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

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

Jay’s Top 10 Fitness Tips

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In celebration of another 365 days on this beautiful planet, I thought I would put together a list of my top fitness tips to share with you guys.

  1. Set a goal: Your goal will act as a source of motivation. Make sure your goals are specific and realistic.
  1. Create a plan to achieve that goal: Once you’ve determined what your goal is set out a plan that will ensure that you will achieve that goal.
  1. Choose and approach to training and nutrition: make sure that your training and nutrition plan are sustainable and allow you to train and eat in a way that you enjoy. This way you are more likely to stick to it. 
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others: Stop focussing on what everyone else is doing. Focus on improving your own practices daily. 
  1. Being healthy goes beyond the physical aspect: Being healthy is not just about looking good. It is easy to take fitness to an extreme. It is not healthy to deprive yourself of food or rest. Make sure you are also taking care of your mind and overall wellbeing. 
  1. Stop looking to quick fixes: If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Quick fixes are dangerous and will often leave you in a worse position than where you started off.
  1. Motivation is overrated, create discipline: Motivation is an amazing tool, however, it will come and go. Focus on building discipline and creating daily habits that will ensure that you always do what you need to do, especially when you don’t want to.
  1. Sleep and recovery are important: Sleep and recovery are just as important as your training. Make sure you’re not overlooking their importance.
  1. Ask for help: If you are struggling in a certain area (i.e. training, nutrition, goal setting, etc) just ask for help.
  1. Be consistent: This is hands down the best fitness advice I have ever received in my life. You don’t have to be perfect, you just need to be consistent. It’s what we do most of the time that matters.

Hope you guys find these helpful.

Jay xx

Why You Should Be Your Own #BodyGoals

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We all have different people we admire for different reasons. One of the things I love about social media is its ability to connect me with other like-minded people, giving me a sense of community as well as allowing me to feel close to those that I admire. However, everything in life comes with its downsides and social media is no exception. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a person who you look up to and who motivates you to better yourself, be that in terms of health and fitness, business or generally just becoming a better human being. The danger is that people often take this admiration too far and want to become the people that they admire. 

The most obvious example of this is when people set goals to look exactly like someone else. Often these are unrealistic goals because as individuals we are one of a kind. We could be on the exact same nutrition and exercise program as the person we admire but the results would still be different.

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.

We need to learn that we can admire others and be inspired by them, wanting to achieve goals in the same way they have but still love ourselves, our bodies and the things that make us different. There needs to be a shift away from feeling that we need to do better than others and towards focussing on improving our practices be that in the gym or with our approach to nutrition.

The main reason I wanted to share this post is because I feel that when we go too far in admiring other and comparing ourselves to them we can begin to feel inadequate in ourselves. 

“Never forget there is only one of you and you are as breathtaking as they come.” -E. Russell

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx

Right Now: Better You!

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With all the festivities and events around this time of year it can be easy to put off your fitness goals and tell yourself that you’ll start in the new year. The danger with this kind of mindset is that your motivation quickly disappears and before January has even come to end, you’ve already given up on your goals. There is also the risk that when the new year comes around you won’t start your fitness journey at all. 

Why do we struggle to adopt or maintain fit and healthy habits when we set ourselves fitness goals as a new years resolution? Quite simply, when embarking on our fitness journeys we tend to want to over-complicate and overdo things. For example: we’ll go from not going to the gym at all to going six times a week. The end result is that we are overwhelmed and find that our approach is unsustainable. We struggle to adhere to it and soon after give up on the goal altogether. 

So what can we do ensure that this does not happen again next year? There are still two months to go before the year is over, so instead of waiting until January we can make a start on our goals RIGHT NOW. Break it down, determine what your goal is. Do you want to lose weight, get leaner, get stronger, just exercise more and eat better? Once you’ve determined what your goal is you can create a plan that will help you to achieve that goal. Remember to keep things simple, focus on the basics. You wouldn’t go on the motorway in first driving lesson. The same applies to the gym. Focus on the basics: consistency, nutrition and recovery. Once you’ve nailed the basics you can then start playing around with training and nutrition and seeing what things work for you. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of the choices we make on a daily basis, because overtime these daily choices add up and can either be a benefit or a detriment to our overall goal. For example: right now my goal is to get stronger and hit a triple bodyweight deadlift. If I decide not to do one of my deadlift sessions this week, that decision doesn’t affect my goal in the long term, however, if this decision starts to become a habit and I’m missing sessions frequently this then adds up and I’m unlikely to achieve my goal in the long term. 

Key points to take away from today’s post:

  • There is no better time than the present, get started on your goals now.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself, take it slow and focus on the basics.
  • Focus on making small improvement everyday, because it’s these seemingly insignificant choices that have the biggest impact on our overall goal.

Just some food for thought.

Jay

You’ve Finally Got A Gym Membership: Now What?

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So you finally took a step towards achieving your goals and joined the gym. Now what? 

The gym can be a bit of a daunting place, especially if you’re new to it. So I thought I’d share a few tips with you guys regarding what your next steps should be:

  1. Set a goal = Sit down and have a think about what it is that you want to get out of the gym. Maybe you want to get stronger, build muscle, lose weight or generally just improve your lifestyle.
  1. Create a plan = Once you’ve determined what your goal is, you should set up a plan that will help you to achieve your goal. 
  1. Create a routine and build discipline = Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do too much at once. Focus on creating sustainable habits you can keep up in the long-term. 
  1. Ask for help = Get an experienced gym buddy or personal trainer to help you out. A training buddy/personal trainer has the added bonus of giving you motivation and making you more accountable. 

Hope you guys find these tips helpful.

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

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