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

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

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

Review: Simply Simon – Peanut Butter Balls

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When it comes to sweet vs savoury, I’m team sweet. For that reason I always ensure that there is something in my meal prep that will satisfy my sweet tooth. Recently, though I found that I kept eating the same things. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy what I eat, but variety is the spice of life and I want to make sure that I don’t get bored with my food. I spoke to my good friend Simon and he supplied me with these amazing peanut butter balls in the photo above. 

Initial reaction: I felt that they were quite small, but was happily surprised at how filling these little guys were. I had three of them a day and not only did they satisfy my sweet tooth but they also helped give me a cheeky afternoon energy boost.

Texture: The oats on the outside of the peanut balls provides a nice crunch to compliment their soft gooey interior (trying my best to sound like one of the judges on Masterchef here).

Taste: If you like peanut butter these taste phenomenal.

Macros Per Peanut Butter Ball:

Calories: 71

Fat 2.3g

Carbs 12.2g

Protein 2g]

Simon also provides meal prep as well as cooking classes. You can find him on instagram @simplysimonchef or check out his website http://simplysimonchef.com 

If you’re interested (you’d be crazy not to be) be sure to get in touch with him. 

I know you’ll enjoy these as much as I did.

Jay xx

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

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

5 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight

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Weight loss is a relatively simple process. Note I said simple not easy. Let’s face it, ultimately when we want to lose weight we know exactly what it is that we need to do.  For example: it may be that we need to make better food choices and exercise more. So why is that we struggle so much with it? The answer is relatively simple, we struggle because implementing the changes we need to achieve our goals involves changing our habits and behaviour. Changing habits we have built over many years can be extremely challenging, but it is not impossible.

Here are 5 reasons you aren’t losing weight:

  1. You can’t find the time: I know this one is a bit of a cliché but it is so true. You can’t just expect to find the time to exercise. You should make the time for it. Treat your workouts the same way you would a doctor’s appointment. No one is going to make the time for you, you have to make the time for yourself.
  1. You’re underestimating how much you are eating: This one is a very common reason for struggling with weight loss. People often underestimate how much they are eating and don’t take into account all the little snacking that’s done throughout the day. ALL CALORIES COUNT. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you can’t enjoy treats and the foods that aren’t nutrient dense but make you happy. Just realise that these shouldn’t make up the majority of your diet. 
  1. You’re focused on the wrong things: Far too often people focus on minor factors that don’t really affect them or their goals. For example what the best time to workout is, what supplements they should be taking, whether HITT cardio is better than LISS cardio. Don’t get me wrong these are things that have a role to play eventually. But for the majority of us, the most important thing is to focus on building discipline, getting into a routine and being consistent.
  1. You’re not consistent: Following on from the last point consistency is key. You can’t expect to see results and weight-loss if you only eat well and exercise some of the time. It’s what you do most of the time that will determine what your results will be. Don’t be perfect, be consistent.
  1. You’re not getting enough good quality sleep: 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.” When we don’t get enough sleep we feel tired, grumpy and lack focus. While the odd  bad nights sleep won’t do us any harm, several nights of lack of sleep will have considerable negative impact on our fitness goals and our health. Not to mention lack of sleep can lead to increased appetite, which can lead to eating more which can result in weight gain.

Just some food for thought:

Jay xx

Being Healthy: Take Time Off the Gym

 

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Exercising and being disciplined are extremely important  factors when it comes to achieving our fitness goals. However, as with anything in life it is important that we implement balance and ensure that we get a break from our routines and give our bodies adequate time to rest and recover. 

Why is taking a break 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).

Refusing to take rest days and not giving your body time to recover is not only counterproductive to the goals you hope to achieve, but it is also an extremely unhealthy way of thinking. 

This past week I didn’t train at all and was not as regimented with my nutrition as I would usually be. I didn’t lose my gains and I’ve not turned into a massive blob. Instead, I feel rested and ready to smash a new block of training. 

The key point I want you guys to take away from today’s post is the importance of listening to your body and your mind. Be sure to give yourself a break from your routine and speak out if you feel anxiety about taking time away from the gym.

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx