Cherry and Cinnamon Baked Oats

Hi I’m Charlotte and I’m an oats addict!

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Sundays are my rest days and my high carb/refeed days so I always take my time over my precious oats. This Sunday I decided to try making baked oats. I’ve seen baked oats all over instagram but have never tried making them before so I thought why not today! I didn’t follow a recipe, I just tried it my own way and my god they were good! Now you can make them too!

 

Ingredients:

  • Cherries- fresh or frozen
  • 50g oats
  • 20g chia seeds
  • 400-500ml Unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 medium courgette grated
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more depending on preference)
  • Optional- 1 tablespoon coconut flour

Method:

  1. To be completed the night before:
    1. Mix together the oats, milk, chia seeds, courgette and cinnamon
    2. chill in the fridge overnight
  2. Preheat oven to 180-200 degrees C
  3. Mix in protein powder, baking powder and optional coconut flour to the overnight oats- consistency should be thick
  4. Line your oven safe dish with cherries
  5. Pour oats mixture on top
  6. Press more cherries into the oats
  7. Top with a sprinkle of loose oats to toast on top
  8. Bake for approx 30mins (the longer you bake, the thicker and more ‘cake’ they will be)

 

Oh my goodness, these oats were incredible! Actually incredible! img_8304img_8308img_8327

Let me know how you get on making them!

Love Char xxx

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Why I shouldn’t be your #bodygoals

As a health and fitness blogger I try and keep to a rounded selection of content from food, to supplements, to training, to recipes, to my body…. At the moment it has been VERY competition prep based. Why? Well that’s my life right now I am 5 weeks out from my next competition, surrounded by others on prep and if I don’t make it my life and throw everything into it, there’s no real point in doing it. I’m very all or nothing and if I get relaxed about my prep, well it’s self explanatory, the results won’t come!

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So why shouldn’t you want your body to look like mine?

My body is sitting at around 10% body fat and I’m 55kg- that means that of my entire body only about 5.5kg of that is fat. It is recommended that women shouldn’t have a body fat percentage lower than 10% as that is the lowest necessary level for normal body function. But let’s take a moment to remember that I am in prep for a purely aesthetics based competition and to be a serious contender I need those lower levels of body fat. A normal healthy woman shouldn’t really be striving for this level of body fat.

It can happen at different levels of body fat for different girls BUT I have now stopped having my period. This is just one example of how my body is dealing with what is being thrown at it. At first when it happened for a couple of months I started taking pregnancy tests because of the paranoid person that I am even though I knew it was impossible for that to be the answer, given where my romantic status is right now… (You catch my drift- oh hey immaculate conception…)

After this competition I am looking to take a year until I compete again for a couple of reasons:

• my body needs a break and to work its way back to a healthy state of internal homeostasis

• I want to build more muscle and if I’m constantly cutting and in a calorie deficit then that cannot happen

So while I LOVE competing and competition prep, if I want to keep doing it for quite some time I need to be sensible and strategic about it.

I post progress pictures and flexed six pack pictures because I’m proud of myself. I am proud of what I am achieving, the progress I’m making and how I’m getting on in my competition prep. Whilst I am super proud of myself this doesn’t mean you should want my abs, or my new found back muscles and pecs.

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So if I don’t want to inspire you with my body, how do I want to be inspiring you?

I would love you to be inspired by my positive outlook on life, my attitude towards goal setting and smashing those goals, my ideals of uplifting people and supporting each other even if they are your competition and if I can have this attitude in life, you can too!

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After my competition I will be progressively gaining some more body fat to a healthy and maintainable level and maybe once I’m there, my body could inspire you to get that butt in the gym. But for now I shouldn’t be your body inspiration.

If I can inspire you to make healthy changes and life choices, encourage some more body confidence and self love then I will be one happy bunny.

Please just remember I am prepping for a bodybuilding bikini competition that is purely aesthetics based and only maintainable for a short period of time.

Big love Char xxx

Chocolate Orange Mocha Zoats with Little’s

This has to be one of my favourite oaty recipes to date!

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Currently on my competition prep, I get porridge/oats twice a week so I like to make the most of them and spend time over them.

