What is a Calorie Surplus?

In essence a calorie surplus is a way of effectively consuming more calories than you naturally burn. Thus leading to weight gain in the form of muscle or body fat. A calorie surplus is required if you ant to gain weight. To gain muscle you must be training equally as rigorous.

What is a calorie surplus? – The maths

As stated above, a calorie surplus is a way of consuming more calories than you normally would burn. If you eat 3,000 calories each day and burn 2,500, you’ve created a surplus of 500 calories each day. This is then transferred into muscle or body fat depending on your exercise routine.

Gaining weight requires a consistent weight surplus. It’s through consistency that you see results.

What is body fat?

Everybody has it. Our body stores energy as body fat. Especially when you’re on an excessive calorie surplus. Muscle growth is limited to approximately 10-15 pounds a year so anything over this gets stored by the body as fat. If you’re gaining fat as opposed to muscle then you’re probably eating too much. Keeping your surplus at a moderate level (500 excess calories above how much you burn eg. 3000 calories for every 2500 burnt) will help resolve this issue.

Healthy ways to create a calorie surplus

While it remains true that a larger calorie surplus leads to faster weight gain, that doesn’t mean you should be eating anything and everything you can get your hands on. Be smart about it and make the right choices.

You should be eating foods that are high in complex carbs, lean proteins and unsaturated fats: 100% whole wheat bread/pasta, brown rice, chicken, turkey, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, low fat/fat free dairy products and vegetable oils (particularly extra virgin olive oil).

You should be avoiding foods high in simple carbs, sugars and saturated/trans fats: fruit juice, soda, doughnuts, muffins, candy, potato chips and white bread (refined flour).

 

 

What I loved about SE Asia

Teaching

My whole reasoning for going to Southeast Asia in the first place was to teach English to school children. It’s what I came out here to do. The kids were adorable even the naughty ones, like everything in Asia the teaching was crazy. You could never really pre-empt what was going to happen each day in each new classroom. One day a class could be perfectly well-behaved and then the next they behaved the worst in the world.

But behaviour aside, these kids all had one thing in common; the eagerness to learn. English to them was vital and you can see the hard work and determination in each student. It was worth it and I’m so glad I did it! I did have a few of my favourites – one girl GiGi with gorgeous hair and although she struggled she endeavoured to try her hardest to understand. I recall sitting with her I was teaching her about animals and when she finally understood what we were teaching her, her face lit up. Another boy although I’ve unfortunately forgotten his name, also had the most gorgeous hair remains in my mind because although at times he could be quite the mischievous chap you could tell he wanted to be there ever so much. Despite this cheeky persona, his work was always completed and with great accuracy.

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Teaching the children about directions and the world.
The people

In both Vietnam and Cambodia I found such honest and compassionate people. My heart however fell in love with the Cambodian people. They have a heart of gold. I found them much more inviting than some local Vietnamese. I found the Vietnamese a lot more reserved. In Cambodia they rush out to greet you as though you are a celebrity it was endearing but not necessary but still it was warm and welcoming. They always had smiles on their faces and would stop to talk to you. Don’t get me wrong the hospitality in Vietnam was great and I met such amazing and kind people there like Lucy at Freedom Hostel Hue and Chang my High Van Pass driver.

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I have the locals to thank for making my stay in Cambodia and happy and memorable one. Thankyou to NaNa, Mr Beer, ChaNa, James and all their loving family for the endless amounts of hospitality they shown me and the warm conversations I had.

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The charm and the sense of adventure

Both countries had such a charm. Cambodia was more of an preserved charm where as the more developed Vietnam had a different sort of charm. Each city was here different and so it’s charm is that of the surprisal element. I don’t quite know how to explain it. Everywhere I went I faced a new adventure; just getting on the buses themselves proved just that. The so much to do out here from canyoning to zip lining, to helping conserve the elephants to visiting the national parks. For me, this was both the first time in Asia the first time travelling on my own so I was expecting mayhem; mayhem is exactly what I received.

