoyed, frustrated (still happens actually, true story), upset (yeah, we all know that story about how I cried when I’d gained 2 kg…), and I’ve argued with pretty much everyone about my way of eating and exercising. I’ve drowned in sweat, I’ve failed at eating the right food, had candy on a tuesday for lunch, injured myself a ridiculous amount of times, struggled to get up in the morning, tried quick-fixes, gone for runs with guys who run 50 times faster than me, I’ve been convinced that sit-ups were the right way to get abs, I’ve starved myself, I’ve overeaten, I’ve not listened, I’ve felt critiqued, and I’ve hit the wall because I haven’t listened to my body.

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But from all this, I’ve learnt to be healthy, happy and confident.

I have people say they want to look like me, and it is so important to emphasize that this has taken me a few years. My body fat didn’t just drop in a month, it has solidly been dropping a couple of percent every 6 weeks for over a year and a half. I’ve lost about 2kg or less every 6 weeks.  I’ve consistently increased my fitness level, and I’ve worked hard. In fact, I’m still working. There are still thousands of things I don’t know, which is why, even I, branch out for help. I still get so sore I can’t walk properly, I still look at myself in the mirror and see the same person I saw 2 years ago, I still die running intervals, and I still doubt myself from time to time, but I also know that I’m doing something right, I’ve never felt this healthy. Ever.

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When my clients tell me about nasty comments from boys, or negative friends who will try to put them down for trying to change their lifestyle, I can always relate. People don’t like it when other people do it better, or when other people try to change. Particularly if it means changing into the healthy gears, and not drinking alcohol every weekend, followed by a midnight-snack at McDonalds and a Sunday junk food binge. (The whole, ‘you have to live a little too’ tends to float around quite a bit).

And they for sure don’t like it when they see that the determination and hard work is starting to pay off. Particularly not if they know that whilst you have been out there working your ass off and making healthy decisions to get the results you want, they have been lazy, making excuses for themselves not to do it. Trust me, you’re better off ignoring those people. You don’t push your banana in their face, why should they push their crap food in your face?

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Ps. I had a ‘bad’ pizza (for the first time in several months), ice cream AND chocolate this weekend, and you know what, I haven’t put all that weight back on, indulges now and then are fine. Things take time to build up, and it takes time to break it down. That’s why we start building the summer body after summer, not right before summer.

 

The difference between succeeding and failing

Warning; similarly to when I posted an entry about Australian guys, this entry might offend someone. Please remember that I’m often sarcastic, and don’t take everything I say deadly serious.

When it comes to being healthy, working out, and meeting our goals, some work hard and get results thereafter, others look for shortcuts, and see minimal results.

The difference between the one getting the results and the one barely getting results is that the ones with results never lie to themselves. They know if they’ve been eating bad or skipped a gym session, and will make further choices based on that decision.

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If a person getting results is out and about, and forgot to bring a snack/food, he/she will not go to the nearest fast-food joint to buy food, he/she will instead head to the nearest supermarket/health food shop/fruit shop to stock up on bananas, nuts, and other nutritious snacks. There is never an excuse for making poor food choices!

You will see a person getting results eating this

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not this

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when in need of a snack during the day.

Someone seeing results will find a way to buckle the cravings, i.e make dessert healthy, and therefore eat dessert every day. This person is also likely to have one bad treat now and then, because they know that one bad meal once in a while won’t hurt them. Treats 4 times a week, on the other hand, will.

A person with results will go for a run even when the legs feel like heavy blocks, just because it is Monday and Monday is the day to run. If the weather is bad, this person will find a way around it. There is never an excuse to skip exercise!

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The very same person is also likely to go for walks, happily take the stairs, and pay attention to the choices they make during one day. He/she will not make poor choices in the supermarket

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and will not eat a protein bar of 400 calories and a Boost smoothie packed with sugar and more calories than a normal dinner, after their workout, even if they want to. He/she will know that a banana and a proper meal is more than sufficient, and be satisfied knowing that they are nourishing their body properly.

He/she will also know that the fewer ingredients a product has, the better it is for you. And that the first ingredient on the list is what the product contains the most of.

It will be common knowledge that sugar, gluten, yeast and sodium are products we should try to refrain from to a greater extent, and that eating enough of the right food is important to be able to stay away from the bad food.

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The dedicated type of person, is also the kind of person to see results. My housemate has ankylosing spondylitis, in other words a chronic form (meaning she’s stuck with it for the rest of her life) of arthritis causing inflammation in the joint that joins the hip and the spine. She went from being super active to stuck in a hospital bed in no time, but is slowly learning to function again. Despite being very limited in terms of what she can do, she gets up at 5 every morning, rides her bike for 20 min to the gym, to either do rehab and stretch, go in the pool or do the limited amount of weights she is allowed to. If she can, so can you. 

A person with results will know his/her limitations. He/she will understand when to suck it up, and when to stay at home in bed. The rule is; if it hurts from the chest and down – stay at home, if not – sweat it out in the gym.

