According to Jay: My Approach to Nutrition

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It’s taken me a while and a lot of trial and error to find an approach to nutrition which works for me. Having spent so many years in a toxic relationship with food, I’ve now been able to find balance and create a healthy relationship. I’m not in any way trying to suggest that anyone else needs to take the same approach as me, because ultimately everyone will have different aspects of nutrition that they struggle with and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, but if you are struggling I’m hoping that some of these tips which have helped me will be helpful to you as well.

  1. Making it a lifestyle = In the past I was always guilty of relying on quick fixes or going to extremes which were ultimately unsustainable. My number one rule now is always to ensure that I can see myself adhering to any measures I implement in the long-term. If not then it’s not the right approach for me.
  1. De tudo um pouco = Everything in moderation. I find that as soon as I create restriction in my diet I focus on whatever it is that I’m restricting even more which in the past has led to a lot of binge eating and “diet re-starts on Monday” mentality. Instead I focus on ensuring that the majority of my meals are made up of nutrient dense foods while still allowing myself to enjoy all my favourite things.
  1. No labelling and being aware of trigger foods = I no longer label foods as being good or bad. In the past I always considered that to be healthy I had to cut bread out of my diet, whereas now I’ve learned that through portion control I can still enjoy bread (and other foods that I had previously labelled as being bad) and still achieve my goals. The key for me in being able to do this has been to learn which foods I can portion out. For instance If I buy a packet of biscuits I’m eating it all in one sitting. I still enjoy biscuits mind, but I know that it’s one of the foods I just can’t have in the house.
  1. Keep it simple = Far too often we over complicate things for ourselves which can make us feel overwhelmed and then we end up giving up altogether. Ultimately I eat foods that I enjoy in a manner that help me to both achieve my goals and be consistent.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

Easter is Coming: Dieting on the Holiday’s

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Whenever there is a special occasion or a holiday (i.e. Easter and Christmas) I always notice that people become more aware of that they eat. This is natural given the typically indulgent nature of the meals we consume during these brief periods.

My issue with this is that I feel that people become so concerned with what they do some of the time  (such as the food they eat on these holidays and special occasions) instead of focusing on what they do most of the time (which involves what they eat the rest of the year).

When it comes to fitness its important to remember that consistency is more important than bursts of perfection. What you do most of the time is more important than what you do some of the time. Which means that if you spend the majority of the year making choices which align with your goals and filling your body with nutrient dense foods, enjoying yourself on the odd holiday and special occasion won’t derail your progress or keep you from achieving your goals.

I do understand that for many there may still be anxiety around food and these kind of events so here are a few tips which may help:

  1. Eat what you want
  2. If you don’t want something don’t eat it
  3. Stop when you are full
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Enjoy the time spent and the memories created with friends, family and loved ones

Ultimately unless you are prepping for a competition or an event you shouldn’t be afraid of enjoying yourself on Easter. Stop focusing on and stressing about what you eat on days like Easter and Christmas  and instead start focussing on what you are putting into your body the rest of the year, because it’s what you do most of the time that determines your results.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

WIHF: What is Health & Fitness?

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Health is defined as “the state of being free from illness or injury” and fitness is defined as “the condition of being physically fit and healthy.” If you ask me these definitions allow for a broad interpretation of what health and fitness involve and what they look like.

What is health and fitness to you? Is it to be strong, to be explosive, to have endurance, to be lean, to be flexible, to have balance, to be precise, to feel good, to be able to perform daily tasks without feeling pain or fatigue or a combination of these and other things?

The reason I’m asking this question is that I feel that there are far too many people who are influenced by what they see on social media platforms and believe that in order to be fit and healthy they need to look a certain way (i.e be extremely lean and have a six-pack). What a healthy body looks like will depend upon the individual in question, for example for one person being healthy may be to reduce the risk of disease by lowering weight and body fat while for another person being healthy could be to increase body fat and overall weight.

In the age of social media it is easy to get caught up comparing yourself to strangers online. You don’t need to look like your favourite IG model in order to be fit and healthy, you don’t need to do what they do or eat how much they eat. Truth be told doing that doesn’t guarantee you the same results anyway. The fitness industry is so diverse that you should be doing whatever it is that you enjoy be that participating in a sport, bodybuilding, powerlifting, dancing, running, etc.

The key point I want you guys to take away today is to realise that health and fitness are broad and that a healthy body will look different on everyone.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

Listening to Your Body:Rest & Recovery

 

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Rest and recovery are easily overlooked factors when it comes to the achievement of our fitness goals. It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that the more exercise you do the better off you’ll be, however, when it comes to exercise more is not necessarily better. Even the world’s top athletes will have rest days scheduled into their training programs.

