Measuring Your Fitness Progress

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Keeping track of our progress is one of the essential components to achieving our fitness goals. It allows us to determine whether or not our training and nutritional plans are working. 

Studies have shown that those who track their progress are more likely to stick to their fitness routines compared to those that don’t. 

One of the preferred and most popular methods for tracking progress is using the scale. While this is generally a good indicator of progress, it does have the potential to be deceiving. The issue with only tracking weight is that the scale does not account for changes in body composition and increases in our bodies muscle mass. Meaning that you can actually gain/maintain the same weight but lose inches. For a long time I didn’t understand this and had built a very negative relationship with the scale. It felt disheartening to be working hard in the gym and improving nutrition and not seeing the numbers go down.

So, I thought I would share with you guys a few other ways you can measure progress:

  1. Pictures = We see ourselves everyday and so will find it harder to notice the subtle changes that our bodies go through. Taking pictures and comparing them over time can be a good indicator as to whether or not your fitness routine and approach to nutritional are working for you. They also allow us to see changes in our bodies that we may have not even realised were taking place.
  1. Improved Strength and Endurance = Progress can be seen through improved strength. If you manage to perform an exercise at a heavier weight than before or you can perform more reps than before. Maybe you had a workout plan and you struggled to get through it and now you’re able to get through it a lot easier and faster. Progress can also be seen through improved recovery time.
  1. How your clothes fit = If your clothes fit better or you’ve gone down a size. Our clothes can be a really good indicator for fatloss or weight gain. 

Hope you guys find these helpful.

Jay xx

Raspberry, Cinnamon & Nutmeg Protein Muffins

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You guys have asked and I have listened. Here is the recipe for my delicious raspberry, cinnamon and nutmeg protein muffins with dark and white chocolate chips.

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 Scoop vanilla protein powder
  2. 1 Tablespoon coconut flour
  3. 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 Teaspoon cocoa powder
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 2 Tablespoons 0% fat greek yoghurt 
  8. 75 grams fresh raspberries
  9. 2 medium sized eggs
  10. 30ml almond milk
  11. 1 square dark chocolate and 1 square white chocolate

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees
  • Blend together the protein powder, coconut flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, greek yoghurt, raspberries, eggs and almond milk until mixture is well mixed and a smoothie like consistency.
  • Place your mixture into a muffin tin/cupcake moulds
  • Chop the chocolate up into smaller squares and place them on the top of the mixture
  • Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes
  • Let cool for 5 minutes 
  • Enjoy 

Hope you guys enjoy these as much as I did

Jay xx

Tips to Help Build Confidence in the Gym

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The gym (and the free weights area in particular) can sometimes be an extremely intimidating place and make people feel self-conscious, especially when they are new to fitness or returning to it after a long time. 

People fear performing exercises incorrectly and being judged by other gym goers for lacking experience and being out of shape. This lack of confidence then leads to many people either performing excessive amounts of cardio (because the machinery and equipment is much easier to figure out) or avoiding the gym and exercise altogether. 

There was a time when I used to share the above concerns. So I wanted to share a few tips with you guys which have helped me to boost my confidence in the gym:

  1. Go in with a plan = No matter how much experience you have, going to the gym without a set course of action of what your session will entail can lead to a bad session and confusion. Take a few minutes to write down exactly what you are going to do. Not only does this help to ensure that you use your time in the gym efficiently, but if you have any doubts about anything at this stage you can ask someone or look it up.
  1. Get yourself a gym buddy = Having someone to workout with can make the gym seem less intimidating. A gym buddy can also help keep you motivated and make you more accountable. If you’re able to get a training partner who has more experience in the gym you also gain to learn from them.
  1. Personal Training = No matter what stage you’re at in your fitness journey I believe that there is always room for improvement and for the broadening of knowledge. Getting advice and help from a personal trainer (especially if you’re new) can give you the tools necessary to navigate yourself around the gym with confidence.

Hope you guys find these tips helpful

Jay xx

Self-Love: Practice Makes Progress

 

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We often overlook the things we can’t easily measure progress with and unfortunately self-love falls within this category. As with any other goal there will be good days. The ones where you feel confident and happy in your own skin. But, there will also be bad days, when you want to sit in your sweatpants with messy hair and drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

No journey is linear. Regardless of the goal you set, there will be ups and down. The important thing is to keep practicing the habits that will help you make progress. No matter how small that progress may seem. 