I got lost several times and even got stranded on a kayak in the middle of Ha Long Bay. It’s on the road that you learn from your mistakes like being late for your train from Hanoi to Hue – that was fun. being on the road I soon found myself becoming much better at navigating the streets as the weeks unfolded and i even rode a motorbike, ON MY OWN, through Hue for the first time – without a license might I add. So yeah, there are endless amounts of opportunities for you to potentially injure yourself or die having fun here in Asia but I believe there is an attraction to that. It adds to this nations charm. You’re almost invincible in a world where the crazy is the nations normal. Which leads me to my next point: transport.

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Myself and Anita testing our tastebuds by eating a snake.
Transport

Let’s start with Cambodia. Tuk Tuks – we should make these a thing in the cities of the UK. They’re an unforgettable ride through the hustle and bustle of the city. They are both quick and thrilling, I loved my time in them as they were my only means of transport in Cambodia. Motorbikes however dominated Vietnam everyone owned one. They had power on the roads and just dodging the vehicles was a task within itself. But it was a dangerous task I learned to love. Before I knew it I was able to cross the roads just like the locals and i took great pride in that.

Then there were the night buses. I was on five in total Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh to Saigon, Hà Nội and Nha Trang, Dalat to Saigon. The first of the  five slept 2 to a bunk with the rest of them featuring reclining seat (up to 75°) leaving little room for the legs of a 5 foot 10 man like myself. Wi-Fi almost never worked, the Air-con blasted Antarctica out to get you – I remember a very angry Ciara waking up shivering. We even resulted in shoving a pair of shorts into the hole to stop the air of death escaping from its abyss. There were several toilet breaks on each sometimes on the side of the road and other times at restaurants with squat toilets – they were fun. Speaking of toilets…

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Sometimes you’d see a family of 5 on one motorbike.
Toilets

SE Asia isn’t well-known for its high quality flushing toilet but what it did have instead was what I called the ‘bum gun’. The bum gun is your friend. I loved its use and it should become a common feature in the homes of Great Britain. Not only is it hygienic but it’s also very cleansing and refreshing. It’s a bit like a bidet and ensures that all the mess in that region is cleaned up.

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The open road.
Food

There’s no question that the food out here is delicious. There’s a variety of flavours for you to try as soon as you walk out of your hostel door. I had both street food and food in restaurants. My go to was simple yet delicious pork with fried noodles and veg but when I was feeling a bit more adventurous I tried the likes of pho in Vietnam, durian ice cream in Hue, com tam in Saigon, a vast amount of rice dishes and curry’s and even delicacy’s like silk worms, snakes, crickets and geckos.

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Beer

Before this trip, I was never a beer drinker but it had indeed grown on me. Now when I go out I’m often ordering pints with a hint of lime for myself. Changed man? I think so. Beer was just the refreshment you needed on a hot and humid south East Asian day. It was the perfect cool down anyone could ask for, and besides I was on my travels. I especially love Cambodia’s ‘Angkor Smooth’, I drank way to many of those although my friend Ciara holds the record of at least 5 a day. It was both light and refreshing. ‘Saigon Red’ had more of a fizz to it but it was still easy to drink, for a non beer consumer that is.

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Ciara ft Angkor Smooth and a stolen helmet.

For more check out my coffee series in Vietnam.

Flat mates.

Moving to London in the beginning was turning out to be quite stressful. I had secured my accommodation but the move in date was 10/9/16 6 days after I was due to leave for the big smoke. Luckily I managed to bag myself a cheap deal on Airbnb.com. In the end I was sharing with two young travellers who just so happened to be brother and sister.

Arriving at the Cutty Sark I had a small suitcase with me, a ginormous hold-all bag and 2 other bags. Yes that’s right, I looked like the biggest nob to grace this planet. And to top it all off I was lost. I did a complete circle around the area and ended up having to be picked up by the home’s host. Not my finest moment I can tell you that. 

I’ve never been that good at orienteering to be honest.

Upon getting into my home for the next 2 nights I threw my stuff down giving my back and shoulders a solid rest. This felt awesome. But as they say ‘no rest for the wicked’ I quickly neatened myself up and made my way to the first freshers event. Everything was going smoothly. 

That is, until I returned home.