Let’s cut to the chase, here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 50g oats- I used 30g Jordan’s Chunky Jumbo Oats and 20g Quaker rolled oats
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Protein- I used Sun Warrior
  • 1 medium Courgette grated  (optional)
  • 10g chia seeds
  • Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk – I use around 300ml
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder- Game changer!!
  • 1 tsp Little’s Chocolate Orange Coffee
  • Optional Squeeze of a fresh orange
  • Topped with 40g Vanilla Coyo- optional

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Method:

  1. Pour oats, baking powder and milk into a saucepan
  2. Cook on medium until soft and fluffy
  3. Optional- add courgette
  4. Continue to cook and stir
  5. Add in protein powder, coffee and chia seeds
  6. May need to add more milk- I like might less thick
  7. Add orange juice and stir – if using
  8. Take off of the heat and leave to settle for two minutes
  9. Pour into your favourite bowl
  10. Top with yoghurt or anything your heart may desire!

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These are SO tasty!

Why courgette and baking powder?

They both work to make the bowl bigger…. I am ALL about volume. Like I said, I only get oats twice a week so I will do anything I can to make them last as long as possible!

What are your favourite go-to Sunday breakfasts?

 

Love Char x

Making Prep Creative 

Gooooood afternoon you wonderful lot!

Now, if you aren’t IIFYM and you have a repetitive diet on competition prep, it can be very easy to get bored. This is especially the case for me when the sun comes out and all I want is a tub of Almond Dream or Booja Booja ice cream.

So I decided to find a couple of ways to make my prep a little more exciting when I get those pesky cravings.

My third meal of the day includes a shake, so rather than having it as a shake I decided to blend it up and then freeze it in a bowl and make protein Ice cream!

Protein Ice cream

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  • 1 scoop protein powder (Chocolate Sun Warrior Classic)
  • 1 scoop Phil Richards Performance Greens- Coco choc (optional)
  • 10 g chia seeds
  • Approx 150ml water or milk

Method:

  1. Blend together the protein, greens and water
  2. Stir in the chia seeds
  3. Freeze
  4. Depending on how long you have frozen it for you may need to leave out for 5mins or so before serving and/or blend again
  5. Top with your desired toppings. I chose blueberries

It’s so easy to make. Just like ice cream!

BCAA Slushies

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Another great way to cool down on these (occasional) summer days.

  • 2 scoops BCAA – I chose MyProtein BCAA 4:1:1 Berry Blast
  • Water
  • Ice

Method 1

  1. Mix together your BCAA and a little water and blend with ice
  2. Enjoy!

Method 2

  1. Blend your BCAA and water then freeze
  2. Once frozen leave to stand for 5-10 mins
  3. Blend and enjoy!

 

These are so perfect, refreshing and keep you on track towards your goals! You could even make up two flavours and layer them pretending it’s one of those Fanta ones at the cinema…. You all know the ones!

BCAA Ice Lollies


Like the slushies, these are another way to use bcaas to stay on track and cool down without reaching for a fab!

  • BCAA- I used MyProtein BCAA 4:1:1 in Tropical Storm
  • Water
  • Ice lolly moulds

Method:

  1. Make up your BCAAs and pour into your ice lolly moulds
  2. Freeze
  3. Enjoyyyyyyy!

 

These are just a few ways I’m keeping my set prep food exciting. I’d love to hear what you do to keep it interesting too!

Love Char x

The Importance of a Good Support Network

I have to be honest and say that I am so lucky to have SUCH a great support network. But why is it so important?

Competition prep is hard at the best of times never mind if you haven’t got people to turn to for support. We have (for the most part) set food and set training so if you’re not careful it can be very easy to alienate anyone around you who isn’t part of either of those factors. What we should really be doing is making sure that exactly that doesn’t happen. Sure, not everyone understands when you’re saying about how hard it is because this is a lifestyle or a single comp choice you have actively made BUT having people around you to talk to and/or distract you and pick you up is so important

Bikini competitions from the outside look (in my opinion) very glam. You get super tanned, put on the most sparkly, embellished bikini you will ever wear, you do your hair and make up all sexy, pop on your heels and strut around on stage in what could be the best condition of your entire life.

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What people don’t see (unless they’re really close to you) is the hours, days, weeks and months of preparation it takes to get there. They don’t see the mind games that your prep brain plays on you when you’re 12% body fat but don’t feel Lean enough. Even I had meat cravings last week and I haven’t eaten meat for over two years! Madness!

Most people only share their good moments and progresses on their social media- so you see the ‘YESSSS look at these gains!’ Photos or the ‘check out my cheat meal I love my prep’ photos and statuses. People are less willing to let you in on when they’re having bad prep days, when calories are low but training is high and they’re struggling mentally. I mean that’s totally fine that they don’t want to share that! But what I’m saying is, it’s those days where you really need that support network, someone you can just text and be like ‘hey, really struggling today’ and they’ll chat with you and either distract you or talk it out.

I’ve been away at summer camp for one week of my prep and I managed to prep most of my food for 5 days so that I could stay on track rather than the surprises that awaited in the dining room. The structure to my day was different to how it would be in London so I had to work out how I would be spacing my meals. The first day was very tough but my body soon acclimatised and Unworked through it. It was on the final day where it’s tradition for the coaches/staff to have dominoes pizza delivered in and have a drink to celebrate the end of a great summer together, that I found the hardest. I saved my final meal to eat with everyone so I didn’t alienate myself and just remove myself from the celebrations. I also told myself as a treat I could have a Diet Coke from our tuck shop while everyone was tucking into pizza, wine, beer and cider. We had no Diet Coke….. You know when you’ve thought about something all day and you’ve told yourself you can have it so you’re looking forward to it… And then you can’t, it’s out of your control you can’t have it. I DON’T EVEN LIKE FIZZY DRINKS! I went and boiled the kettle and sat down with a Twinings Nutty Chocolate Assam tea. Whilst yes it was delicious, it just didn’t have the same satisfaction as that treat of a Diet Coke was going to be. After a little while, sat there quite hungry, everyone having a great time all of a sudden I felt oh so overwhelmed, I removed myself from the room and had a little cry. Now, this isn’t a pity party and now on reflection it does sound silly but at the time I found that whole scenario very hard. Luckily my friends at camp are some of the best people I have ever met. Abi followed me out of the room, gave me a hug and was like ‘Charlotte, you’re incredible and I completely admire what you’re doing. I don’t know how you’ve done it here but you’re doing so well’ I needed that. A few of my other friends shared kind words in support too and even though it seems like a silly thing to be getting upset over, they were so understanding and supportive of was wonderful!

It’s those kinds of people you need in your life. No matter how small the problem- because it will feel huge at the time- we need people we can turn to to talk to. Without that support network, it all brews inside your head and makes everything so much worse.

Now, I LOVE competition prep and have very little to complain about. I was actually very excited to get back on prep and everyone laughed at me and was like ‘you must be the only one!’ I don’t just love the body I get at the end of it, I actually do love the whole process, watching my body transform and the intricacies of all the training and food planning. It’s amazing. I have chosen this lifestyle and it isn’t for everyone that’s for sure but I completely love it. I’m just saying, at some point you’re going to need those people around you for support so even though they may not completely understand your training, diet, Lifestyle… Just don’t push them away.

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To Mum, Dad, Jessica and my wonderful friends, thank you so much for your support I couldn’t do it without you

Love Char xxx

But you’re a PT, why do you need a coach?

Sorry for being a bit here and there lately but competition prep has well and truly begun again.

I have a new coach, Tom Ford and I am LOVING prep so far! It is already so different to last time, it works better for me for sure but by no means is that slating my prep last time at all. They’re just two very different experiences.

So, as you know I qualified as a level 2 fitness instructor and level 3 PT in June this year. Honestly the best course ever! BUT that’s not the point of this post, let’s not meander now. As I was saying I qualified as a PT, I often now get asked why I then choose to take on a competition prep coach for my competition. I have a couple of answers here for you!

I thought about doing it myself, I really did! I thought about it a lot and my tutor on my course told me that my case study for a competitor was good enough to implement on someone, so I have the capacity to atleast physically train someone to compete. I just didn’t like the idea of not having anyone else to check in with or was an outside eye.

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I decided that if I prepped myself I wouldn’t be able to view the experience subjectively so I went on the hunt for a coach!

I had been training bits in a big bodybuilding gym in North London and started my search in there. Here’s how it went:

(After some small talk and pleasantries)

Me: so yeah, I’m looking to compete in October and need a coach

Them: okay cool so tell me more about you and your training now, have you ever competed before?

Me: yep, I competed in April for the first time, loved it and want to do it again…. And I’m vegan….
(Awkward pause)

Them: okayyyyyyyy…..

Me: (talks about being a non ethical vegan blah blah blah)

Them: oh so if you’re a non ethical vegan, you won’t be on prep right?…

Me: erm no it doesn’t quite work like that I’ll be staying vegan …

Them: erm okay I’m going to have to think….