Why are rest days Important?

  • Helps to prevent injury: exercising without taking time to rest means that your muscles run the risk of becoming overused which can lead to injuries
  • Allows your muscles time to repair: rest days give our muscles time to grow and repair which ultimately allows you to gain benefits of the training that you’re doing.
  • Helps to keep you from burning out both physically and mentally: exercising is a form of stress that we place on our bodies, when we place too much stress on our bodies we can burn ourselves out mentally (lacking motivation and enthusiasm to engage in activities that we typically enjoy) and physically (not seeing any progress in our training and even struggling to maintain the same intensity and consistency in our training).

I hear you though. “Jay, I already have rest days in my program” and that’s great, but do you listen to your body and give yourself additional rest days when you need it. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between when you need to push yourself a little bit and when you need to back off. I still struggle with this so I thought I would share with you guys a few signs your body gives you when it needs rest and recovery:

  • Intense and prolonged DOMS
  • Prolonged lack of motivation to train
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling more irritated than usual
  • Feeling drained after what usually feels like a good workout
  • Decreased sex drive

I know that for many people taking a day off of training, especially one that they didn’t plan on having can be quite hard, but you will reap the benefits of it. Taking a day off of the gym doesn’t mean that you have to be a couch potato. Go for a walk or a hike or do some other fun activity you keep telling yourself you’ll do but never manage to find the time for.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

Stress & its Impact on Our Digestive System

 

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We all experience stress from time to time and short bursts of it can be beneficial to us however prolonged exposure to it can lead to chronic illness. It is not uncommon for us to believe that illness is the root cause of our symptoms when stress may actually be the real culprit. Today I thought I’d share with you guys a few ways that stress can have an impact on our digestive system.

  1. Stress can shut down digestion: which can lead to either constipation or food passing too quickly without nutrients being absorbed.
  2. Stress can cause heartburn
  3. Stress can eliminate the good bacteria in our gut which helps to fight viruses
  4. Stress can weaken your metabolism by slowing it down

Eating Well On a Budget

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From a very young age my mum always drilled the fact into my head that there are certain things in life where you look to make a bargain and others where you need to invest and focus on quality. Our health is definitely in the group of things that we need to invest in, because no matter how much money you have you can’t buy health and wellbeing. That being said investing in your health doesn’t need to cost you and arm and a leg, so I’ve put together a list of 10 of my favourite foods that are nutrient dense and won’t break the bank.

  1. Vegetables (e.g. potatoes, leafy veg, broccoli, carrots, etc)
  2. Tinned beans and lentils
  3. Eggs
  4. Fruits and Frozen Berries
  5. Oats
  6. Chicken and lean meats (Butcher shops do chicken and lean meat packages so make sure you check out your local butchers alternatively there are several places online that do chicken and lean meat packages)
  7. Tinned fish (e.g. tuna)
  8. Yoghurt
  9. Grains
  10. Seeds and Nuts

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

Work Life Balance: How to Fit Fitness & Healthy Habits into a Busy Schedule

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Whether you are in a demanding full-time job or a full time student, the thought of adding exercise to an already daunting to do list can seem overwhelming, especially when you have other responsibilities (i.e. children, social engagements, a job that requires a lot of travel, working late night shifts, a lot of assignments, etc).  So I thought I would share with you guys a few tips that have helped me make healthier choices and keep consistent with training during the moments when life gets a bit hectic:

