Meal Prep 101: Busy Persons Guide to Meal Prep

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One of the main reasons people struggle to achieve their fitness goals is that they expect to find time to exercise and to eat well instead of realising that they have to make the time. Maybe you work full-time, study full-time or have other responsibilities (such as children, social engagements, a job that requires a lot of travel, working late night shifts, a lot of assignments, etc). I am by no means suggesting that these are bad excuses, on the contrary because I believe in their validity I want to provide a few tips which can help even the busiest person make time for meal prepping. 

Regardless of the approach you take to nutrition there are loads of benefits of prepping meals. Including ensuring that you stay on track of you nutrition by avoiding making convenient and less nutritious choices at lunch time. Having meals prepped and taking them into work with you will also save you money. 

I am by no means a meal prep expert and I am not suggesting that your approach to meal prep should be the same as mine. My intent in sharing it with you guys is that you may find it a helpful guide if you are struggling in this area. 

Jay’s Tips:

  • Plan your meals in advance: To help make life easier when you have some free time write-up a list of foods to eat during the week. If you track macros and can use an app such as my fitness pal or if you prefer taking an intuitive eating approach you can either type up a list or go old school and put pen to paper. 
  • Prep meals for two days: I find that when you prep meals for the whole week by the time you get to day 4 it tastes foul. I find that preparing meals for every two days ensures that food stays fresh and tasty. Prepping meals this way also means not spending hours in the kitchen. Another thing you can do as well is to double up on your dinner and take the second portion into work/uni with you as your lunch. 
  • Eat foods you like: I know that this point sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many times people eat foods they don’t like because they are labeled “superfoods” or “fat-burning.” Long story short these labels are just that, labels. If you don’t like what you have packed to eat you are less likely to stick to your nutrition in the long-term. 
  • Keep things simple: We often try to over complicate things. Keep your meals simple, there is no need to try to be Gordan Ramsey and create dishes that take you hours (which means you’ll be unlikely to keep prepping in the long-term). 

Hope these tips help. 

Jay xx

Let’s Talk About Sweat Baby

 

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I feel that there are two big myths surrounding sweating. The first is that sweat is an indicator of how hard you’ve worked during your training session and the second is that the more you sweat the more calories you burn. It’s one of the many reasons that people tend to believe cardio is more effective for fat-loss compared to strength training. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t do cardio, there are many benefits of including cardio in your training plan (see my blog The Benefits of Cardio for more info). 

So why do we sweat then? When we workout our body’s internal temperature rises so sweat is produced in order to cool it down. 

The Myths Addressed: 

While you do technically lose weight (water weight) from sweating it is only temporary and once you’ve had something to eat or drink the weight returns. In order to achieve permanent weight-loss you should create a caloric deficit through the use of a good nutrition and training program.

Although one of the results of a good training session can be to get a decent sweat on, how much you sweat does not determine how hard you’ve worked. How much you sweat also depends on the individual in questions as different people have different number of sweat glands, meaning that some people naturally just sweat more than others. Your fitness levels may also determine how much you sweat because the more conditioned your body becomes, the more intensity will be required during exercise to raise its core temperate to produce sweat. 

The Key Message: Make sure you don’t get too caught up in the need to sweat during a workout.

Just some food for thought

Jay 

Tips On How to Maintain Goal Weight

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Achieving a fat-loss goal can be extremely difficult, but arguably maintaining that goal is even harder. Majority of people regain weight and end up in a cycle of losing weight and regaining that weight. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that only 20% of individuals are successful at maintaining weight loss in the long-term. 

This shouldn’t however discourage anyone from attempting to achieve their goals. I’ve devised a list with a few tips to help maintain weight loss in the long-term: 

  1. Self-love = This may sound very kumbaya but its important to learn to come from a place of love when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Learning to truly love yourself and your body is important. You need to be realistic and understand that while there are certain things (such as your body measurements and composition) that you can change there are things that you may not be able to change (such as your body structure). 
  1. Make sustainable changes = One of the reasons people fail to maintain weight loss is because of the approaches they take to lose weight. Often times people use approaches to nutrition that are overly restrictive and will throw everything into training (i.e. no rest days or training too many times a week) which results in failure not only to achieve their end goal but also in failure to maintain that goal if they do achieve it. Make sure that you take things a step at a time and make sustainable changes that you can see yourself sticking to long after you’ve achieved your goal 
  1. Consistency = This tip follows on from the last one. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in the group of individuals who had successfully maintained long-term weight loss one of the factors was “continued adherence to diet and exercise strategies” aka consistency. One of my favourite quotes says that “exercise is not a destination, it is a constant state of becoming.” You need to realise that it’s a lifestyle and that you are creating habits of eating well and exercising regularly which you should continue to practice for the rest of your life and not just for the sole purpose of achieving your goal. 
  1. Mistakes and Setback will happen = While losing weight and maintaining weight loss in theory is simple in practice it can be difficult because we are trying to replace old habits with new ones. Realise that you will make mistakes and that things won’t always go according to plan. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes and avoid repeating them and to keep pushing forward. 
  1. Patience = We live in a society where we are accustomed to things happening in the quickest and easiest way possible. In the case of fat-loss however, we must be patient because things will take a long time. You didn’t get to where you are overnight so you are not going to get to where you want to be overnight. “Don’t let the time it takes to achieve a goal put you off of trying. The time will pass either way, you may as well spend it doing something productive.”

