‘Abs are made in the kitchen!’

So over the past 4-6 months I have majorly got myself into a ‘gym craze’ and I am loving it! Seeing the results has been amazing, tiring and hard work but still amazing! I haven’t reached my goal yet but it is an ongoing journey.

I have come to realise that it’s not just what you do at the gym to get and maintain defined abs and a flat stomach! Ever heard the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen?’ Well it’s true! I have always been active, growing up a dancer and rehearsing / dancing 7 days a week, I admittedly have always been fairly slender so I am not here to talk about some massive transformation, however I have learnt a lot about the nutrition side and would like to share this with girls who are starting out their journey or maybe you are already on your way but struggling with the food side of things! This could help you 🙂

I never really ‘watched’ what I ate growing up! Calorie counting or reading fat contents never concerned me and I’ll be honest I would roll my eyes at anyone who checked how many calories/fat grams were in a chocolate bar! But, I now get it! There’s a lot more to it!

What you eat is so important and vital when trying to build muscle, to the process of repairing and to visibly see the hard work pay off!
Here are some tips I have learnt along the way that may help you when you are starting out your journey to ‘ab’ville’ 👌
1. Always look at the saturated fats in foods… Those should never be more than 6% of the fat contents… People get confused with good fats and saturated fat! Dont get it twisted!  Believe it or not fats are good for us and we need it in our diets… But yes, In moderation and the RIGHT fats. Stick to foods with low saturated fat in them but moderate in monounsaturated fats. Saturates are the evil ones we want to avoid eating too much of, unless you want to spend longer on that treadmill!

Benefits:- Monounsaturated fats can be beneficial on your heart when eaten in moderation and can help lower cholesterol. 

Examples:- Nuts such as Brazil, Cashew Nuts and Almonds are great for snacking (unsalted / uncoated … Sorry chocolate peanuts don’t count) olive oil, coconut oil, red meats, fish such as salmon or mackerel, avocados and natural peanut butter.


2. PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN! Yes we need a lot of it to repair and grow! It is essential to get lean and defined, which at the end of the day is the ultimate goal. We should have between 0.8- 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day! Try to have protein sources in every meal you have! However, did you know that your body can only absorb so much Protein in one go? So you really do need to be measured in the protein amount in your meals or it could start to have an adverse affect! Best time to have more protein is post work out and before bed! I tend to snack on hard boiled eggs during the day or add them to a salad with meat (no dressing) to add protein to my meal.
Examples:- Pumpkin seeds, Eggs, Fish, Meats such as chicken, beef, turkey, pork. Just be careful  with the quality of the meats and try to drain the fat juices when cooking! 

Note:- having protein shakes or supplements aren’t to be frowned upon! It can be hard to consume the right amount of protein naturally! They help a lot. Try ‘My Protein’ for quality and competitive prices for different protein products ! My Protein (I like the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Whey Protein, perfect for after a work out and before bed, Protein Wafers for snacking , Protein Breakfast Smoothie which fills me up until dinner and the Protein Pancakes are unreal!) 


3. Carbs…. This is a confusing one for me because any type of carbs bloat me like mad, but Carbohydrates are in fact an essential part when trying to get six-pack abs and they are a must on your nutrition plan. Any time you digest carbohydrates (this includes breads, pastas, muffins, sweets, sodas, sports drinks, rice, oats, etc.) our bodies break them down into a simple form of sugar called glucose.When glucose enters the blood stream, it causes our pancreas to produce a hormone known as insulin. Insulin’s job is to come in and shuttle the glucose out of our blood stream and store it in our muscles throughout the body.Now when glucose gets stored, it gets stored as glycogen. Our bodies use glycogen as muscle fuel when going through an intense workout. However, serious problems start to arise when we do not use up the glycogen that is in our muscles. We want to be sticking with Complex carbohydrates, these take the body longer to digest, providing us with longer lasting energy than simple carbs. Some examples include sweet potatoes, beans, potatoes, oatmeal, and whole meal rice. However, this depends on how active you are too. If you are taking part in high intensity work outs then you will need more complex carbs. Fibrous Carbohydrates are the carbs we can eat as much as possible of as these have great benefits including fat burning properties and nutrients. Examples of Fibrous Carbs are broccoli, asparagus, brussle sprouts, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, and other green leafy vegetables.

AVOID:- The ‘simple’ carbs to avoid are ones that give an instant energy boost but an almost immediate crash, these are fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas, sweets, table sugar, and milk. Avoid any foods that are processed such as processed meats and ready meals.

Note:- Best time to eat carbs are after a intense work out (complex carbs), Fibrous carbs whenever possible with every meal if you can.

This is an example of a typical day for me

This is an example of a typical day for me

4. PREP!! Preparing your meals at the beginning of the week is a much better plan then to decide on the day, as you are more likely to end up buying fast food or processed food if you don’t already have something prepared! On a Sunday, go write a list of everything you are going to have for your dinners that week and do the same for teas and snacks. Only do Monday-Thursday as you do want to keep some spontaneous meals in there for the weekend even if it isn’t your cheat day! I prepare my dinners for work either on a Sunday for the week or the night before to ensure I take in my lunch as when I have forgotten them in the past or not prepared… I have always ended up at the shop and got something for double the price and with no nutritional value at all! Leaving me feeling slugging and full of regret for the rest of the day.

