The power of positive thinking: how to overcome a gluten baby. Fast.

This is a “behind the scenes” story about eating gluten when you are not meant to, massive bloating, surprises, crash dieting, bruises, damage limitation and how positive thinking helped me turn it around fast.

Positive thinking, Daily Mail, Cristina Alciati, Jasmine Arrow

No time to read it right now? Pin this and read it later.

Last Monday I had a blood test first thing in the morning. I had to fast for 12 hours prior to that and although it’s not a big deal as I practice intermittent fasting almost every day, I felt it was a good excuse to treat myself and my other half to a massive pile of Danish pastries for breakfast. This is something I hadn’t done in years but was equipped to deal with the aftermath.

I am gluten intolerant and eating ordinary pastries results in me looking like I am 8 months pregnant for about a week. It’s great if I am on a crowded train as sometimes people give me their seat but not good for setting an example to my clients.

I can avoid most of the pain caused by the gluten destroying my gut with digestive enzymes which help break down the macronutrients in food thus making the gluten slightly more manageable. However, they can’t stop the inevitable inflammation that follows.

Normally this wouldn’t be an issue as I like to wear comfortable clothes anyway, but last week this suddenly had the potential to be a major disaster when I was advised by the mum of one of my clients that we were going to be interviewed and photographed for a story on parents hiring a Personal Trainer for their kids.

After I said “yes, brilliant” I checked in the mirror and noticed that the overhang over my trousers was not what you would expect a fitness role model to have… after panicking for a while I tapped into my positive thinking reserves and came up with a contingency plan to reduce the visible damages from the gluten in 48 hours or less.

When I turned up at my client’s home I had no idea of who I was doing this for but I was going to do it anyway. Turns out it was a piece for the Daily Mail so I tried to remain optimistic, no pressure whatsoever…

The true power of positive thinking

I was asked to work with Jasmine to help her improve her fitness and mindset back in July. I was reluctant at first as I work almost exclusively with mature women. I don’t have children and I find it difficult to relate to them.

My previous experiences of working with teenagers weren’t very successful as I had to compete with their smartphones for attention and weren’t that interested in doing the work that would give them the looks they were after. Instagram has a lot to answer for in this respect by bombarding impressionable teenagers with pictures of photoshopped young girls with impossibly perfect physiques. If you don’t measure up to them, you feel inadequate.

Jasmine Arrow punching for the Daily MailThankfully Jasmine (aka Little Chick) turned out to be very different from the average teenager. She has been brought up to use her brain to think critically about any information she comes across and she is always willing to listen and give things a go. We do have something in common: we both love martial arts and we are both keen students. Jasmine competes regularly in traditional Jiu Jitsu at national level and has an impressive collection of gold medals to her name.

Because she also spends time on Instagram she was growing increasingly frustrated at seeing all the aforementioned pictures so in a bid to help her refill her positive thinking tank I spent some time explaining the differences between different body types and how genetics influence your ability to get fit and to keep your fat levels low. I also showed her some blog posts and videos in which some of the Insta-Models explain the benefits of posing, lighting and photo editing to get the perfect Insta-Picture. You’d be surprised at how much work goes into a seemingly natural photograph!

As the penny dropped things started to change for the better and my champ grew increasingly confident. You’ll have to wait for the full story to appear in the paper though…

How to use positive thinking to get you out of a tight spot… or top

Cristina Alciati, Jasmine Arrow and the stylist

Discussing the next pose under the watchful eye of our lovely stylist for the day.

On the day of the photoshoot we are all excited because we got to work with a stylist and make-up artist who brought over a few shopping bags full of designer workout clothes, a suitcase full of make-up products and brushes. The photographer was able to turn the kitchen into a photographic studio in a blink.

I am always in awe of talented individuals and these guys were amazing: they got us all sorted out in no time and we were soon ready to be photographed.

I loved the workout gear they brought for me: the leggings were beautiful and very flattering and the top was great but… a size smaller than I would normally use. Somehow I managed to squeeze in and although I was able to contain the gluten baby in time for the photoshoot, the tight top redirected the flab to that place in between the ribs and the hips collecting it into a lovely spare tyre around the middle. (I am still searching for the same pair of leggings on Ebay, zero luck so far).

Crash dieting for damage limitation

Managing the gluten baby wasn’t too hard but it required a bit of willpower. I did what I always recommend my clients don’t do: a crash diet. I virtually eliminated all starches apart from a banana after working out and I drank still mineral water only. I replaced two meals with a vegan protein shake and then had a giant salad with a protein source for my main meal. Thankfully we did lots of sparring at the Krav Maga classes that week so that was the extra HIIT fat burning cardio taken care of. I hate crash diets and I am not interested in them but in circumstances like these they can be useful.

Even if 2.5 days aren’t a long time crash dieting you still need to find some extra motivation to see it through to the end. The moment you upset your metabolism by starving yourself it gets back at you by making you crave crisps, chips, pizza and all the things that make you put on weight and sap your energy. I had to constantly remind myself of why I was doing this to stop resenting the process. Positive thinking won in the end.

positive thinking, Cristina Alciati, Jasmine ArrowThe actual photoshoot was both fun and strange at the same time. It was fun to pretend that we were working out but also weird to having to stand so close to each other to allow for a tighter shot.

Because both Jas and myself are accomplished martial artists we thought the photogenic version of keeping your hands in guard position was funny: the purpose is to protect your face from strikes but we were asked not to cover our faces so we were only protect our clavicles from a violent attack!

If you want to survive a sparring session with minimal bruising it’s always good etiquette to look at your opponent with soft eyes (i.e. taking in as much of the surroundings too in case they brought friends), looking and smiling at the camera isn’t going to win you medals or help you take your arse home intact. But it’s fun.

I saw the draft of the article and it’s very good and very honest. We were all slightly worried that this was going to be a weight loss piece with before and after pictures but it’s not the case. The journalist who is writing the article respected Jas’ parents’ wishes, something that we are all very appreciative of.

Now I am only hoping that we will also benefit from some Photoshop magic to erase the effect of my bad Monday breakfast in a couple of clicks! Stay tuned for a link to the finished article.

I must confess that I enjoyed this so much that I now want to do it again. And again. And again.

If you also want help in fine tuning your mindset to succeed both in fitness and anything else in life, book a complimentary call right now and let’s have a chat!


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What do you do when you give yourself a gluten baby and suddenly you are called for a photoshoot for a national magazine? You tap into your positive thinking reserves and come out with a plan. Fast. Read the story here...  #positivethinking #gluten #glutenbaby #fitness #photoshoot #dailymail