Supplements & Your Fitness Goals: A brief overview

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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.

I did mention that I thought that there are certain supplements which could be beneficial a few of these are:

  • Vitamin D = In regions where the sunlight can be sparse or non-existent vitamin D supplements can help to ensure that the bones, teeth and muscles are kept healthy
  • Magnesium =  Plays several important roles in the health of our bodies and brain.

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

My Top 25 Fitness Tips

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After celebrating 25 years on this beautiful planet I thought I’d share with you guys my top 25 fitness tips that I have picked up along the years. I hope that you find them helpful:

  1. Set goals
  1. Aim for balance
  1. Make sure you enjoy the approach to training and nutrition that you choose
  1. There is no such thing as perfection, aim for progress
  1. Motivation will come and go so make sure you build discipline in order to stay on track to achieving your goals
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others (whether these are people you actually know or people on instagram and other social media)
  1. Being healthy is not just about looking good physically, your mental health is just as important as your physical health, don’t neglect it
  1. More is not always better. Don’t overlook rest and recovery as they are just as important in helping achieve your goals as your training days
  1. If you are just starting out your fitness journey getting a personal trainer can be extremely beneficial (just make sure you do your research and pick someone who will help you achieve your goals)
  1. Sometimes life will get in the way and your fitness might take a back seat, that is absolutely normal so don’t beat yourself up over it
  1. This one is a cliché but you really can’t out train a bad diet
  1. Be more active outside of the gym. Make sure you get your 10 000 steps a day, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, walk instead of taking the bus or train (if possible)
  1. Make sure you have a plan in place to achieve your goals
  1. The scale is not the only way to measure progress. Don’t get sucked into being obsessive about your weight
  1. If you struggle to train on your own consider getting a gym buddy or get involved in group exercises
  1. Make sure you are adequately hydrated as hydration is not only important for fitness and weight loss goals but also important for overall health
  1. Whether or not you track macros planning what you are going to eat in advance will not only help you stay on track but can also help you save money when you go shopping as you are more likely to only pick up what you need instead of mindlessly shopping
  1. Just because something works for someone else doesn’t mean it will or has to work for you. Make sure you stick to what works best for you
  1. If you are struggling to achieve your goals, don’t always look to blame outside factors. Make sure you are being honest with yourself about just how committed you are and what you can do to improve (i.e nutrition or training consistency)
  1. Be patient. Achieving your goal is not going to be a linear journey. There will be ups and downs, there will be mistakes, there will be things you could do better. You will get frustrated just don’t give up
  1. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Don’t get sucked into wasting your money on detox teas, waist trainers and fat burners. You don’t need these things to achieve your fitness goals
  1. Regardless of what approach you choose to take, make sure it is a sustainable one. Extreme approaches lead to dangerous habits and short-term results
  1. Make sure you challenge yourself, don’t get complacent
  1. Don’t get deterred by how long it will take to achieve your goal. The time will pass either way, so you may as well spend it doing something productive
  1. Be consistent 

Stress & It’s Impact on the Body

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Everybody experiences stress from time to time and while stress can be beneficial to us in short-term situations prolonged exposure to it can lead to chronic illness. It is not uncommon for us to think illness is at the root of some symptoms when stress may actually be the real culprit. In a recent study the Mayo Clinic discovered that stress symptoms can affect our body, our thoughts, our feelings and behaviour.

Effects of Stress Include: 

  • Headache, fatigue and insomnia
  • Anxiety, irritability and depression
  • Over/under eating, social withdrawal, lack of motivation

How you can reduce stress levels:

  • Researches have found that participating in activities which boost our mood can help to lower stress levels
  • Identifying what is causing you to feel stress and devise a plan to address it
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep and rest
  • Seek help from professionals who can help you to manage your stress

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

Benefits Of Including Cardio Into Your Exercise Routine

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Recently I feel as if cardio has gotten a bad rep. Don’t get me wrong I do think that cardio can be misused (e.g. when people do nothing but cardio hoping to meet their fitness goals). However there are benefits to cardio-vascular exercise when it’s used correctly.

 

 

So what are these benefits I keep harping on about? 

  1. Improves heart health
  2. Improves your recovery time
  3. Boosts your mood and can help tackle anxiety and stress
  4. Boosts your immune system
  5. It promotes brain health
  6. Can help regulate diabetes
  7. Can help you lose or maintain weight

How often should you do cardio?

It’s recommended that for overall cardiovascular health and individual perform 30 minutes of low intensity aerobic exercise 5 days a week or 25 minutes vigorous exercise 3 times a week.

Some of my favourite cardio exercises

  1. Walking = including cardio into your life doesn’t mean you have to spend more time in the gym. Walking can be done anywhere
  2. Swimming 
  3. Interval Sprints 
  4. Rowing 
  5. Stair Master 
  6. Circuit Training 

Just make sure you enjoy the form of cardio you include into your routine.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

The Negative Impact Lack of Sleep has on your body

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Sleep is often an overlooked factor when it comes to being healthy. In a Harvard study conducted in 2008 experts concluded that “getting enough high-quality sleep may be as important to health and well-being as nutrition and exercise.” We all know the common signs of a bad night’s sleep which include being tired, grumpy, irritable and lacking focus. However, the effect that a poor night’s sleep has on our body and health go far beyond being in a bad mood and not being able to focus.

10 Effects Lack of Sleep can have on Your Body 

  1. Obesity
  2. Diabetes
  3. Cardiovascular disease and hypertension (e.g. heart attack)
  4. Depression and anxiety
  5. Lower sex drive
  6. Weakens immune system
  7. Lowers life expectancy
  8. Ages your skin
  9. Makes it difficult to conceive
  10. Slows down brain function

How much sleep should you get? 

According to the NHS the average individual requires 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. There is also no way of cheating getting the sleep you need. while coffee and other caffeinated drinks may give you the energy boost that you need to get you through the day they can’t make up for the vital functions our bodies undergo during sleep and may disrupt our sleep pattern in the long run.  Make sure you guys aren’t overlooking the important functions of sleep and are getting enough good quality sleep.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

The Dark Side of Fitness: An Unhealthy Active Lifestyle

 

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We tend to associate working out and eating nutritious food in a positive manner. However, it is possible for people to take this lifestyle to an extreme and transform what should otherwise be healthy habits into unhealthy ones. The fact that it is harder to identify when someone is leading an unhealthy active lifestyle since on the surface going to the gym and eating well are typically good things, makes it even more dangerous.

People are often so consumed by focusing on the physical side of being healthy that they neglect their mental health which is equally as important. Too often people are afraid to take rest days because they feel that they may lose their progress or they create anxiety around certain foods and under eat. When it comes to fitness you really can get “too much of a good thing” and more is not always better.

Excessive exercise and restrictive eating not only affect your body but your life including your day-to-day routine and your relationships with others. An unhealthy active lifestyle can lead to a variety of issues including insomnia, loss of menstrual cycles for women, reduction in testosterone levels for men, injuries, eating disorders, plateaus in performance and weight loss, body dysmorphia  and in some cases depression.

In order to reap the positive benefits of exercise and eating well it is important that you implement balance in your life. What exactly that balance will be will vary for every individual and how to find it will be a case of trial and error. It is essential however, that you allow your body the adequate rest, recovery and nutrition that it needs in order to cope with the stresses you place it under. It is also good for your mind and soul to take breaks from your routine and enjoy time with friends and loved ones without feeling guilt about not exercising or not counting every single calorie that enters your body.

If you or anyone you know struggles with this it is important to seek help and begin to address these issues as they can have a very negative impact on your life. Also feel free to get in touch with me.

Just some food for thought

Jay xx

Jay’s Double Chocolate Protein Pancakes

 

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Ingredients 

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons flour (your choice I tend use coconut or buckwheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons oats
  • 30 ml milk (your choice I tend touse hazelnut or almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon butter (alternatively you can choose an oil (e.g. coconut or olive oil)
  • Toppings: chocolate spread, strawberry jam and frozen raspberries (alternatively pick your own choice of toppings)

Method 

  1. Blend all the ingredients together
  2. Place pan on low heat on stove top, melt the butter and coat the bottom of the pan with it. Wait until the pan is nice and hot. To test whether it is hot enough flick water at it with your hand and it should sizzle
  3. Take the pancake mixture (according to the size you want to make you pancakes) and place it in the pan. Wait until you see bubbles all on the surface of the pancake and then flip it over and wait until it is cooked through.
  4. Stack them up on a plate and cover with your choice of toppings in the above picture I’ve used chocolate spread, strawberry jam and frozen raspberries

Enjoy

Jay xx

The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves to Strangers Online

4F42AEF8-BFFC-4D45-B9A4-2A9C439E2B81I 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 times 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.

“Admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own.” -unknown

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx

Tips to maintain training consistency during the dark and cold months

imagesWith the start of Autumn 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 and winter blues.

  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 (by making you less likely to bail on your training sessions) 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