Listening to Your Body: Rest & Recovery

You only get one body, so you need to make sure that you take good care of it. Our bodies are extremely intelligent and will always give us signs and signals of what it is that they need. For that reason I’m a strong believer in listening to your body.

That being said, I’ll admit that I’m not always the best at listening to the cues that my body gives me. One thing that I’ve always struggled with is being able to identify the difference between needing to push myself more (in terms of training) and when to take a step back. I often do the former which can lead to me feeling burnt-out and unmotivated. 

Over time I’ve gotten a lot better at listening to my body and identifying exactly what it is that it needs. A lot of that comes down to my own experience and knowledge as well as the experiences and knowledge of the people I surround myself with. So, today I wanted to share some of that knowledge with you guys, because I think it is important to be able to differentiate between when you need to push yourself and when you need to ease off and give yourself time to rest and recover. 

Reasons rest & recovery are 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.
  • Gives 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).

Signs your body gives you that you need to ease off training?

  • You are getting intense and prolonged  DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness);
  • You are lacking motivation to do training that you typically enjoy for prolonged periods of time;
  • You are struggling to get a decent nights sleep;
  • You are feeling more irritable than usual;
  • You feel drained and exhausted after workouts that typically leave you feeling energised; and
  • Your sex drive has decreased or disappeared. 

I know that for many people taking a day off training, especially one that they didn’t plan on having can be quite hard. Ensuring that you have adequate time to rest and recover is just as important for achieving your goals as your training days. Even the world’s top athletes have rest and recovery scheduled into their intense regimes. Make sure you aren’t overlooking these significant factors in your training routine.

Just some food for thought.

Jay

Self-love & the Impact of Social Media

As with anything in life social media has its pros and cons. It’s a great platform to bring people who share similar interests together. It also allows us to draw motivation and inspiration from others. However, social media can distort our perception of what is “normal” and often people can take drawing motivation and inspiration from others too far. 

Using fitness as an example, filling our social media feeds with people who are lean and shredded can lead us to view our bodies in a distorted manner. We can easily begin to focus on the negatives, believing that we need to look like these strangers online and have extremely low body fat percentage levels and a six pack.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we can draw fitness motivation and inspiration from others. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy social media. I just think that when you start altering how you live your life (such as how many calories you eat, what you eat, how you train, how often you train, etc) to look like someone else you’ve taken it too far. 

You and your lifestyle are unique. You have different goals and priorities, so how you train, how often you train, how you eat and what you eat should be tailored to you, your lifestyle and your goals. They shouldn’t just be a carbon copy of someone else’s. 

Our bodies are constantly proving how amazing they are, but instead of celebrating the things we are great at we choose instead to bring ourselves down and focus on the things that we don’t like.

At the end of the day there are certain things that we can’t change and we have to learn to accept them. Don’t get get so caught up in what everyone’s doing to the detriment of your own life. You are not a stranger on the internet, nor should you want to be.

I’m not claiming to have perfected the relationship with myself, as with any relationship in life it is not perfect, but I am working on it and I am investing in it because it is important. Changing my mindset and continually working on building a better relationship with myself has improved all areas of my life. Not only do I choose to focus on the positives but I’ve come to learn to love the things I once hated about myself.

Just some food for thought. 

Jay xx

Don’t Skip Leg Day: The Benefits of Strong Booty Muscles

While training to strengthen and enhance the booty has been gaining a lot of attention recently I have found that there is still some confusion as to which exercises will actually help you achieve this.

The gluteus maximus, medius and minimus are the largest muscle group within the body and make up the booty. These muscles work together to stabilise, extend, rotate and abduct the hip. The importance and benefits of training your glute muscles go far beyond aesthetics. So make sure you’re not neglecting them. Having strong gluteal muscles helps to: 

  • Prevent injury = Strong gluteal muscles can reduce the risk of injury in the knees, lower back and hamstrings. When our booty muscles aren’t strong enough other muscles which aren’t as well suited for the job take over which can potentially lead to pulled muscles and injuries (ouch!)
  • Improve athletic performance = Our gluteal muscles are essential in virtually all sports (as well as in the gym). Strong booty muscles can help to make you faster, more agile and able to produce more explosive movements. They basically help us to train at our highest capacity 
  • They look good = Looking good means feeling good. Fellas don’t be selfish, girls like booty too 🙂 

Jay’s go to Booty Workout

  1. Sumo deadlift 4×10 
  2. Barbell hip thrust 4×10 
  3. Leg press (single leg) feet positioned high 3×12 (each leg) 
  4. DB walking lunges 3×12 (each leg) (making sure to take long strides to place emphasis on hamstring and glute muscles) 
  5. Sideways cable kicks 4×10 (each leg) 
  6. Finisher: 10 box jumps into burpees                                                                                                (60s rest between all sets) 

Seriously guys, don’t skip leg day!

Just some food for thought 

Jay xx

Fitting Healthy Habits into a Busy Schedule

When you already have an extremely busy schedule and a lot of commitments (i.e. children, social engagements, a job that requires a lot of travel, working late night shifts, a lot assignments, etc) trying to find the time to hit the gym and prep meals can feel like an impossible task. 

So I thought I would share a few tips with you guys that have helped me continue to make healthy choices and keep with consistent with training, especially during the moments when life feels a bit chaotic. 

  1. Schedule: You can’t expect to find the time to hit the gym. I know that this is a cliche, but it’s true. You have to make the time and the best way to achieve that, is to plan ahead. I always take a day out (typically a Saturday or a Sunday) 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. Studies have shown that the simple act of planning beforehand (i.e. when and how you will do something) increases the likelihood of you actually doing it. 
  1. Plan Your Meals: Just as I make sure that I take the time to schedule my training sessions in advance, I also take the time to plan out what I’ll be eating in advance. Regardless of your approach to nutrition (whether you track your macros or eat intuitively) there are several benefits to planning your meals in advance. For starters, it can help you save money and avoid unnecessary food waste, because you head to the grocery store with a set list of items that you’ll use throughout the week. It also means, that you don’t have to stress yourself out thinking about what to have for dinner on days that you are extremely busy. This can also help you avoid making convenient and unhealthier choices. 
  1. Consistency is Key: To this day the best piece of training advice I’ve ever received is to “focus on being consistent, instead of constantly swinging from one extreme (training intensely and attempting to eat perfectly) to the other (not training at all and binging). Making sure that you always apply sustainable training and nutritional habits will help you remain consistent in the long term. 
  1. Don’t Let Fitness Take Over Your Life: I Spent far too much time believing that you should never miss a workout or eat unhealthy food. A belief which was only reaffirmed by thousands of posts I scrolled through 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 eating a meal which isn’t nutrient dense. 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

The Girl Behind the Quads: How I Keep Myself Motivated!

The thing you have to understand about motivation is that it is fickle, unreliable and dependent on our moods and feelings. Many of us will be motivated when we set a new goal or start a new routine (new year resolutions are the perfect example of this). However, as soon as that novelty wears off and we start to hit obstacles (which make achieving our goals more difficult) motivation can quickly become useless. 

How do I manage to stay motivated and keep training? The short and honest answer is that I don’t. Motivation for me is something that comes and goes. When I’ve got it, I use it to my advantage and exploit the living hell out of it.

So what do I do during those motivational dry spells (which  can feel endless)? What keeps me going and helps get me to the gym?

  1. Accountability: I decided to get myself a personal trainer because I find that having someone to answer to makes me more likely to hit the gym (and continue working towards my goals) especially when I don’t want to.
  1. Setting short term goals: For the majority of us, our goals will take quite some time to achieve. Setting some short term goals (which can be anything from aiming to hit 10,000 steps a day to committing to taking a packed lunch to work) can help to give you extra boosts of motivation.
  1. Perspective: This one goes out to all my fellow perfectionists. Sometimes when things don’t go to plan we decide to say “fuck it” and pretty much give up on everything else. Being aware that things aren’t going to be perfect, that sometimes you’ll eat more than you should or a session won’t feel as good as you’d hoped, is extremely important. It will allow you to see that moment for what it was (which is simply a bad moment). Even the world’s greatest athletes have their bad days. You need to be able to move on from it and get yourself back on track. 
  1. Music: Personally, I find that music helps me to get into the right mood and mindset to train.
  1. Habit and discipline: Saving the best for last! I think people often get too caught up and trying to be motivated when they should be focusing on being disciplined. By building discipline you eliminate the dependence on outside factors (such as your mood) and instead give yourself the tools to focus on the long term achievement of your goals through being consistent with your training. A good way to build discipline is simply by looking at going to the gym as a new habit you’re trying to form. Do it often enough and soon it will become second nature.

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx

Supplements & Your Fitness Goals

Nowadays there are a whole range of supplements promising things from fat-loss to muscle gain. These claims are then substantiated by endorsements and advertisements from fitness models on IG and other social media platforms. Leading the average person to believe that they need to take these things in order to achieve the results that their fitness role models have. This was the belief I held at the start of my fitness journey. 

Firstly I want to make clear that this post by no means is trying to say that all supplements are nonsense. I believe that certain supplements if used correctly can be beneficial. However, I think that many especially those who are new to fitness are a bit too eager on their use of supplementation. A supplement is defined as “a thing which is added to something else in order to complete or enhance it.” In other words supplements should be used to boost or enhance your training, diet and recovery they aren’t a replacement for these things. You can use all the supplements you want but if your training and nutrition aren’t on point you won’t achieve your desired results. Not to mention that supplements usually don’t come cheap. 

In my humble opinion supplements are not necessary to achieve your fitness goals. To me the main components to achieve your goals be they to lose fat or build muscle are to focus on training, nutrition and recovery. 

The message I hope you take from this is don’t over complicate your life with supplements. Focus on getting your training, nutrition and recovery on point. Once you’ve done that, then maybe explore and have a look at supplementation. 

Just some food for thought 

Jay xx

Self-care: Recognising & Avoiding Burnout

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When motivation and determination to smash a goal are running high, we can get so caught up in reaching the end result that we forget/underestimate the importance of the process it takes to achieve it. Obviously being motivated and determined to smash a goal is amazing. But, when the end result becomes our sole focus, we can become impatient and end up implementing shortcuts and questionable methods in order to achieve it (for example: drastic cuts in calories or cutting out entire food group if you’re trying to lose weight). In addition, being solely result focused can cause us to ignore or minimise cues given to us by our bodies that we need to slow down.

Burnout can lead to increasing the time it takes to achieve our goals and in some cases even put us off attempting to achieve them entirely. 

What is burnout?

Burnout /ˈbəːnaʊt/ 

“To cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted especially from overwork or overuse.”

Burnout has 3 main components:

  1. Exhaustion;
  2. Cynicism (particularly feelings of detachment or lack of engagement with things that you typically enjoy); and 
  3. Inefficiency.

What causes burnout?

There isn’t just one sole cause, instead several factors play a role in us becoming burnt out. Put simply burnout can be described as an imbalance in our lives, especially when the demands placed on us by work, training, ourselves (for the perfectionists out there) and other lifestyle stressors outweigh rewards, recognition, relaxation and our self-care routines.

What are the signs & Symptoms?

The following are examples of a few of the signs and symptoms of burnout:

  • Constantly feeling tired and exhausted
  • Change in sleep habits and appetite
  • Lack of motivation and difficulty enjoying things that you typically would
  • Increased feelings of self-doubt
  • Withdrawal and isolation from others

Self-care tips to help avoid or remedy burnout

  • Reach out to friends and family and talk about how you are feeling
  • Take a break and pamper yourself 
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep and if training is one of the contributing factors of you burnout ensure that your training program is properly periodised giving you enough time to recover
  • Make sure you find the right balance for you lifestyle

To sum up make sure you are including a good self-care system to your routine this year and be on the look out for the signs and symptoms of burnout.

