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

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

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

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

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

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