  1. Schedule: Time and time again I’ve heard people say that they’ll try and find time to get to the gym, but the problem with this is that life gets in the way and you’ll likely find yourself occupied with other tasks and end up too busy and stressed to go. Instead of trying to find the time you must make the time to get to the gym. Just as you would with a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting you should schedule out set times to workout. I always take a day out (typically Sunday or Saturday) to schedule what I need to do and what I want to get done in the week to come, very Monica from Friends (I Know) but it’s effective.
  1. Get the gym out the way first thing: Don’t get me wrong, I think that you should schedule your training at a time that will allow you to be consistent in the long run. However, one of the benefits of getting your training out the way first thing in the morning is that you can just get on with the rest of your day without it playing on the back your mind. I’ve found that when I leave training to later on in the day (especially the end of the day) I procrastinate a lot more and in some cases I just don’t go.
  1. Plan your meals: Just as I make sure that I schedule out time to fit in working out I also take the time to plan out what I’ll be eating for the week. Regardless of your approach to nutrition and whether you track macros or eat intuitively there are loads of benefits to planning your meals in advance. It can help save money and avoid food waste because you head to the shops with a set list of items that you’ll use throughout the week. It means that you don’t have to stress yourself out thinking about what to eat on the days that you are extremely busy and therefore can help you avoid making convenient and unhealthy choices. If however, you travel and find yourself eating out quite a bit you can still make healthy choices. Focus on meals with good sources of protein with loads of veggies.
  1. Consistency is Key: The best fitness advice I’ve ever gotten is to focus on being consistent instead of constantly going from one extreme (training intensely and attempting to eat perfectly) to the other (not training at all and bingeing). Applying sustainable training and nutritional habits will help you to be consistent in the long-term. For example training 3x a week consistently over time will be better than training 5x one week then only 1x the next week and so on.
  1. Make fitness a part of your life, don’t let it take over: I spent a lot of time believing that I could never have excuses, a belief which was only reaffirmed by the millions of posts on social media. The truth is that sometimes work and other priorities will get in the way and sometimes they should. It isn’t healthy to feel that you can’t miss a workout or avoid time with friends and family because you are anxious about food. Just like one workout and one salad won’t make you fit and healthy missing a workout or not eating according to plan won’t make you unhealthy.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

How to Keep Yourself Motivated and Get Back on Track to Achieving your Goals

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When scrolling through social media sites it’s easy to forget that we are for the most part looking at the highlight reel of the lives of others. It then becomes easy to believe that most of the people we follow don’t struggle in the same way that we do. The truth is that everyone struggles with motivation. Everyone goes through periods where they feel like giving up or where they take actions that are counterproductive to the goals they hope to achieve. The important thing is not to give up during those moments.

Last weekend all I did was crave chocolate and cakes and I gave into my cravings. In the past I would have really beaten myself up about this and I would have stopped training and created a vicious cycle of comforting myself with food. Now I realise that days and moments like that will happen. I’ve learned to focus on why they happened (i.e. stress, lack of sleep, boredom, etc) and address those issues. I then just focus on getting back on track, not starving myself or depriving myself of food, but just focusing on eating well and making sure I stick to the training sessions I have planned.

I thought I would share with you guys a few tips that have helped me to stay motivated and get back on track when things don’t go according to plan:

  1. Create discipline: motivation is unreliable and dependant on your moods and feelings. By building discipline you eliminate the dependence on factors such as your mood and instead give yourself the necessary tools to focus on what you need to do (in order to achieve your goals) especially when you don’t feel like doing it.
  2. Set short-term goals: your overall goal may take a long time to achieve so in order to keep yourself motivated to achieve it set yourself some short-term goals. That could be anything from getting 10 000 steps a day to trying a new recipe once a week.
  3. The past is in the past: as hard as it may be you need to move on from the action you took which was counterproductive to your goal you have to forget about it and leave it in the past. There is nothing you can do about what has already happened all you can control is how you react to it. In my case it was eating far too much over the weekend. Instead of dwelling over this and beating myself up about it, I’ve been focussing on getting myself back on track by ensuring that I stick to my meal and training plans in the days to come.
  4. Don’t punish yourself: In the past I was very much guilty of trying to overcompensate for over-indulging by adding more workouts or depriving myself of food. Following on from the last point the best thing you can do is to try to move on from the incident and just get back to your regular eating and training routine. Don’t try to overcompensate as this may make matters worse and leave you feeling less motivated than before.
  5. Remind yourself of what your goals are and why they matter to you: every now and then a little reminder of what it is that we want to achieve may help to re-ignite the motivation that we had when we initially set the goal.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

Benefits of HIIT Training

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High Intensity Interval Training (a.k.a HIIT) is a form of exercise where you push yourself to the max during short bursts of activity (typically between 20-90 seconds) followed by short periods of less intense activity.

Benefits of HIIT:

  1. All exercise burns fat but more intense exercise burns more fat
  2. If done correctly it can help to improve endurance, complement strength development and help to improve body composition
  3. It can be done anywhere and you don’t require any equipment
  4. Improves both aerobic and anaerobic capacity
  5. It’s time efficient: you can have an effective exercise in a short period of time

While there are many benefits to HIIT training it is not for everyone and you can definitely get too much of a good thing. It’s recommended that you should not exceed more than 3 HIIT sessions a week. Depending on what your goal is HIIT training may not be the best option for you. Due to the high intensity level it may cause you to burn out and therefore be counterproductive to the attainment of your goal.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx