Self-love & the Impact of Social Media

As with anything in life social media has its pros and cons. It’s a great platform to bring people who share similar interests together. It also allows us to draw motivation and inspiration from others. However, social media can distort our perception of what is “normal” and often people can take drawing motivation and inspiration from others too far. 

Using fitness as an example, filling our social media feeds with people who are lean and shredded can lead us to view our bodies in a distorted manner. We can easily begin to focus on the negatives, believing that we need to look like these strangers online and have extremely low body fat percentage levels and a six pack.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we can draw fitness motivation and inspiration from others. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy social media. I just think that when you start altering how you live your life (such as how many calories you eat, what you eat, how you train, how often you train, etc) to look like someone else you’ve taken it too far. 

You and your lifestyle are unique. You have different goals and priorities, so how you train, how often you train, how you eat and what you eat should be tailored to you, your lifestyle and your goals. They shouldn’t just be a carbon copy of someone else’s. 

Our bodies are constantly proving how amazing they are, but 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.

I’m not claiming to have perfected the relationship with myself, as with any relationship in life it is not perfect, but I am working on it and I am investing in it because it is important. Changing my mindset and continually working on building a better relationship with myself has improved all areas of my life. Not only do I choose to focus on the positives but I’ve come to learn to love the things I once hated about myself.

Just some food for thought. 

Jay xx

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

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

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

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

DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

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Firstly WTF are DOMS?

Have you ever felt pain and stiffness in your muscles several hours or even days after working out or performing some type of physical activity? Have simple activities such as walking, picking up things you’ve dropped on the floor or even going to toilet ever felt difficult the day (or a few days) after a workout? Well, that my friends is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). 

Put more eloquently DOMS can be defined as “a product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the connective tissue elements that sensitise nociceptors and thereby heighten the sensations of pain.”

What Causes DOMS and who is affected?

DOMS can affect anyone and typically occur when someone is starting workout out, when changing up an exercise routine and performing new/different movements or when the duration or intensity of a workout is increased. 

Will I always get DOMS?

Overtime (if you are consistent with your exercise routine) your body and muscles will begin to adapt to the physical demands being placed on them. This results in increased stamina, strength and recovery and decreased soreness and stiffness after exercise. 

How do I make my DOMS go away?

  • Rest – ensure you are giving your muscles enough time to repair and recover after exercise.
  • Ice or Heat – Studies have shown that applying ice or heat to the affected muscles can result in a reduction of pain.
  • Gentle Massage – Studies have also shown that gentle massages can result in “a reduction of the duration and severity of DOMS.”
  • Physical Activity – While this point my seem counterintuitive research has shown that certain activities such as cycling and swimming can ease muscle soreness and stiffness (however, only temporarily). 

Preventing DOMS?

In some cases DOMS will be unavoidable and while you can’t prevent it outright there are a few things you can do to minimise its effects:

  • If you’re new to exercise or using a new exercise routine be sure to build up to it gradually, that way you give your muscles time to adapt. 
  • Ensuring that you are getting the right type of nutrition before and after a workout can help to ease soreness.

Just some food for thought

Jay

How Complicated Does Health & Fitness Need To Be?

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The truth is that health and fitness really isn’t that complicated at all. Don’t get me wrong, just because it isn’t complicated doesn’t mean that changing behaviours and habits that we have built and reinforced over many years will be easy. 

One of the main reasons I believe that people struggle to stick to their fitness and health goals is because they tend to overcomplicate things. So I thought I would set out a few scenarios in which people tend to make things overly complex and what to do instead:

  • Trying to do too much at once. The most common example of this are people who haven’t trained in a while (or at all) who then set as a goal going to the gym 5-6 days a week. Typically they will burn themselves out and find it even harder to motive themselves to get back into the gym. 
    • The solution: remember its a marathon not a spring. Focus instead on making small sustainable changes. Following on from the above example instead of starting out going 5-6 days a week start with 3 and build up from there.
  • Worrying about things that don’t really matter. Way too often I’ve heard clients and friends concern themselves with things such as what the best time to train is or what the best food to lose weight is.
    • The solution: focus instead on what suits you and your lifestyle best. Think about what training time and approach to nutrition will allow you to be consistent in the long-term. Forcing yourself to train at a time that doesn’t suit you or eat foods you don’t enjoy makes you less likely to be consistent and stick to your goals in the long term. 
  • Following an approach to nutrition which is overly restrictive. Following on from the above point people tend not only to eat foods that they dislike but also to eat in a manner which is overly restrictive. The most prominent consequence of this is binge-eating and creating an unhealthy relationship with food. 
    • The solution: choose an approach to nutrition which you enjoy, which suits your lifestyle and most importantly one that you can see yourself sticking to years from now. 
  • Placing too much importance on supplements. There is definitely a time and place for supplements, but for the majority of people they aren’t a necessary component in achieving health and fitness goals.
    • The solution: remember that the main components in achieving your fitness goals (be they fat-loss, building muscle or improving strength) are to ensure that training, nutrition and recovery are on point.
  • Not being patient. Far too often people are too quick to give up on their goals because things aren’t happening at a speed that they would like. They either give up or constantly change between training plans and nutrition styles without really giving any of them time to take effect.
    • The solution: you didn’t get to where you are overnight so you aren’t going to get to where you want to be overnight either. Achieving your goal will take time and it certainly won’t be a linear journey. However, the time will pass either way so you may as well spend it doing something productive. 

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