Hope these are helpful. 

Jay 

BDD: Body Dysmorphic Disorder in Fitness

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What is body dysmorphic disorder? Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or body dysmorphia is a mental health condition in which “a person spends a lot of time worrying about and obsessing over flaws in their appearance.”  The flaws themselves tend to be unnoticeable to others and are either “imagined” by the person suffering from BDD or in the case where there is an actual flaw it’s importance is exaggerated. BDD goes beyond being unhappy with a certain aspect of ones own appearance because for those suffering from it the perceived flaws cause them a great deal of emotional pain and interfere greatly with their lives (e.g they become anti social and engage in extreme acts to either hide or attempt to fix these flaws). 

What does the fitness industry have to do with it? “Interestingly, distorted body image oftentimes has little to no relation to how an individual actually looks; his or her perception of the physical self is heavily influenced by cultural ideals.” For years society has been defining and setting standards of beauty through television and magazines and now with technological advancements and the rise in time spent scrolling through social media platforms people start to judge their own appearances according to societal/cultural definitions and expectations. With regard to fitness this may be feeling that one is not fit and healthy if they aren’t lean, muscular and have a six-pack. Another example is muscle dysmorphia (a subcategory of BDD affecting mostly males) in which one believes/perceives ones body to be too small. We tend to associate exercising and eating nutritious food in a positive manner (because at their very core these are things that are good for us) however, it is possible to take this to an extreme and transform what should be healthy habits into unhealthy ones. 

Tips to maintain a positive body image: 

  • Learn to admire the beauty and accomplishments of others without calling your own into question. If following a particular page or person online makes you feel negative about yourself simply unfollow it and focus on those that inspire you instead
  • Unplug try to limit time spent scrolling through social media 
  • Stop the negative self-talk. Practice speaking to yourself in a positive manner. Show yourself love and kindness
  • Support network. You are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence. Talk to friends, loved ones or a professional about how you are feeling.
  • Stop trying to live up to societies unrealistic standards. Celebrate what makes you unique, the world would be an extremely dull place if we were all the same. 

Just some food for thought. 

Jay xx

5 Reasons Why Strength Training is the Bomb Dot Com

 

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Strength training (aka resistance training) “is a method of improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines, or ones own bodyweight.” Traditionally when one thinks of lifting weights the thought of Arnie or Ronnie Coleman may come to mind, but now strength training has become increasingly popular with various sports (i.e. bodybuilding, olympic lifting, powerlifting, rugby, running, football, etc) being composed entirely of strength training or including it in their training plans.

Today I thought I would cover 5 reasons why everyone should include strength training into their workout routines:

  1. Beneficial to your overall health and fitness levels = stronger muscles and joints means making every day tasks much easier (i.e carrying shopping bags, climbing stairs and playing with children). Strength training can also help to fight against the loss of muscle tissue that occurs when we age as well as increasing bone density. This type of training also helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  1. Improves body composition = Strength training allows you to lose fat while retaining muscle mass. “While cardio is effective for burning fat through calorie expenditure, nothing is better when it comes to increasing muscle size and strength than strength training.”
  1. Improves sports performance = strength training can help athletes to improve speed, power, coordination and balance which translates into improved performance for their particular sport.
  1. Improves mood and boosts energy levels = strength training can help to counter off feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. It also leads to increased energy levels which can contribute to the improvement of our mood.
  1. You feel badass = This point speaks for itself

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

Vanilla & Cinnamon Protein Muffins

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 scoop  vanilla protein powder
  • 1 scoop water
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tsp almond butter and 2 tsp hazelnut spread

Method: 

  • In a blender or nutribullet blend together the protein powder, coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, water and eggs
  • Make sure mixture is completely blended together and place in muffin tin (should make about 4 muffins)
  • Bake at 150 degrees for 8-10 minutes (or until golden)
  • Slice off the muffin tops with a knife and let muffins cool for 3-5 minutes
  • Put the peanut butter on the bottom half of 2 of the muffins and the hazelnut spread on the bottom half of the other 2
  • Slice the banana and place it on the muffins
  • Place the muffin tops back on and enjoy

Jay xx

Accountability: Are You Standing in Your Own Way

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With the start of yet another new month 2018 is now well underway, so how are the goals and intentions you set up at the start of the year shaping up? Are you on track or are things not going according to plan?

Don’t get me wrong, no fitness journey (or any journey for that matter) will work out 100 percent smoothly and according to plan, that being said while it may not be a linear journey you should still ultimately be working towards your end goal. For example if your goal is fat-loss, there may be some weeks where your weight remains the same or where it goes up, which is absolutely normal. However, in the long-term you should still be losing weight and therefore working towards your goal.

I have found from my own personal experience and observing clients, family and friends that often we can be very quick to blame outside factors for sabotaging our goals and refuse to take responsibility. Continuing on from my fat-loss example above sometimes people will be quick to blame other factors for weight gain instead of perhaps being brutally honest with themselves and taking accountability such as accepting that perhaps they aren’t tracking calories properly (i.e.over estimating how much energy is expended and under estimating how much energy is consumed) or assuming that eating whole and organic foods translates differently to our bodies than non-organic foods (cake is cake just because its organic doesn’t mean you can eat more of it). This is just a small example.

The key point and message I hope that you guys take away from todays post is that if things aren’t working out the way that they should make sure that you’re being honest with yourself and taking responsibility where its appropriate.

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx