My Low Carb Diet Journey!

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness specialist and my diet is not the only way of dieting. This blog is purely a reflection of my own experience and what I do on a daily basis to stay healthy. 

If you’ve been following me since May, you’ll know that I set myself a daily diet challengeMy aim was to stay within a certain amount of calories and to track my nutrition everyday. Before I explain more about the ins and outs of my current diet, I’d like to share my overall progress so far… 

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-18 at 8.58.56 AMWhatsApp Image 2018-06-12 at 3.50.04 PM

On May 16th, I weighed 92.5kg (14.6 stones) and my body-fat percentage was at 23.8%. 25 days later (June 10th), my body-fat percentage is now at 20.9%. This was the result of a healthy diet and exercise routine. My fat mass reduced by 12% (fat tissue dropped from 22 to 17.9 kg). All in all, I lost 4.1 kg of body fat. It’s a really positive result for me because I’ve always struggled with my eating habits but sometimes you’ve got to start somewhere…

Transitioning into a lower Carb Diet

Before I talk about my diet. I want to explain what a low-carb diet means to me. From my experience, when I started, it was looking at my daily carb intake and reducing this number. 50 – 100g of carbs per a day is my ideal rate. Although, I also tried out a Ketogenic diet for 2 weeks which meant that I consumed 20g of net carbs. Net carbs are total carbs – total fibre. I will explain Keto shortly. It’s about making sure that I don’t have a carb surplus, a state when the body stores these excess carbs later on as fat.

 

How I burn fat….

To lose body fat, I’ve been keeping my calories below 1,500 a day (although calorie counting on a Ketogenic diet is slightly different). I include healthy fats within my meals. Chicken, salmon and tuna are really good nutritious dishes. Snacks-wise, I eat pecan nuts, avocado or almonds because they are natural, healthy sources of food with health benefits. 

I normally cook with olive oil or coconut oil as this is a better oil to cook with. I avoid rice or pasta, but if I do eat this, it’s normally brown rice or wholewheat pasta. I normally try and keep my plate green and include veggies like spinach, kale, spring onion, etc… I include low-carb fruits, such as avocado because it makes me feel more full and it has a range of benefits on the body.

Exercise is important too. Instead of waiting for a bus or a train, I normally walk to my designated location. I have a pedometer on my phone which tracks how many steps I’ve taken and tells me how many calories that I have burnt. Skipping is really good too because it burns fat all around the whole body. I also dance once a week which burns approximately 555 calories for 80 minutes.

 

I balance out the cardio with strength exercises within the gym. Some of the muscle training exercises that I practice are the following: sled push and pull workout, bench press and cable chest press. Sometimes, if I’m at home, I do push ups, abdominal crunches or leg lifts and this is because my initial focus was to reduce my belly fat. 

Trying out a Keto Diet

So many people have asked me what this is. It’s not simple to explain but I’ll try my best. A ketogenic diet is a diet that forces the body into a process called ketosis, whereby fats are burned instead of carbohydrates for use as energy. In order for the diet to work, you have to consume high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and very low amounts of carbohydrates. When you are on this diet, it is important to keep your carbs below 20g, otherwise it is not effective. So all in all, you eat mainly fat to burn fat. Sounds wierd right? But if you want to know more in detail, there are some useful guides all around the web. It focuses less on calories and more on the fat, protein and carb ratio.

What’s next for me?

I will keep monitoring my diet as it appears to be effective. I will keep exercising, even if it’s just going on a 20-minute walk or jogging for 10 minutes. I will probably do another blog post on my fitness in the near future so do keep a look out on my socials below.


 In the meantime, follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@markzfocus) to stay up to date with my blogs.

 

 

Why did I change my diet?

Picture2

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness specialist and my diet is not the only way of dieting. It also may not for you. This blog is purely a reflection of my own experience and what I do on a daily basis to stay healthy. 

Since the start of May, I decided to set up my own diet regime. I started this because I felt that I was being careless with my food choices.

Despite attempting to diet last year, I realised that I wasn’t monitoring things properly, such as calories, fats and carbs. The other day I even found out that my favourite pizza place, where I normally order a Pollo Pesto Pasta dish contains over 1,100 calories. It just goes to show how naive I was when it came to food. It was instances like these that made me realise that diet is the key to my fitness progress.