So that’s how one story went. I left feeling like as a vegan I wouldn’t be taken seriously in competing. I messaged friends and family asking for advice, do I go against everything I’ve done for the last two years and leave veganism behind whilst on prep? The messages I got back were so supportive and I decided that somewhere out there was a coach that would take me on confidently as a vegan and I wouldn’t compromise this part of my life.

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So I put out a call for a coach who would take on a vegan and the response was overwhelming. SO many people got back to me with recommendations and from there I contacted some coaches and made my decision.

Oh hey #TeamTomFord ! So far, two weeks in I am LOVING prep and honestly very happy with my decision. Pure Elite October I am coming for you. This girl is committed and determined and passionate, there’s no stopping me now!

Head over and follow my other channels to keep up more regularly with how prep is going and what I’m up to:

Insta- @charlotteclarkeuk

Twitter- @charljclarke

YouTube- search charlclarke

Snapchat- charclarke91

Love Char xx

Bounty Bliss Balls

Woweeeee I made these a couple of months ago and they went down an absolute storm, so now you can make them too! It’s also another FANTASTIC way to add Little’s flavoured coffees into your life!


Ingredients:

500g date paste

105g unflavoured protein (3 scoops)

2 tsp Little’s Swiss Chocolate Coffee 

1 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder

1tbsp maple syrup/ agave

3tbsp melted coconut oil

1 cup dessicated coconut

Coating:

3tbsp melted coconut oil

2tbsp raw cacao powder

Method:

• Melt 3 tbsp coconut oil, stir in 35g protein and dessicated coconut.

• Press mixture into balls in the palm of your hand. Aim for about 15

• Place on/in a freezer safe dish and pop in the freezer while you prep the rest.

• Heat date paste in the microwave for approx 20-30secs to soften

• Mix in 35g protein, raw cacao, maple syrup

• Make up black coffee using minimal water, add to the mixture and combine

•  Roll mixture out and cut into 15 circles ( I shamelessly used the rim of a wine glass)

•  Remove coconut balls from the freezer

• Wrap the date mixture around the coconut balls making sure there aren’t any holes/gaps in the mixture

•  Repeat for all

•  To coat- melt 3tbsp coconut oil and stir in 2tbsp cacao powder

• Either roll each ball in the liquid chocolate OR drizzle over the top

• Sprinkle with a little extra dessicated coconut

•  Refrigerate to set the chocolate

• Enjoy! (Recommended serving- 2 bounty balls)


These are a delicious snack! What’s better is, you know EXACTLY what’s inside them!

You can pick up Little’s at Holland and Barrett, Wholefoods, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and online here.

You’re welcome!

Love Char x

Off Season in Charlotte’s Head

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This right here is pretty much the thought process I go through on a minutely basis on my off season. Okay, slightly dramatic… daily for sure:

1: Okay let’s do this, cant stay stage lean

2: YES calorie increase. time for allllllllll of the food

3: Oh no! too much food. I feel sick

4: Well at least my body hates this bad food, time to be good again

5: Ooooh is that food?!

6: Oh hey booty! Look guys check out these booty gains

7: Where’s my tan gone. Must tan tonight so I look like I still have muscles

8: Thank goodness for my macro increase, I’m so strong now!

9: Oh, I dont like this whole softer look thing going on

10: Maybe I’ll do a mini cut….

11: Who am i kidding why would I put myself through that voluntarily, carbs are my best friend

12: Carbs are the devil I look so soft. gross

13. Ooooh is that porridge?!

14: Look at these new muscles this is great!

15: Maybe I should train some abs

16: Abs are you still there somewhere?

17: Guys have you seen my HUGE booty now?!

18: I should probably do a little bit of cardio again…

19: Nope bad idea I HATE cardio!

20: Oh did I mention I have a peachy bigger booty now?

True story. Who else can relate?

Char x

p.s Have you seen these booty gains?

p.p.s No really, have you?!

What supplements I use and why

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I am a strong believer that if you’re eating a healthy balanced diet and training sensibly then you will get everything you need from your diet.

In VERY short terms:

Carbohydrates are not the devil and are actually vital to fuelling your body to train. These should be consumed in the form of complex carbs like brown rice and sweet potato. NOT white bread sarnies and chips, or everyone’s favourite crisp sandwich.

Protein is needed to repair and build your muscles and can be found in things like eggs and lean meats like turkey and chicken. Funny how those are the things I mention yet I’m vegan…. Most Vegan protein sources are also high in carbs e.g chickpeas so if I’m on a low carb week in competition prep, getting a high enough protein intake with minimal carbs is difficult.

Fats. Oh no not the F word! Healthy fats are essential for energy especially when working aerobically- e.g going on a long run. So fried mars bars- NO, Avocado YES!

Amino acids– in short these are the building blocks of protein. So these in your diet are going to help you recover quicker and build that muscle. Different Amino Acids come from different foods for example arginine can be found in chickpeas, but glutamine can be found in meat, dairy, eggs, spinach, cabbage, nuts and beans. This is another reason why a varied diet is key! There are 20 amino acids used by the human body with only 9 of them being essential for humans. These essential amino acids cannot be formed by us so need to be supplied externally via our diet.

Creatine phosphate is stored in our muscles and used to produce something in our bodies called ATP. This our main energy currency within the body. When we are doing short, explosive movements/exercises it is the creatine phosphate in our muscles that replenishes the energy that has just been used in that movement. To a lot of people I’m sure this sounds like a load of jargon, and for most people you will get ample amounts of Creatine through your diet so needn’t worry yourself. It can be found in meat and fish so for regular training there is not need for creatine supplementation. However, if you’re a veggie or vegan like me and want to be able to train hard and heavy and your muscles replenish your energy stores enough in rest periods, creatine supplementation may be wise. Unfortunately creatine isn’t something that is found in a veggie/vegan diet so for someone like me who is actively trying to build lots of muscle, aiming to up weights very regularly in the gym, creatine supplementation is key to help.

So what supplements do I use?

Soy protein:

At the moment I’m mainly using The Protein Works Soy Protein Isolate.

Why?

A lot of dietary vegan protein sources are also high in carbohydrates like chickpeas, pulses, beans etc so if I am aiming to up my protein intake to help my muscles build and recover, I’ll use soy protein. There are many other vegan protein supplements like brown rice protein or pea protein but Soy is my personal preference.

BCAAs

I use Precision Engineered BCAA powder to get those all important amino acids in.

Why?

With the level of training I do causing small tears in my muscle fibres, it is important to be consuming amino acids to help build new muscle fibres and recover faster in order to train again sooner. With Amino Acids being the building blocks of protein, it also ups my protein intake.

Creatine

I am currently using The Protein Works Creatine Gluconate

Why?

Like I said earlier, creatine isn’t found in vegan diets so it is important for me to supplement in order to help my energy system out and get the most from my training. Why gluconate? The gluconate factor helps transport the creatine to the muscle cells where it is needed rather than most of it staying in your stomach not utilised like creatine monohydate for example. Why would I buy something that I can’t utilise properly?

Glutamine

I use The Protein Works Glutamine Powder

Why?

Glutamine is another of those amino acids I mentioned earlier. It prevents muscle break down. ‘Glutamine also increases your ability to secrete Human Growth Hormone, which helps metabolize body fat and support new muscle growth.’ (Bodybuilding.com)

Glutamine has also been shown to support your immune system, so when training unbelievable amounts on top of working and studying it’s vital to keep my immune system in tip top condition to make me less susceptible to illness.

So there we go. Supplementation is the key word here. I don’t replace anything in my diet with these products, you would NEVER find me having a ‘meal replacement shake’ I love eating too much. Also like it says in the name, these products should SUPPLEMENT a healthy balanced diet, NOT replace things.

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If I wasn’t training how I am, for what I’m training for, I wouldn’t supplement so heavy if at all. Don’t get caught up in ‘I go to the gym so I HAVE to use supplements’ most of the time if you take the time to look at your diet, you can get what you need from just that. Abs are made in the kitchen right?! So don’t throw your money at a protein shake and expect all the results in the world instantly if you haven’t taken the time to look at and make any necessary changes to how your fuelling and replenishing your body with your food.

Now, I could have gone into all of this MUCH deeper because I love to geek out on this stuff but that’s just me!

Char x

p.s nope, I don’t take steroids.

Train fitness guest blog

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Last month I was contacted by TRAINFITNESS and was asked if I would put together an article about competing as a vegan. I chose to wait until after my competition so that I could give a rounded account of the whole experience and how I did it.

If you head over to their page here, you can have a read for yourself.

Char x