The person getting results will be ‘cheating’ with the food the person not getting results is eating on a daily basis. Your daily toast and bowl of pasta is my guilty pleasure once a month.

The successful person will know that dedicating time in the gym is only the start. Anything is always better than nothing, but the results most people want are not going to come unless a proper diet is acquired. Why waste your time on endless hours in the gym, only to come home and eat food that your body can’t use to rebuild what you just broke down?

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The person getting results will, however, also be the one understanding that everything has to be balanced. He/she will understand that it is all about the lifestyle change, not a quick fix or a temporary diet, that it is a journey in which he/she will fail, but learn from those mistakes and keep going. He/she will find a way to be healthy, get fit, but also ‘live’ their life. It’s never all or nothing, it’s about finding the way that works for you.

Somewhere only we know

Thought I’d just show you why I love my job, and why I don’t mind 13 hour working days anymore. Getting up at 5 is all worth it when you get people like this to hang out with.

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Or when you have clients who swear at you for an entire hour, yet hug you and laugh at you as soon as the session is over. It’s for sure nothing like spending 13 hours in a supermarket, time flies!

Anyway, my lack of motivation has turned into a slight motivation again. A beach-weekend away and a killer hill-sprint session was all I needed.

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And should you wonder what a face in pain looks like after 10 competitive sprints with someone who beats you even when he let’s you get a head-start, let me enlighten you

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That was monday, my legs are still very much in pain. In fact, I have to physically move them with my hands when I sit down and want to get anywhere. Tough life.

I’m lucky if I burn between 300-500 calories during a 1hr session with myself, but these sprints…. a 7 minute light warm-up jog and 10 hill-sprints aka 25 minutes all together smashed out 400 calories all by themselves. I guess I’ve realized that I work a lot harder around people that I either want to impress or people that I respect because they are better than me.

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Also had a proper body composition scan done, and I guess I should give myself a tap on the shoulder because I am way above average. Low fat, muscular body type, well hydrated, protein and mineral levels are optimal and my biological age turned out to be 20. All this has now given me motivation to keep improving my body, work on all the…inaccuracies that I know I walk around with, and fill out the low body fat with strong muscles.

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On another note

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No one has time. Ever. There’s so much other stuff that people tend to prioritize, but why would you not prioritize your health? You’re stuck with your body forever, and you might as well make the effort to make it the best version it can be. Imagine ten years from now, when that back-pain has worsened, when your spine is twisted because you didn’t strengthen your core and you walk around with headaches all day because the past ten years you’ve been sitting in front of your computer, your TV and your Xbox, eating crap, processed food because that’s where your comfort zone is found. MAKE THE DAMN TIME. I work at least 20-25 hours a week, I’m in the last year of my degree – and if I can make time, if Barrack Obama can make time – then so can you. Get out of that comfort zone.

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photo 2 (6)And for God’s sake – eat the right food. Stop poisoning your body. I’ve forced the boyfriend and my housemate to join my 8 week health-kick. No more frozen yoghurt every weekend no matter how sugar-free and dairy-free it is. Pick one bad habit that you have, and get rid of it for the next 8 weeks.

 

 

 

 

No one has time, we make time

If anyone is wondering how that post-Christmas workout deal was working for me the first couple of weeks..IMG_5653

Yeah, I struggled. But it’s a matter of making it a routine. I know Monday means intervals, so I put my shoes on and I do it. I know Wednesday means high-rep leg day, and no matter when I have clients that day, I make sure I get it done. If Beyonce has 24 packed hours and manages to get a workout in, then so can I. We all get the same 24 hours, we just have to MAKE THE TIME.

IMG_5680Death on the way out of the gym after leg-day.

Melbourne has been fortunate enough to have a couple of heat waves, and there’s not any other place to be than the beach or directly under the aircon. When I was little, going to the beach typically meant getting ice-cream and mom bringing snacks – and I still associate the beach with that. But, considering that I will spend the entire day at the beach every day if I get the chance, that  can’t happen. Chopping up vegetables and putting it in a box isn’t hard, which means eating healthy on the go isn’t hard either. Planning, planning and more planning.

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I’ve also been practicing making rice paper rolls, let’s just say.. I’m no pro.

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The past week has been spent at work. 12 hours. Pretty much every day. Does that stop me from exercising? No. Does that stop me from eating healthy? No. Okay, so it might help that my job is to spend time in a gym – but, I still have to make the effort and actually make time for the workout. Let me just tell you right now that exercising doesn’t exactly appeal all the time when you’ve been on your feet all day, forcing other people to push through a workout. And I’m surrounded by heaps of restaurants, but I still choose to prepare my own food and bring it – that way I know what I’m eating, and I’m saving money.

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I also happen to have a fully booked week coming up with early morning workouts, work induction in the middle of nowhere, and clients at night. Which means I will be roasting vegetables and baking power cookies (oats, banana, nuts, seeds, peanut butter and egg) to simply bring along. It doesn’t get easier.

