Fitting Healthy Habits into a Busy Schedule

When you already have an extremely busy schedule and a lot of commitments (i.e. children, social engagements, a job that requires a lot of travel, working late night shifts, a lot assignments, etc) trying to find the time to hit the gym and prep meals can feel like an impossible task. 

So I thought I would share a few tips with you guys that have helped me continue to make healthy choices and keep with consistent with training, especially during the moments when life feels a bit chaotic. 

  1. Schedule: You can’t expect to find the time to hit the gym. I know that this is a cliche, but it’s true. You have to make the time and the best way to achieve that, is to plan ahead. I always take a day out (typically a Saturday or a Sunday) to schedule what I need to do and what I want to get done in the week to come, very Monica from Friends (I Know!) but it’s effective. Studies have shown that the simple act of planning beforehand (i.e. when and how you will do something) increases the likelihood of you actually doing it. 
  1. Plan Your Meals: Just as I make sure that I take the time to schedule my training sessions in advance, I also take the time to plan out what I’ll be eating in advance. Regardless of your approach to nutrition (whether you track your macros or eat intuitively) there are several benefits to planning your meals in advance. For starters, it can help you save money and avoid unnecessary food waste, because you head to the grocery store with a set list of items that you’ll use throughout the week. It also means, that you don’t have to stress yourself out thinking about what to have for dinner on days that you are extremely busy. This can also help you avoid making convenient and unhealthier choices. 
  1. Consistency is Key: To this day the best piece of training advice I’ve ever received is to “focus on being consistent, instead of constantly swinging from one extreme (training intensely and attempting to eat perfectly) to the other (not training at all and binging). Making sure that you always apply sustainable training and nutritional habits will help you remain consistent in the long term. 
  1. Don’t Let Fitness Take Over Your Life: I Spent far too much time believing that you should never miss a workout or eat unhealthy food. A belief which was only reaffirmed by thousands of posts I scrolled through on social media. The truth is that sometimes work and other priorities will get in the way and sometimes they should. It isn’t healthy to feel that you can t miss a workout or avoid time with friends and family because you are anxious about eating a meal which isn’t nutrient dense. Just like one workout and one salad won’t make you fit and healthy, missing a workout or not eating according to plan won’t make you unhealthy.

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

The Perfect Diet

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With the “New Year, New You” movement in full swing people tend to be extremely conscious of what they are eating. It is amazing that everyone is being mindful of what they are putting in their bodies and keen to improve their relationships with food. The problem is that the approaches chosen to do this tend to be extreme or restrictive.

Most people give up on their New Year resolutions by February, which is why I’m not a fan of them (but that is a whole other blog post topic for another day). 

With so many fitness and nutrition ads plastered all over television and social media I thought it might be helpful to address a few things.

Firstly there is no such thing as the perfect diet. There isn’t one secret ingredient or a miracle weight-loss cure that will enable you to shed several pounds overnight. Anything that promises rapid weight-loss or claims to “boost” or “kick-start” your metabolism is most likely a load of bull. 

Secondly just because it worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. We are all different and unique. Just because an approach or a lifestyle choice has worked for one of your close friends or someone you admire doesn’t mean it will work for you. Eating the same foods or amount of calories as your favourite IG model or YouTuber won’t yield the same results. 

Thirdly eating well doesn’t have to be complex nor does it mean eating foods you don’t enjoy. Far too often we over complicate things for ourselves which leads to us feeling overwhelmed. Eat foods you enjoy in a manner that will both help you achieve your goals and stay consistent in the long-term. 

I’m a big believer in balance when it comes to nutrition. This is tricky to define because a balanced approach will look different to everyone. What is balanced for one individual may not necessarily be balanced for another. 

It might be a case of trial and error until you find what works best for you, but if you can’t see yourself sticking to the approach to nutrition that you have chosen in the long-term, then you are doomed to fail before you even start. One of the main reasons that drastic approaches (i.e. cutting calories to an extremely low-level) don’t tend to work is because they are not enjoyable and more importantly unsustainable.

The key point I want you all to take from this post today is to make sure that you enjoy the approach you take and that it allows you to be consistent in the long-term. 

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

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

Tips to Help Build Confidence in the Gym

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The gym (and the free weights area in particular) can sometimes be an extremely intimidating place and make people feel self-conscious, especially when they are new to fitness or returning to it after a long time. 

People fear performing exercises incorrectly and being judged by other gym goers for lacking experience and being out of shape. This lack of confidence then leads to many people either performing excessive amounts of cardio (because the machinery and equipment is much easier to figure out) or avoiding the gym and exercise altogether. 

There was a time when I used to share the above concerns. So I wanted to share a few tips with you guys which have helped me to boost my confidence in the gym:

  1. Go in with a plan = No matter how much experience you have, going to the gym without a set course of action of what your session will entail can lead to a bad session and confusion. Take a few minutes to write down exactly what you are going to do. Not only does this help to ensure that you use your time in the gym efficiently, but if you have any doubts about anything at this stage you can ask someone or look it up.
  1. Get yourself a gym buddy = Having someone to workout with can make the gym seem less intimidating. A gym buddy can also help keep you motivated and make you more accountable. If you’re able to get a training partner who has more experience in the gym you also gain to learn from them.
  1. Personal Training = No matter what stage you’re at in your fitness journey I believe that there is always room for improvement and for the broadening of knowledge. Getting advice and help from a personal trainer (especially if you’re new) can give you the tools necessary to navigate yourself around the gym with confidence.

Hope you guys find these tips helpful

Jay xx

Tips to keep your training consistency during the dark and cold months

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With the start of Autumn in the horizon 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 blues and ensure that you make the most of this season.

  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 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

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