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx

The Perfect Diet

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With the “New Year, New You” movement in full swing people tend to be extremely conscious of what they are eating. It is amazing that everyone is being mindful of what they are putting in their bodies and keen to improve their relationships with food. The problem is that the approaches chosen to do this tend to be extreme or restrictive.

Most people give up on their New Year resolutions by February, which is why I’m not a fan of them (but that is a whole other blog post topic for another day). 

With so many fitness and nutrition ads plastered all over television and social media I thought it might be helpful to address a few things.

Firstly there is no such thing as the perfect diet. There isn’t one secret ingredient or a miracle weight-loss cure that will enable you to shed several pounds overnight. Anything that promises rapid weight-loss or claims to “boost” or “kick-start” your metabolism is most likely a load of bull. 

Secondly just because it worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. We are all different and unique. Just because an approach or a lifestyle choice has worked for one of your close friends or someone you admire doesn’t mean it will work for you. Eating the same foods or amount of calories as your favourite IG model or YouTuber won’t yield the same results. 

Thirdly eating well doesn’t have to be complex nor does it mean eating foods you don’t enjoy. Far too often we over complicate things for ourselves which leads to us feeling overwhelmed. Eat foods you enjoy in a manner that will both help you achieve your goals and stay consistent in the long-term. 

I’m a big believer in balance when it comes to nutrition. This is tricky to define because a balanced approach will look different to everyone. What is balanced for one individual may not necessarily be balanced for another. 

It might be a case of trial and error until you find what works best for you, but if you can’t see yourself sticking to the approach to nutrition that you have chosen in the long-term, then you are doomed to fail before you even start. One of the main reasons that drastic approaches (i.e. cutting calories to an extremely low-level) don’t tend to work is because they are not enjoyable and more importantly unsustainable.

The key point I want you all to take from this post today is to make sure that you enjoy the approach you take and that it allows you to be consistent in the long-term. 

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx

Tips to Lead a Healthier and Fitter 2019

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Happy New Year peeps, I hope that you have all enjoyed the festive season.

It’s that time of year when motivation is running high and we are all committed to being better versions of ourselves. 

For most of us this self-improvement will include leading a healthier 2019, so I thought I’d put together a list of tips to help not only achieve these goals but to ensure that you are committed to them all year, especially once all the “new year, new you” motivation fades.

Jay’s Top Tips:

  1. Focus on building small daily habits: don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change too much at once. Instead of trying to change everything at once pick one thing to focus on. For example picking to focus on being consistent with training and once you’ve achieved that moving on to focusing on improving nutrition. 
  1. Learn to enjoy the process: people often get so focused on achieving their desired results or goals, that they forget the importance of enjoying the journey that gets them there. You wouldn’t stop working hard after getting a promotion at work. The same is true for achieving goals at the gym. This is one of the reason that quick fixes and fad diets don’t work.
  1. Plan ahead: if you keep waiting for the perfect time to train 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 have to make the time. 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 or not you track macros there are several benefits to planning your meals in advance, such as not having 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.
  1. There is no such thing as perfection: no journey will work out exactly according to plan. You have to accept the fact that you will make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. There will be ups and downs, there will be bad days, don’t let them put you off of achieving your goals.
  1. Be consistent: 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.

Hope you guys find these helpful.

Jay xx

Why You Shouldn’t Diet This Christmas!

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Whenever there is a special occasion or a holiday (i.e. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.) 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). 

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 Christmas. Stop focusing on and stressing about what you eat on days like Christmas  and instead start focussing on what you are putting into your body the rest of the year, because its what you do most of the time that determines your results. 

Just some food for thought

Jay xx