Note:- Get it out of your head that eating healthy is expensive, its NOT and that is a cop out! I shop in Aldi and find all the fruit and veg are fresh and tasty! I spend no more than £25 a week on my dinners and teas and that’s with adding all sorts into my salads for dinner and getting the most ‘expensive’ meats there too!

5. DO CHEAT! No not on your partner….. Have a cheat day!! It has been proven that cheat days or cheat meals are important to keep you on the right track and not to ‘fall off the bandwagon’ so they say! You can’t deprive yourself of the foods you love forever! You will find yourself not enjoying this journey as much and could end up spiralling down a rocky road that can be hard to come out of! So if one day a week you feel like having ice cream, chocolate, crisps or just your favourite meal… Then do!!! 👌 it’s not the end of the world. It is also supposed to give your body a ‘shock’ and reboot your metabolism.

my cheat 🙌

indulging my favourite vanilla slice 🙊

6. Tough love- some meals that benefit your nutrition or growth you may not enjoy … I am one of the lucky one as I do enjoy healthy meals full of veggies and fish over junk food but I know we all aren’t on the same wave length! So do your research, mix up your meals and if you didn’t enjoy it… It’s kind of tough! You won’t get abs eating your favourite meals all the time, if we did we would all be ab’tastic! Just think it will be worth it! But all healthy meals don’t have to be boring and plain…. Research alternatives or seasoning ideas! You may be surprised….

For healthy and nutritious meal ideas please message me for examples. Alternatively, I will be posting a blog weekly on the top meals I have tried and tested that week! 

7. VEGGIES & FRUIT! Veggies & fruit have many health benefits & are great to fill you up without overloading on carbs! But be careful with fruit… They contain a lot of natural sugars, too many can store as fats! Also, although they say this is a myth… ‘when eating fruit after a meal then this could be due to the fermentation of the fruit sitting on top of the food’ this really does happen to me, so if you feel bloated and get pains after eating fruit after a meal, personally, I feel better when eating fruit in the morning on an empty stomach or a few blueberries and a banana with porridge oats as breakfast. Of course you can eat fruit in the day as snacks but try to avoid eating directly after a meal to avoid the bloating feeling.(Bananas are great for filling you up and for energy before a work out)

8. Mix it up. If you don’t particularly like fruit and veg (I’ve known people to be genuinely afraid to even touch fruit/veg) then try mixing it up into a smoothie! You can use frozen fruit or fresh, blend it up and add soy milk for a healthy milkshake! Avoid adding flavoured yogurts as they also contain a lot of sugar and fats. Use plain Greek yoghurt if you must! The good thing about this is you can add whatever fruits or veggies you like, and you know whats been added instead of buying a smoothie from the store which usually is full of added sugars and sweeteners! REMEMBER TO DRINK LOTS OF WATER! You need water to flush out the toxins in your body.

9. SAY NO TO ‘FAT FREE’ ! So you think your being healthy having products that claim to be fat free?… They aren’t lying but what they fail to advertise is the amount of sugars added to compensate ! Even sugar free can be a no no as they add tons of sweetners! Try to go with normal versions but still with low fat contents! Don’t be fooled! 

10. NOBODY SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE EASY! It’s true, there will be days that you feel cravings like a pregnant woman, you will want to eat everything in sight and there will be days you feel the pressure. It is going to be hard, but its worth it in the end. My advice is to keep a track of your progress, weekly by taking pictures so you can give yourself a confidence boost which will help with maintaining the diet as you can see the results! Also, try to make it fun. This is why I think experimenting with different recipes Is the best idea instead of being plain and boring and sticking to the same meals to be ‘safe’.

Dee-jay Hadfield knows all to well how hard the Ab Journey is but seeing her results in just 7 weeks should make anyone want to kick start their journey today!

I’ve had a few comments from people who say that I must be starving myself or taking diet pills for these results to be real, which really offends me because the amount of hard work I have put in is unreal. I am infact doing the complete opposite of starving myself, I have to eat clean and strict but I have to eat every 2-3 hours and drinking a hell of a lot of water! I was a bad sugar addict, so I have had to cut that out completely and this has made me lose my flab so quick! There have been days I feel like crying, I’m not going to lie. You do have to sacrifice some of your social life for abs… I can’t go out every weekend drinking alcohol or eating out. I have to make sure I am eating the right foods, fresh and at the right time. I do let myself go every now and then with a cheat day/meal but it is rare and I’m ok with this because I know the results will be there. It isn’t as easy as some people think! But still all worth it!’ Dee-jay Hadfield, Tameside .Contact Deejay for information on her classes in Tameside, Manchester on deejay.hadfield@activetameside.com

If you would like any advice/training sessions then please feel free to contact me (Manchester based)


Published by Grania Nesbitt