She’s a final year medical student and a popular health, fitness and lifestyle blogger, so we figured ‘The Food Medic’ (a.k.a Hazel Wallace) was the right person to ask about all our workout and nutritional queries…

First of all Hazel, you look incredible and we’re very jealous! But people that have great figures often seem to get told that they’re very lucky. Do you deem yourself as lucky, or do you believe anyone can achieve what you have?

That’s very kind of you to say, thank you! I wouldn’t say that I was lucky or that I got into the shape that I am in by magic. It’s taken me over 2 years to get to where I am physically and mentally and it has required a lot of hard work with daily workouts and a staying on track of a healthy diet. I guess I am lucky in one respect because I really enjoy following a healthy lifestyle. I love the rush of endorphins a work out gives me! I think that comes with time because I didn’t find it easy to begin with. It’s all about building habits and being consistent. I think if someone is serious about getting in shape, then they can do it. Anyone can do it, you’ve just got to want it.

We all know that exercise hurts (a lot!) So when you’re doing a work out that’s really burning, what can you do to help yourself get through the pain?

That ‘burn’ you get when you’re working out happens when you’re muscles are getting fatigued. Your body responds by producing lactic acid which causes that burning sensation.This a good sign as it means you’re challenging your muscles which will make them stronger. I personally chase the burn in my workouts and use it to gauge the intensity of my workout. When it gets really tough, I just focus on the music or slowly count in my head to get through the final reps! Although this is a normal sensation, it’s important to recognise when to stop if the pain is different and too uncomfortable to continue.

We’re nearly into February now and all the January gym starters (including myself) are losing motivation. How can we stay focused?

Write down your goals and stick them somewhere; on your fridge, your desk, your laptop screen. Seeing them written down will be a daily reminder to get up and kick butt. Changing up your training and trying out new classes is also a fun way to stay motivated. Let’s face it, we all get a little bored if we do the same thing everyday so by adding variety to your week you are less likely to dread the gym.

Do you ever struggle to find the motivation to do a workout yourself, and do you ever have cheat days?

YES! Particularly during winter and it’s pouring down outside and all I want to do is snuggle up and watch Netflix. If I’m really suffering with lack of motivation I rope in one of my best friends to come work out with me! I also do have the odd ‘cheat meal’ but I HATE this term. No one should feel like their diet is that restrictive that they can’t have a little treat every now and then. I don’t schedule in a whole ‘cheat day’ butinstead I have a couple of treats throughout the week such as a bag of Pick n’ Mix at the cinema.

Best food to eat pre-workout?

I don’t take pre-workout supplements before I work out but I usually have a strong coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil stirred in. Sounds strange right? But coconut oil is made up of MCT’S, OR Medium Chain Triglycerides. MCTs are rapidly absorbed by the body and are quickly metabolised to provide fuel. If I’m hungry I will also have a protein shake or banana.

What do you think about protein shakes? Are they harmful to us?

Protein supplements are a great, convenient, way to make sure you’re hitting your daily protein macros.I think a lot of girls fear protein shakes because of the misconception that it will turn them into the Hulk. Protein on its own cannot make your muscles grow. Protein, coupled with a balanced diet inclusive of carbohydrates and weight lifting can. However it does not happen overnight and it takes a lot of hard work in the gym to increase muscle mass!

We’re all prone to a sweet snack, which for many of us is a quick chocolate bar from the ‘naughty cupboard!’ Can you recommend any healthier snacks that can still keep our sweet-tooth satisfied?

Dark chocolate is a great alternative! The reason dark chocolate is considered healthier than standard milk chocolate is because it is less processed and contains fewer additives such as hydrogenated oils, flavours, colourings and sugar – which is why it tastes slightly bitter! Processing the cocoa bean reduces the antioxidant content so when you’re choosing your chocolate next, opt for a bar with greater than 70% cocoa content.

Us ladies are always looking for tips on how we can tone up, so can you give us a few workouts that are good for the legs, tums and bums?

For supermodel legs my secret weapon is pistol squats using a TRX! This exercise targets your glutes, quads and hamstrings for beautifully toned legs.

You’re due to graduate as a doctor in July this year, congratulations! Obviously giving your body energy is important, but doing a degree (as our students know only too well), involves brain power too. Are there any particular foods/meals that can help make sure we’re on top form mentally, as well as physically?

The correlation between omega 3 and brain function has been extensively researched over the past few years. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid and, like omega 6, we cannot produce them on our own, so we must get them through our diet. There are two main omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 brain benefits are derived mostly from DHA and, to a lesser degree, EPA. We can make DHA and EPA from ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) but it happens slowly and it doesn’t produce very much so it’s important that we get enough through our diet. Oily fish is the best source of DHA and EPA so aim for 2 portions a week!

After you’ve completed your degree, do you plan to become a doctor full-time, or continue with your fitness and nutrition venture?

I’m lucky in the fact that I can practice both my passions in life; medicine and health & fitness. I don’t know how my life will change once I start work as a doctor in August but I can assure you that I will definitely be continuing The Food Medic!

After a workout we can really ache the next day. Any tips on how to prevent us from walking like we’re in our eighties?!

STRETCH! Stretching after a workout enhances recovery and helps to reduce those next day DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), which is particularly helpful after a tough leg day! A warm bath with magnesium salts is also a great way to soothe aching muscles before bed time.

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