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We went away last weekend, and managed to put in a bit of incidental activity. Exercise doesn’t always have to be about going to the gym and doing bicep curls – sometimes all it takes is a little bit of fun.

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Today is Australia day, and I wish I was out getting blind with everyone else (going on sober for over a month right now – jeez) in the perfect summer heat, but some Norwegians actually has to be responsible and get organized in terms of work. Our apartment turns into a sauna even with the aircon on, so I’ve made myself a smoothie bowl and I’m enjoying my own company. The tan I’ve built up is for sure gradually disappearing.

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Okay, another rambling blog post – but sometimes that’s all I’ve got. We made cauliflower crust pizza (you know you’ve got a good boyfriend lined up when he gets excited when you suggest cooking a pizza like that) this weekend, and just to mess up my original breakfast of oats and eggs, we combined it and made an.. oatmeal cake (and ate it before I took a picture).

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I’ve never been a person to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I decided to do it. No ‘I wanna lose weight’ or ‘I’m gonna eat healthy’ bullshit, you need to be more specific than that.

I’m going to improve my core strength. It’s terrible, and I hate working on it – which means I have to. Particularly after having played with the boyfriend and an ex-marine at work (find the video on Instagram), I’ve got nothing on them, and I really wanna look cool in the gym too. I’m also going to start incorporating using the TRX into some of my workouts, as that requires you to constantly stabilize your core.

No shopping of gym clothes until my birthday. I tend to justify hanging out at the Nike shop a little bit too much, and I just have to realize that I’m broke, and that if I want to do all the things I want to do this year, I have to be wise.

And lastly, foam rolling and trigger-pointing. I’ve had extreme head aches twice a week since I was about 12, and no one has found a solution to the problem – other than drugging me to sleep. I’m sick of taking painkillers, and I’m sick of headaches. Releasing toxins from the muscles by foam rolling and applying pressure to trigger points with that spiky yellow ball will hopefully be the solution. When it comes to foam rolling, frequency is more important than duration, so I’m trying to get it done no less than once a day, but preferable 2-3 times a day. It is probably the most painful thing I can think of.

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Also, if you’re still wondering why you should limit your sugar intake – read my article about it here.

And I’d like to congratulate my dad’s girlfriend’s daughter, Kristin, with a gold medal in the Battle of London Crossfit – let’s just say that you know you have a strong core when you can do this

New Year, New You?

You know you’ve been out of Norway a bit too long when you have to Google translate things from English to Norwegian when writing articles for your dad…

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Anyway. Happy New Year my dear little fitness freaks (and stalkers), a New Year – a new you, isn’t that what we all try to tell ourselves? I personally believe, that all you need is a new morning, to change whatever you’re not happy with, but now that we actually have 12 fresh months ahead of us, we might as well make the best of them, right?

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I’ve had a blast in Sydney, and whatever slight definition of abs I had before I left, is now gone. HOWEVER, I’m not crying. I know that all it will take is another two weeks of doing what I love to do, to get back to where I was before Christmas.Food has been left in charge of the hosts, but I have tried to keep some balance in there (if you ignore my day-long eating parties from Christmas Eve to..eh New Years Eve) and I’ve pretty much had oats and eggs every day, I’ve also aimed for my daily portions of fruit and chosen water, coconut water or a freshly squeezed juice (beetroot, apple, carrot, celery and ginger – get in me) over soda and wine (particularly after I discovered that Diet Coke contains the same chemical as that used to clean garbage bins..).

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There has been time for the occasional workout too, but I’ve spent plenty of time soaking the sun and laughing with my crazy fellow Norwegians. We should all remember that what matters is what you do for the rest of the year, not necessarily what you do for Christmas.

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As a result of putting my body through a lot of stress before Christmas, I have pretty much been sick ever since I left for Sydney. Eating food with sugar has for sure not helped my recovery, so I’ve said that there will be no cheats until I feel like myself again. This might, however, has happened yesterday when I was all by myself and very bored …..

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See, things don’t always go my way either. I did my first run of 2014 in Sydney, and it was bloody hard, I had to stop several times and my heart rate was abnormally high considering that I was running very slowly. I forced through a leg session Friday morning and even though I increased all my weights, I actually threw up before I left the gym because I had pushed my body too hard. Still sore from that leg session by the way. On Saturdays I always pick whatever exercises I like the most and do them without too much structure, and it’s usually fun, however this Saturday was a struggle and I left the gym drowned in sweat. New week, great start, I thought to myself this wonderful Monday morning. 30 minutes of 4×4 intervals, 15 minutes of core-exercises and 15 minutes of foam rolling later…

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HELL, is all I have to say. This is brutal. But I still do it. I love doing it. And I can’t wait to get back to where I was. Motivation is what gets you going, habit is what keeps you going. Make it a lifestyle, guys – all it takes is 4% of your day.