Companies and society have been benefitting from our insecurities for years. We fear natural process such as ageing (getting wrinkles and grey hair) because we are constantly told that we should buy products to avoid it. Despite the fact that there is no such thing as perfection we constantly criticise ourselves and buy into products which cover up our uniqueness (which some people may refer to as flaws).

Life is too short to be spent trying to live up to societies expectations. So the following are a few practices which can help you continually make progress with self-love:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others
  2. Lines on your stomach aren’t going to create eternal happiness
  3. Be kind to yourself 
  4. People are going to think what they want of you, regardless of what you say or do. So don’t bother yourself with what others think
  5. Practice speaking to yourself in the way you would speak to those you love. 

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

You Over-indulged! Now what?

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When I was just beginning my fitness journey I strived to be perfect. I didn’t want to miss a session or eat anything “bad” and if I did I thought the only solution was to restrict my calories and exercise more. I couldn’t have been more wrong. You should never punish yourself with exercise and by restricting food intake just because you ate something you enjoy.

In an ideal world we’ll always be able to strike the right balance and moderation, when eating the foods that we enjoy that aren’t nutrient dense. However, the reality is that we are human and sometimes we’ll have a bit more to drink than is ideal or help ourselves to a few too many slices of cake. 

So I decided to share a few tips with you guys on what to do when these situations happen:

  1. Get back on track with your next meal: just because you have overdone it on this occasion does not mean that all your hard work and discipline has gone to waste. Take the opportunity to get back on track with your next meal. Don’t just say “fuck it” and continue to binge. If you dropped your phone and the screen cracked, would you keep throwing it about to make it worse? So why do the same with your nutrition?
  1. Don’t use exercise as punishment: Just as you should go back to eating as normal without restricting food, you should continue to train as you usually would. Don’t do endless hours of cardio! Exercise is meant to be enjoyed, it should never be a form of punishment for eating things that we enjoy. 
  1. Address underlying issues: Sometimes food is used as a coping mechanism. Personally when I’m stressed or sleep deprived I tend to crave sugary things and find it harder to be disciplined. Addressing what is causing me stress and ensuring that I am getting enough sleep helps me to avoid binging and over-indulging

I hope you guys found these helpful.

Jay xx

Tips to keep your training consistency during the dark and cold months

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With the start of Autumn in the horizon and the falling of leaves comes the unfortunate end of bright warm and sunny mornings. Instead of waking up to sunshine you wake up to darkness and the sound of howling wind and rain. The long, dark and grey days start to impact your mood and you may find that it takes a lot more to get you through your daily routine (including your workouts). 

I thought I would share with you guys a few tips on how to combat these Autumn blues and ensure that you make the most of this season.

  1. Discipline = Make sure you create discipline as eliminating the dependence on outside factors (such as your mood) will give you the tools to focus on the long-term achievement of your goals so that you do what you need to do instead of what you want to do. For example create a consistent training schedule and stick to it. 
  2. Set a big goal = Setting a reasonable, measurable and realistic goal (such as improving strength or successfully performing an exercise that you’ve struggled on) will help to keep you motivated and give you something to look forward to before the end of the year. 
  3. An awesome playlist = Studies have shown that music has several benefits on the human brain which include boosting our moods, distracting the brain from fatigue and even helping in increasing endurance. 
  4. Get a training partner = Having someone to train with makes you more likely to stick to your fitness goals and also helps to hold you accountable. The right training partner can also help to increase your training intensity by giving you that little extra push. 
  5. Get involved in seasonal activities = embrace the cold and take on the elements while having fun through activities such as ice-skating, snowboarding and skiing. 

Hope you guys find these helpful 

Love 

Jay xx

The Dangers of Dieting for a Holiday

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Many people find booking a trip away a great source of motivation to finally embark or to stay on track with fitness and weight-loss goals. Is there anything wrong with wanting to look and feel your best on a holiday? Absolutely not! 

The problem is that for the majority of people trying to get into good shape for a holiday tends to lead to overly restrictive eating and quick fix approaches to nutrition and exercise. So when that holiday finally does come around they tend to binge and eat mostly all the foods that they had denied themselves, their body reacts like a sponge and then when they come back home they are heavier than when they left and are now lacking a source of motivation (the holiday). Does this sound a bit like you?

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t look to get into better shape or that you can’t use a holiday as a source of motivation. Just understand that motivation in general (be it an external or internal source) is fickle and unreliable, because it is dependent on our moods and feelings. Instead you should focus on building discipline to help you do what you need to do, especially when you don’t want to. 

