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

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

Tips to Lead a Healthier and Fitter 2019

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Happy New Year peeps, I hope that you have all enjoyed the festive season.

It’s that time of year when motivation is running high and we are all committed to being better versions of ourselves. 

For most of us this self-improvement will include leading a healthier 2019, so I thought I’d put together a list of tips to help not only achieve these goals but to ensure that you are committed to them all year, especially once all the “new year, new you” motivation fades.

Jay’s Top Tips:

  1. Focus on building small daily habits: don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change too much at once. Instead of trying to change everything at once pick one thing to focus on. For example picking to focus on being consistent with training and once you’ve achieved that moving on to focusing on improving nutrition. 
  1. Learn to enjoy the process: people often get so focused on achieving their desired results or goals, that they forget the importance of enjoying the journey that gets them there. You wouldn’t stop working hard after getting a promotion at work. The same is true for achieving goals at the gym. This is one of the reason that quick fixes and fad diets don’t work.
  1. Plan ahead: if you keep waiting for the perfect time to train you’ll likely find yourself occupied with other tasks and end up too busy and stressed to go. Instead of trying to find the time you have to make the time. Just as I make sure that I schedule out time to fit in working out I also take the time to plan out what I’ll be eating for the week. Regardless of your approach to nutrition and whether or not you track macros there are several benefits to planning your meals in advance, such as not having to stress yourself out thinking about what to eat on the days that you are extremely busy and therefore can help you avoid making convenient and unhealthy choices.
  1. There is no such thing as perfection: no journey will work out exactly according to plan. You have to accept the fact that you will make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. There will be ups and downs, there will be bad days, don’t let them put you off of achieving your goals.
  1. Be consistent: the best fitness advice I’ve ever gotten is to focus on being consistent instead of constantly going from one extreme (training intensely and attempting to eat perfectly) to the other (not training at all and bingeing). Applying sustainable training and nutritional habits will help you to be consistent in the long-term.

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

Jay’s Top Tips to Achieving #Self-love

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A few months back I wrote a blog post on the importance of self-love and ensuring that you create a good relationship with yourself.  Today I would like to build up on that message and share with you guys some tips on how to improve your relationship with yourself. 

  1. Practice Positive Self-talk: Take time out of every day to practice focussing on the things about you that you love. You can start by choosing three things (and this can be anything) that you love about yourself and you can either stand in front of a mirror and say them to yourself or write them down.
  1. Stop comparing yourself to others: This is a big one. One of my favourite quotes is that “we need to learn to admire the beauty of others, without calling our own into question.” By all means be inspired and motivated by others, but don’t allow their achievements to make you feel like you are not good enough. If following a particular page on social media is causing you to feel bad about yourself don’t follow it.
  1. Acceptance & change: There are certain things about ourselves that we need to learn to accept, by this I mean the things that you can’t change. For me this is my legs, I have always felt that they have been huge and have spent far too many years of my life trying to get them to appear smaller. The fact is that I can’t really change my legs much, so they’ve become something that I have learnt to love. However, self-love and wanting to improve yourself don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Making positive changes such as eating better, exercising more, doing more of the things that you love and surrounding yourself with people who lift you up all are things that you are able to do which can help you to improve the relationship you have with yourself. 

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

Hope you guys find these helpful. 

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

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