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

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

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

The Mental Impact of Food

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When we think about the effect that food has on our body, we tend to focus on the physical effects and underestimate (if not completely ignore) the mental impact food has on us (e.g. our mood, sleep and energy levels).

Studies have shown that diets which are well-balanced and full of nutrient dense foods can lead to a reduction in mood swings, anxiety and depression. This is due to the nutrients in these foods helping the brain to produce serotonin (a.k.a. the happy chemical) which among other functions helps our bodies to “regulate sleep, appetite, mediate moods and inhibit pain.” 

Studies have also shown that consumption of foods that maintain blood sugar levels can help us to stabilise our mood. 

5 Mood Boosting Foods

  1. Oily Fish: Regularly eating oily fish (i.e. salmon, mackerel and sardines) help to reduce the risks of depression and anxiety.
  2. Oats: Help us to maintain a stable mood, through slowly releasing energy into our bloodstream.
  3. Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds: These all contain magnesium which can help boost the production of serotonin (the happy chemical).
  4. Eggs: contain nutrients which help to improve our mood
  5. Chocolate: Regular consumption of chocolate (of the dark variety) helps to boost the production of serotonin and is linked to reduced stress and anxiety levels. 

Just some food for thought (or feels).

Jay xx

Carbs: The Dark Lord of Macronutrients

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Firstly, what are carbs? 

Carbs (a.k.a carbohydrates) are molecules which are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbs are one of the three macronutrients that make up our diets. All carbs are made up of units called saccharides which form three basic carb types.

  1. Simple carbs also known as sugar
  2. Complex carbs also known as starch 
  3. Non-starch Polysaccharides (NSP) also know as fibre 

What do carbs do for us? 

Their primary role is to provide our bodies with energy, but carbs also play an important role in “the structure and function of cells, tissues and organs.” 

Why are Carbs seen as the source of all evil (a.k.a the Voldemort of the food world)?

Due to increasing waist lines of the general population in recent years, we have looked to find a way to explain it rather than accepting as a population we are over consuming food and doing less and less physical activity.  

It used to be fat that was demonised by the press and food industry. It is now Carbohydrates and sugars that are viewed as the problem. It is easy to blame sugar and carbohydrates as they are often found in the foods we overeat as well as fizzy drinks and fruit juices

So what is the point of all this info? 

CARBS WILL NOT MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT!

For many people the go to solution for losing weight is to cut carbs from their diet. Cutting carbs from your diet can lead to a large drop in weight, however, the weight lost will be made-up predominately of water and not body fat percentage. Often after a couple of weeks (if they even make it that long) people end up falling off the wagon and binge/over-eat. The end result is that they end up putting all the weight they lost back on. 

Why does this happen? 

Cutting carbs completely is not a sustainable way to diet as people will often experience low energy/mood as well as finding their food choices limiting and uninteresting. 

In fact, many studies have shown that calorie controlled diets which contain carbohydrate sources such as bread have a far higher adherence rate as well as being much more sustainable for the general population.

The take-away (no pun intended) from this blog post is that as long as you are eating in a calorie deficit, it does not matter if you are continuing to eat carbohydrates, fats or protein! 

Keep your protein high! Eat in a deficit! And you will lose weight!

Just some food for thought. 

Jay and Liam xx

Getting Your Body Summer Ready

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Last week Thursday those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere officially welcomed summer. For many people the start of summer acts as a reminder of the goals and intentions that we set out at the start of the year to exercise more and eat better. 

I’m a big fan of anything that gets people moving and makes them more mindful of what their eating. However, a big issue with the coming of this season is that people usually engage in drastic and restrictive forms of diet and exercise to fulfil short-lived (if even achieved) goals. 

In light of that, I thought I’d share a few tips with you guys to help you not just achieve you a summer body but to achieve your dream body and maintain it: 

  1. Fitness is a state of constant becoming, it’s not a destination: Unless you’re competing for a physique competition and require strict dieting, you should aim to only implement eating and exercise habits that you can see yourself sticking to in the long-term. Here’s the thing, just because you achieve your goal doesn’t mean that you get to stop eating well and exercising. These things have to continue to allow you to maintain your goal once you get there. Chances are that if you hate what you’re eating and the way you’re training, you’ll be unlikely to stick to your training and nutrition plans in the long-term. 
  1. Patience, patience and some more patience: We live in a society where pretty much anything we want is available to us at the click of a button. Unfortunately, we can’t just amazon prime our dream body. You didn’t get to where your are overnight, so you are not going to get to where you want to be overnight either. I can’t stress this point enough. For the majority of us, achieving our dream bodies will take a long time. But, ultimately the time is going to go by anyway, so we may as well spend it doing something productive. 
  1. Expect mistakes and setbacks: There is no such thing as perfection. Achieving your dream body is not going to be a linear journey. There are going to be ups and downs. The important thing is not to give up. Learn from mistakes and learn to better cope with things that get you off track. 

Now I know that none of these tips may be what you guys wanted to hear. Trust me if there was an Amazon Prime for your dream body I’d be the first one ordering it. I do hope you guys find these tips helpful. Train smart, eat well and enjoy life.

Just some food for thought.

Jay xx

Tips On How to Maintain Goal Weight

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Achieving a fat-loss goal can be extremely difficult, but arguably maintaining that goal is even harder. Majority of people regain weight and end up in a cycle of losing weight and regaining that weight. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that only 20% of individuals are successful at maintaining weight loss in the long-term. 

This shouldn’t however discourage anyone from attempting to achieve their goals. I’ve devised a list with a few tips to help maintain weight loss in the long-term: 

  1. Self-love = This may sound very kumbaya but its important to learn to come from a place of love when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Learning to truly love yourself and your body is important. You need to be realistic and understand that while there are certain things (such as your body measurements and composition) that you can change there are things that you may not be able to change (such as your body structure). 
  1. Make sustainable changes = One of the reasons people fail to maintain weight loss is because of the approaches they take to lose weight. Often times people use approaches to nutrition that are overly restrictive and will throw everything into training (i.e. no rest days or training too many times a week) which results in failure not only to achieve their end goal but also in failure to maintain that goal if they do achieve it. Make sure that you take things a step at a time and make sustainable changes that you can see yourself sticking to long after you’ve achieved your goal 
  1. Consistency = This tip follows on from the last one. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in the group of individuals who had successfully maintained long-term weight loss one of the factors was “continued adherence to diet and exercise strategies” aka consistency. One of my favourite quotes says that “exercise is not a destination, it is a constant state of becoming.” You need to realise that it’s a lifestyle and that you are creating habits of eating well and exercising regularly which you should continue to practice for the rest of your life and not just for the sole purpose of achieving your goal. 
  1. Mistakes and Setback will happen = While losing weight and maintaining weight loss in theory is simple in practice it can be difficult because we are trying to replace old habits with new ones. Realise that you will make mistakes and that things won’t always go according to plan. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes and avoid repeating them and to keep pushing forward. 
  1. Patience = We live in a society where we are accustomed to things happening in the quickest and easiest way possible. In the case of fat-loss however, we must be patient because things will take a long time. You didn’t get to where you are overnight so you are not going to get to where you want to be overnight. “Don’t let the time it takes to achieve a goal put you off of trying. The time will pass either way, you may as well spend it doing something productive.”

Hope these are helpful. 

Jay