Me being me, in my not so sober state of mind, couldn’t for the life of me open the door to the flat. This meant I had to awake my flatmates. Bearing in mind I hadn’t even met them yet and it was 3am in the morning. Whilst they said it wasn’t a problem and that the door was difficult to open due to a fault I still felt extremely embarrassed and guilty. But they were really nice people and they were moving on, on their journey the next day. Meaning I had the house to myself. 

My first real slice of independence.

I, too, was moving on, on my journey. To save me some costs, my lovely friends and lifesavers, Christy and Danni, opened up their home to help me out. They were the best and made the transition to London a lot easier. It really does help having someone you know down here.

September 10th arrived and my Mum and my Gramps travelled down with all of my moving in stuff to take to my new home for the year. Carting everything from the car up to the 7th floor did prove to be quite strenuous and tiring but we did it in the end. They had to get back though and I tried my best to organise my room as much as possible before getting ready to go out for my birthday. Lets drink to Venue and the amazing yet embarrassing night that I’ve talked about in one of my earlier posts.

I can’t really complain about my accommodation at chapter, there’s an onsite gym, I have my own en suite and a nice open plan kitchen. I have the best housemates. It’s quite nice to be living with non musical theatre people, it opens up possibilities to try new things you may not get to experience in a more ‘stagey’ household.

Living next door to me there’s the wonderful woman that is Temi. Temi is Korea obsessed and it just so happens that one of our housemates is from South Korea 🇰🇷 Stella or Sujin in her Korean name! She’s studying at Goldsmiths in the media department whereas Temi is studying Fashion Journalism at UCA Epsom. I guess you can say we’re on the more creative courses in the household. Then there’s Miranda who lives the next room down from Temi and she’s doing a financial masters degree. Next door to her is Stef who’s doing a business degree at Kings. 

I guess I’ve became the closest to Temi and Stef as they’re both my age and first years. They’re my gym buddies and we do a lot of stuff together. Shopping for groceries together is always fun; Stef has now cut out sugar in her diet so it’s hard picking a desert when eating together. We cooked Thanksgiving  dinner together – that turned out well even if we did undercook it and risk possible food poisoning. Fortunately though, we all turned out just fine. We also had Christmas dinner together prepping everything from scratch, I even marinated and seasoned the chicken. Someone, god knows who, decided it was a good idea to cook the chicken on the top shelf in the oven. 

BIG mistake.

This video sums up the experience.

In the end it turned out amazingly well and it was a good old laugh in the process. In the first few weeks Miranda cooked us all a traditional Chinese meal – which was such a nice treat. However I must say my favourite by far has to be the sample Stella let me try. All I know was that it was porkbelly and a whole lot of other stuff wrapped in a lettuce leaf. It was like heaven in my mouth. So many flavours exploded – it was delicious!

It’s going to be quite sad when we depart after this year, but I know I’ll definitely keep in touch. But for now though, here’s to making amazing memories and getting fit together in this new year. 

I love you all.

Missing home.

Whilst I’ve mentioned before in my posts, moving to a new city can be extremely daunting and the emotional journey that comes with it is a very rocky road . In my case anyway. Whilst I started off the year in high spirits, that took a gradual decline towards the end of the year. Not anything major; just a bit of depletion on my behalf.

The start of the academic year was filled with excitement and adventures. It was a time of meeting new people and embracing change. But as the year drew to a close especially from around mid November time, I found myself experiencing a whole variety of feelings including the feeling of being homesick. It seemed the more the date I was leaving for the Christmas approached the more I was having these feelings of discontent. I guess I was just overwhelmed with it all and working all hours under the sun didn’t exactly help, despite it pre-occupying my mind, temporarily, I still felt alone. But I think a lot of other contributing factors worsened my mood during this mini break down that lasted about a week. It was little things like not being able to Tap well and not understanding music theory to not knowing where I stand with people and missing my friends from back home that all contributed to it. I missed my friends a lot. I missed our drunken antics and how they make me laugh. I missed their faces and their voices. I say breakdown lightly because I was OK, I was just a hot mess putting on a smile. But luckily I had an amazing support group here that consisted of chats in Costa, cups of tea at Nikki’s place and pitchers in Spoons. I always had someone I could relay my so-called problems onto.

I was browsing online one day in search of new books to read, if you don’t exactly know me I’m a big fan of literature. whilst I don’t always have the time to read, I do try to get as much in as I possibly can – especially when commuting to work. So after an hour or so of searching, I stumbled across a book that immediately stood out for me. “My Grandmother sends her regards and apologies” by Fredrik Backman. I took this book with me everywhere, I just couldn’t stop reading it. I’m very close with my Nan, Freda, I would go round to her house at least once a week and by being so far away I was stripped of this privilege. Not being able to see either of my grandparents really took a toll on me. My family is very close and that’s the way we like it, so not hearing their voices everyday kind of sucked. There was something so special about this book and it filled me with warmth just at the right time and eased the homesick feeling somewhat. I loved it that much I gifted it to my Nan for Christmas. If you’re ever stuck for buying me Christmas presents a good book will suffice.9781444775853
I wrote this on Facebook at the time –

“So I picked up this book the other day because I was missing my own Nan and needed a bit of home comfort. I haven’t been able to put this book down it’s filled me with such warmth and joy and despite not finishing it yet, from what I’ve gathered it tells the tale of a grandmother and her granddaughter who are the best of friends – quick to laugh all night with each other and quick to call each other out when they’re doing something wrong! The adventures they go on together are beautiful. There’s a line in the book that reads “Because all seven-year-olds deserve superheroes. And anyone who doesn’t agree needs their head examined.” I’m 19 years old and I will never not need you in my life! You are my superhero!!! My Nan’s truly an amazing woman and I’ve said it time and time again, she’s been through everything a person can go through and still smiles everyday, I think it’s a Nan thing! I just wanted to say I love you and appreciate you for everything you are and do! I’m so grateful and blessed and I really, really can’t wait to see you!!!”

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One thing I definitely missed was the home cooking. Coming in from a long day of drama school, sometimes as late as 9:30pm after being up from 7:30am, and then having to prepare meals and cook for yourself has now made me appreciate my Mum so much. How she puts up with it I will never know. It sounds quite lazy of me but it’s so time-consuming especially when you’ve been rushed off your feet all day. You just want someone there to do it for you. I’ve tried a few times to cook from scratch and as time has gone on I’ve gotten a lot better! Check this out – After gym dinner. Smoked paprika seasoned chicken and vegetable wraps with a side order of seasoned rice all done from scratch 🌯🥗🍚 (Stolen Stef’s recipe lol)

This is some of my later work. In the beginning I was constantly burning my food. Now I’m not saying I’m the next Jamie Oliver but I have definitely improved. My meals generally consist of soup, pasta, noodles and some more pasta. So this was a luxury for me. If anyone wants to cook for me, I’d be more than happy to accept. During the start of my term, Christy and Danni helped me out a lot! I thoroughly miss their meals they made me. I’m not quite on their level just yet. I’m forever in their debt.

During this time I watched the second years performance of ‘Honk!’ For those of you that don’t know, in short Honk! tells the tale of The Ugly Duckling, but it’s so much more than that and I watched the two shows one after each other and, yes I cried during both. As I mentioned earlier I was an emotional wreck and there was a bit in the story line where the ‘Ugly Duckling’ was alone and the mother was crying because she couldn’t find him. For some reason this hit home and stirred up emotions in me that just had to come out. It’s safe to say I took my arse home that night, had a nice cup of tea, laughed at myself and then cried some more. Beauty and the Beast sorted me right out though.

I sound so pathetic but I guess I was just overwhelmed which sounds stupid and silly but hey that’s the reality that is my life. I wouldn’t change it either. It’s OK to cry, but probably not as much as me. The next week I was completely fine. It’s a fun life I lead I can assure you. It’s truly laughable. Go ahead. I implore you to do so.

Hope this post makes you realise you are never too old to miss home. Home is a comfort and will always be waiting for you upon your return. Whilst I’ve now thoroughly gotten over myself and kicked myself up the butt I’m now ready to restart my life again here, homesick free. This time it will be a success.. one would hope.