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

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

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

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 

Making Healthier Choices: Jay’s Top Tips

 

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What constitutes health? What is being healthy? The term health is defined as “the state of being free from illness or injury.” This is quite a broad definition. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely right and wrong when it comes to health and being healthy, but exactly what constitutes being healthy will vary and will depend upon the goals of the individual in question. 

For example, person A being healthy may mean not letting the gym take over their lives and remembering that eating well isn’t about restriction. Whereas for person B being healthy may mean making the effort to exercise more and making better choices when it comes to nutrition. 

I can’t emphasise the above point enough. While the fitness industry is extremely diverse and what constitutes being healthy will differ from person to person, I have a few top tips to help you make healthier choices regardless of what your goals are.

  1. Plan Ahead: Connect with your inner Monica and schedule out your week or your day. This has been one of the most important factors in helping me stick to my routine. I pick out a day where I have enough time to write out what I plan to eat the next week and the days that I’m going to train. That way when I’m busy or stressed out with work I don’t have an additional thing to stress about. 
  1. Address your relationship with food: Addressing what triggers you and leads you to having a toxic relationship with food is crucial. Failing to address these issues will block you from making true progress and instead you’ll fall back into old unhealthy habits. For me there were a few issues which needed to be addressed most notable were the relationship I had with myself, building up my self-confidence and self-esteem and the second was to recognise when I was stressed and to find alternative ways of coping with it. Since addressing these issues I no longer go to food for comfort.
  1. Motivation is overrated: Don’t’ get me wrong, motivation can be an amazing tool to help us do the things we need to do. The issue is that it is dependent on our moods and feelings and so is not always reliable. You are not always going to be motivated to do what it takes to achieve your goals. This is why you should instead focus on creating discipline so that you always do what you need to do to achieve your goals, especially when you don’t want to.
  1. Comparison is the thief of joy: While its great to draw motivation and inspiration from others, I think it’s important to learn to appreciate the accomplishments of others without calling our own into question. More importantly I think its important to learn to inspire yourself. Stop wanting to look like other people. Practice self-love and be kind to yourself.
  1. Consistency is King: The best 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 binging). Take it slow, it’s a marathon not a race.

Hope you guys find these helpful

Jay xx

Let’s Talk About Sweat Baby

 

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I feel that there are two big myths surrounding sweating. The first is that sweat is an indicator of how hard you’ve worked during your training session and the second is that the more you sweat the more calories you burn. It’s one of the many reasons that people tend to believe cardio is more effective for fat-loss compared to strength training. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t do cardio, there are many benefits of including cardio in your training plan (see my blog The Benefits of Cardio for more info). 

So why do we sweat then? When we workout our body’s internal temperature rises so sweat is produced in order to cool it down. 

The Myths Addressed: 

While you do technically lose weight (water weight) from sweating it is only temporary and once you’ve had something to eat or drink the weight returns. In order to achieve permanent weight-loss you should create a caloric deficit through the use of a good nutrition and training program.

Although one of the results of a good training session can be to get a decent sweat on, how much you sweat does not determine how hard you’ve worked. How much you sweat also depends on the individual in questions as different people have different number of sweat glands, meaning that some people naturally just sweat more than others. Your fitness levels may also determine how much you sweat because the more conditioned your body becomes, the more intensity will be required during exercise to raise its core temperate to produce sweat. 

The Key Message: Make sure you don’t get too caught up in the need to sweat during a workout.

Just some food for thought

Jay 

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 

Work Life Balance: How to Fit Fitness & Healthy Habits into a Busy Schedule

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Whether you are in a demanding full-time job or a full time student, the thought of adding exercise to an already daunting to do list can seem overwhelming, especially when you have other responsibilities (i.e. children, social engagements, a job that requires a lot of travel, working late night shifts, a lot of assignments, etc).  So I thought I would share with you guys a few tips that have helped me make healthier choices and keep consistent with training during the moments when life gets a bit hectic:

  1. Schedule: Time and time again I’ve heard people say that they’ll try and find time to get to the gym, but the problem with this is that life gets in the way and 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 must make the time to get to the gym. Just as you would with a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting you should schedule out set times to workout. I always take a day out (typically Sunday or Saturday) 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.
  1. Get the gym out the way first thing: Don’t get me wrong, I think that you should schedule your training at a time that will allow you to be consistent in the long run. However, one of the benefits of getting your training out the way first thing in the morning is that you can just get on with the rest of your day without it playing on the back your mind. I’ve found that when I leave training to later on in the day (especially the end of the day) I procrastinate a lot more and in some cases I just don’t go.
  1. Plan your meals: 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 you track macros or eat intuitively there are loads of benefits to planning your meals in advance. It can help save money and avoid food waste because you head to the shops with a set list of items that you’ll use throughout the week. It means that you don’t have 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. If however, you travel and find yourself eating out quite a bit you can still make healthy choices. Focus on meals with good sources of protein with loads of veggies.
  1. Consistency is Key: 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. For example training 3x a week consistently over time will be better than training 5x one week then only 1x the next week and so on.
  1. Make fitness a part of your life, don’t let it take over: I spent a lot of time believing that I could never have excuses, a belief which was only reaffirmed by the millions of posts 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 food. 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