Pre-diet days, I had been going to the gym at least twice a week and had been making some good improvements. To be fair, I was good at being physically active and to give myself some credit, I have made a lot of progress in the gym in terms of muscle, fitness and personal confidence but I noticed that my body was still not reacting right to my food which is why I decided to make some changes… I would snack a lot (especially at night) and eat crisps and biscuits (the list is endless lol).

fruits at a market

I am now three weeks into my new diet. I am sticking to more salads. To get a more effective and quicker result, I’ve also cut out rice and pasta because I’m fine with salads and they go well with anything like chicken, beef and tuna… I normally also make my own Chicken soup (you can find the recipe >> here << you can also add more varieties of veg if you like) and it lasts for days.

I normally log my food every time I make a meal or eat out with MyFitnessPal (a fitness app) which registers all of your nutritional information and sets out a daily goal based on your target and the information you fill out at the beginning. It displays your calories and how much fat, sugar, salt and carbs your food has in it. I actually can’t believe it’s free because it has so many features such as a barcode scanner to save you typing the name of the dish and much more…

screenshot of my food diary

It’s nice to move away from online takeaways. I save so much money. and it is worth it in the long term. Moving away from takeaways has motivated me to cook more of my own food. It’s simpler, taste even better and I have control of what goes into my dishes. 

What am I doing to complement my diet?

At the moment, I have been taking part in Street Dance classes at my local arts centre. I normally dance for about an hour and half. Dancing is really good for me because it’s fun and entertaining and I burn calories at the same time. It’s also good for me because it is a form of cardio for the whole body. I really do love it and if you want to see more videos, then check it out on my instagram >> www.instagram.com/markzfocus 

I am also on a brand new training programme as I restarted sessions with my gym trainer. I train with a trainer again because I love learning new exercise routines especially as I have become more experienced at the gym more. I’ve learnt that I need more of a challenge and through this programme I am learning more and more routines which targets the areas of my body that needs it the most such as my abs and chest. 

I’m going to end this blog by saying that no-one’s perfect and just because I am on a diet, it doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. I hope it goes well for me. Wish me luck!

To keep up-to-date with how my fitness goes and to find out more about my journey, please follow my socials below.


 In the meantime, follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@markzfocus) to stay up to date with my blogs.

 

Life Tips I wish My Younger Self Knew…

My Top Life Tips

o2

~ Challenge your everyday routine.
Trying out new things is great because you can learn more about who you are and what you can really do. Plus it’s just great fun!

~ Don’t compare yourself to others.
This is a tricky one. No-one’s actually perfect (I mean who is?). Focus on yourself.

~ Distance yourself from things that aren’t great.
If something isn’t making you happy then you should move away from it.

~ Don’t be a “people’s pleaser”.
Invest your time and strength into things that build you.

~ Be true to yourself.
Being true to yourself is a gift. It means you can understand yourself better and people know will know where they stand in specific situations. 

~ Avoid procrastination.
Look at what is holding you back and try to change your cycle. It’s all about understanding your own needs.

~ Be inspired.
Inspiration is around us. Be aware of your environment and look for inspiration in new places.

~ Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Self-criticism is something that we have all done. Don’t take things out on yourself and deal with whatever it is in the best way possible.

~ Honesty is the best policy.
Being truthful helps you to anchor your identity and make sense of your own self.

…That is my last tip! I will explore these in more detail in a future post which will be up soon!

Let me know your thoughts below and thanks for reading.

Learning the “Art” of French.

20180201_224503.jpg

It’s safe to say that 2018 has inspired a lot of us in many ways. To do something new, or to explore something quite abstract or to do something out of the blue. I have so many goals at the moment but one of them is to learn French.

I would like to become more fluent in this language by summer time (or August 2018 😆) and so I’ve set myself a daily challenge to practice it as frequently as I can.

Random Fact: I studied French during secondary school for 2 years.

Learning a language is a whole lot of fun but it can be tricky at times. That goes for any task in life. It’s a combination of staying motivated and finding the best way to express your energy into a particular interest. I’ve been using resources online or books to practice my French. Seen as it’s a hobby, the learning process is quite stimulating especially as I’m rehashing on previous knowledge so I’m basically picking up from where I left…

How do I learn French?
I started to make an effort to learn it properly in mid-2017. I normally use apps such as Duolingo or Babbel to understand the basics. Phrases like ‘Hello’ (Bonjour or Salut), ‘How are you?’ (ça va) became an obvious starting point and from  there I’ve developed it more. I used Babbel because it integrates the conversation element into the learning activity. Duolingo is a good one too because it has a ‘quizzy’ type of feel to it and is quite relaxed; it’s also free to use. For Babbel however, there is a small charge / subscription fee to access most of their content however it does come with a large selection of resources which tracks your progress and in similar to Duolingo in that respect.

At the moment, my best method of learning French is by reading books or handouts. I am currently reading ‘French in three months’ (see the slideshow below). It was quite cheap and the book is well-structured and very easy to understand, it also comes with a CD (yay).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to books and apps, I started a French Short Course at UAL – University of the Arts London. It was the beginners Part 1 course. In a small classroom with a group of other beginners, we learnt the basics. I had never really understood the importance of conjugating the verbs and the rules on the gender of nouns. To put it simply, there are a lot of rules.

IMG_20180131_173706_487

The great thing about the course was that it takes influence from French culture and art so I am learning more than just a language.

As of yet, I haven’t mastered French yet but I’ve just started the Part 2 version of the course. I hope it will guide me more with the conversational side of French and to give me the confidence to understand and speak it more fluently.

I’ll probably track my French progress in a couple of months so do follow me on here if you want to know the end result and do wish me luck!!!

Now I will leave you with this throwback photo of my trip to Paris. Taken last summer on a boat trip as I was passed the Eiffel Tower. 

20170730_152935

Photo taken on my android Phone 🙂

Reflecting on 2016 – My first year blogging!

profile

Happy new year everyone! I hope everyone had a good year. 2016 was a time that represented my adventure as a Blogger! I had so much fun exploring things hence the name marcusexplores 😉 I must admit I did not know what blogging direction to go into this year – so my content over the year has been completely random!


hellooctober

Looking back… I can see how much I have improved with my blogging skills, communication and putting myself out on the blogging landscape.  It was a bit of a trial & error with getting there as I know not all of my posts were perfect as I have looked back at all of them. But at the same time, I have had a blast and think that I have created some amazing posts too. I have grown so much within 2016 and gained much more experience.

Events planning!

A memorable moment had to be for me had to be my account of LDNXY (Summer Jam) which celebrated the talents of young people in London. You can catch my full experience of the event on my other blog: www.marcusthecreativeblogger.wordpress.com. I was chosen to be part of a six week course where we visited music festivals and events around London. I believe that by taking part in this course it has motivated me to continue with the creative aspect of blogging.

I also got feedback on the course from experts and my fellow course mates on how to improve with my blogging. The potential was all there I just had to find it and I am still working on improving as I know that you get better with consistency. Focusing more on this particular event,it was a great success, with almost 300 people in attendance. My role was on the marketing team. You can catch a bit about what we were offering here >> LDNXY – Creative Summer Jam [Project]

IMG_20160719_142922.jpg

Recipes

I remember this year creating my recipe posts – most of which were inspired mostly by my own take on an original recipes and I also remember one being a family soup recipe which always goes down well in this time of the year. Check it out here >> How to make a healthy Pumpkin Chicken noodle soup…

Can we also just take a moment to realise how great these Brownies turned out! They were really quick and simple to make and tasted amazing.Who doesn’t like a brownie?

DSCN0370

My more recent blog posts explore some of the projects that I was involved in during 2016. I helped with the social media /marketing for The Swarm, an immersive bee opera about honey bee swarms.This project was so enjoyable and all the London dates were sold out. Good news! There will be more shows in 2017 of The Swarm. Yes. They are going to perform again. I can’t wait to help again as it was a fun project to be a part of. Don’t miss The Swarm in February!