Instead of using restrictive and drastic approaches to nutrition and exercise, use methods which are sustainable and will ensure that you adhere to your goals and plans in the long term. This means that when a holiday comes along you won’t feel deprived and so will be more likely to realise that you can still eat nutrient dense foods while enjoying all the treats that you holiday destination has to offer. Moreover, once you’ve returned from you holiday you will be more likely to get back to your exercise routine. 

Now I know this doesn’t sound glamorous or sexy but its simple and effective. Quick fixes lead to short lived results (if those results are even reached in the first place). Focus on building discipline and being consistent on a daily basis instead of attempting to be perfect occasionally. 

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx

Listening to Your Body Overtraining: the Dangers, the Signs and the Remedy

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You only get one body so you need to take good care of it. For this reason I’m a strong believer in listening to your body and giving it what it needs That being said I’ll admit that I’m not always the best at listening to the cues that my body gives me. I’ve definitely improved and thanks to my own knowledge and that of those who I surround myself with I’m better able to identify what it is that my body needs. Today I want to share some of that knowledge with you guys because I think it is extremely important to differentiate between when you need to push yourself and when you need to ease back and maybe even give yourself more time to rest and recover. 

There are different variations of overtraining (a.k.a burnout, chronic fatigue and over stress) but put simply it can be described as the result of placing more stress on the body than it is able to recover from to the point of causing plateaus and decreases in performance. 

Signs of Overtraining

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

How to Avoid or Remedy Overtraining 

  • Reducing training volumes or intensity 
  • Taking extra recovery days 
  • Getting more sleep 
  • Ensuring you’re eating enough 
  • Sports therapy massage 
  • Ensuring your training program is well planned and periodised 

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves to Strangers Online

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I think it is great to draw fitness motivation and inspiration from others. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy social media. However, I feel that far too often this is taken too far. You shouldn’t eat “x” amount of calories simply because that’s what your favourite IG model eats or trains “x” amount of tines a week because that how often they train. 

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

While I do think that there is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, constantly comparing and competing with others just creates a losing battle and can lead to low levels of self-esteem and unhealthy habits. There needs to be a shift from feeling that you need to do better than others towards focusing on improving on your own practices be that in the gym or with your approach to nutrition. 

There also needs to be a shift away from constantly focusing on negatives. So what if you don’t have visible abs? Are a few lines on your stomach really going to make a difference to your life?  Instead place your attention on the positives. Maybe you don’t have visible abs but you can squat your bodyweight or more, or maybe you can perform an exercise now that you couldn’t do a few months ago. Our bodies are constantly proving how amazing they are yet 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. Who you are is amazing. 

Just some food for thought. 

Jay xx

DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

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Firstly WTF are DOMS?

Have you ever felt pain and stiffness in your muscles several hours or even days after working out or performing some type of physical activity? Have simple activities such as walking, picking up things you’ve dropped on the floor or even going to toilet ever felt difficult the day (or a few days) after a workout? Well, that my friends is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). 

Put more eloquently DOMS can be defined as “a product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the connective tissue elements that sensitise nociceptors and thereby heighten the sensations of pain.”

What Causes DOMS and who is affected?

DOMS can affect anyone and typically occur when someone is starting workout out, when changing up an exercise routine and performing new/different movements or when the duration or intensity of a workout is increased. 

Will I always get DOMS?

Overtime (if you are consistent with your exercise routine) your body and muscles will begin to adapt to the physical demands being placed on them. This results in increased stamina, strength and recovery and decreased soreness and stiffness after exercise. 

How do I make my DOMS go away?

  • Rest – ensure you are giving your muscles enough time to repair and recover after exercise.
  • Ice or Heat – Studies have shown that applying ice or heat to the affected muscles can result in a reduction of pain.
  • Gentle Massage – Studies have also shown that gentle massages can result in “a reduction of the duration and severity of DOMS.”
  • Physical Activity – While this point my seem counterintuitive research has shown that certain activities such as cycling and swimming can ease muscle soreness and stiffness (however, only temporarily). 

Preventing DOMS?

In some cases DOMS will be unavoidable and while you can’t prevent it outright there are a few things you can do to minimise its effects:

  • If you’re new to exercise or using a new exercise routine be sure to build up to it gradually, that way you give your muscles time to adapt. 
  • Ensuring that you are getting the right type of nutrition before and after a workout can help to ease soreness.

Just some food for thought

Jay