The Swarm flyer.jpg

I also did a couple of vlogs which are available on my blog. I was going to post weekly vlogs but due to timing and also priorities I don’t know whether I’ll have time to continue this. I want to focus more on blogging more and expanding Marcusexplores further. However, I think it’d be nice to post an update vlog every now and then and definitely will use YouTube more in the future.

Future blogging plans!

I  have become more clear of what direction to take in my blogging . As I have a passion for music and anyone that knows me or read my blog knows that I am a lover of creative things!

I am pleased to announce that I will be transforming my blog mainly into a music-related blog! I am always listening to music and love to discover what the next big song of the year is or who the next big star is. So it wasn’t too difficult to think what to do with my blog next…

I am also going to change the layout of my blog, and lots more… So stay tuned for when I make my first post of 2017!

I’d like to thank everyone that has supported me on my blogging journey so far as it has truly motivated me and can’t wait to continue blogging 2017.


Make sure that you connect with me on social media to keep up to date with my blogging ventures.

INSTAGRAM >> www.instagram.com/markzfocus
TWITTER >> www.twitter.com/markzfocus & www.twitter.com/marcusexplores

22 things I have learnt in life

22-1

I did a quick Google search and “22 is the most powerful of all numbers” – So I guess I am quite curious as to what this number means to me. It’s also my birthday today (22 Dec) so I am sharing  22 things that I have learnt so far in 22 of being alive. It’s quite self-reflective… Have a look:

  1. No-one knows you better than yourself.
  2. It’s important to live in the present.
  3. Each day or week I learn something new!
  4. Best to be real.
  5. I am little obsessed with clothes!
  6. Blogging has changed my life.
  7. Good food & cooking makes the world a much better place (lol).
  8. Nobody is perfect!
  9. It’s okay to be quiet sometimes!
  10. My self-belief has made me stronger.
  11. Challenges can stretch your mind for the better.
  12. Negativity is a form of procrastination.
  13. Life is full of surprises.
  14. Can’t cope without music.
  15. I am calm – most if not all the time.
  16. Words are powerful.
  17. Effort is worth the outcome
  18. There is so much to explore in this world..
  19. I get along with everybody.
  20. The buzz I get from music events is unbelievable.
  21. I have made some great friends this year.
  22. Time is precious.

First week at Shape!

IMG_20161010_180132[1].jpg

Image: First day at Shape Arts.

Super excited to kick off my role at Shape Art as a marketing intern.  If you don’t know who Shape Arts are I’ll explain but firstly…

A big congratulations to Shape as they recently turned the big four zero. 40 years of breaking barriers as a disability led arts organisation..

Now you are probably wondering who are Shape?

I describe Shape as a disability led arts organisation that allow for more diversity & opportunities for disabled artists or creatives pursuing work in the creative field. Interesting fact: they also work with other many organisations to create better inclusiveness e.g. by delivering training and resources – some of which can be found on their website http://www.shapearts.org.uk

Now onto my first week…

AT SHAPE.png

first week at shape

Shape are based in a studio at Deane House Studios (see very first image) and have quite the team.

At the office, on my first day, I  got introduced to the whole team. Lulu who is Shape’s marketing & PR manager took me on a tour around the studio getting to know everyone’s role. I also got some training on the social model of disability by Andrew & Lulu.

In the first week of Shape I did quite a bit of travelling  – attending the Shape events. The Away Day was a great way for me to introduce myself & get a further understanding about Shape and their partner organisation Arts Admin (who focus on artist development) with the Unlimited arts commissioning programme. From this meeting we built on our goals through team-building exercises. Short term – long term goals of how to progress especially with communications & sustainability. Some recommended having more regular face to face meetings with each other.

Outside of events, I worked at the office: giving the social, website, & events a push. Yazmin, the previous intern, gave me an overview of how things are done. Of course, when you are new to an organisation you tend to pick things up as you learn.

We also announced artwork/print by artist Jack Haslam for future events. Then, there was a blog to be put out about the Adam Reynolds Bursary winner so it’s been a busy week!

shape.png

Print by one of artist

Look out for more similar posts in the future. I will also be posting surprise posts, interviews & collaborations….

Leave a comment if you have anything to say. Thanks for reading!Untitled design (6)