Workout Your Own Mind

Lifestyle, Mindset

You can drag a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Has anyone ever thought maybe it could be the water?

We are creatures of habit, depending upon what environment we develop either a firm understanding or naïveté, the basis of reinforcing our own truth or becoming lies in what we have been exposed to or protected from.

The same goes for the horse, who drinks from the nearest pool and only knows such as life. What endeavours and aspirations do we suppress in spite of our natural ability or initial interest? Is it doubt or ignorance to our own transcendence that determines the limits that confined those before us to those before them? In doing so, defying our true nature to progress absolutely.

It’s down to a deep-routed fiber, inherent ability and not just a participation of norms which transpire through the purpose of popularly and recognition, but progression which sets out to surpass previous attempts. The same can be said for genetics.

Some people pride themselves on being lazy, they wear their traits like a sash of honour rather than a burden to their own potential and find solace in excusing action rather than taking it.

The same goes for inheriting one good and one bad trait from each of our parents. If one sits at home most of the day and the other trains as a triathlete, does a better lesson come from seeing one achieving and being recognised more than the other or simply acknowledging what NOT to do.

After all we usually have the choice of two means for purpose, based on the traits and habits of our parents and those before, whether they were any good at it or not will often either save you a lot of time or demand it all.

Have you found what you’re good at yet? Are you good at anything? It’s not in the fine details or the skillset, this can be learned later, it’s in the colours that you use, the tones in which you create the mood and the background which gives context to your OWN purpose. If you were to paint numerous canvases using the same colour palate, it’s only going to go so many ways, whether you experiment with different means of expression, lead erratic strokes of frustration into the foreground or ruin them all completely, in this instance they bear the sole purpose of being a draft.

Maybe next time I’ll use different colours, a different brush, maybe you don’t want to use a canvas. We’re not all born to be successful painters, and yet we are promptly expected to master the art of our own fate. How much of our skill set and knowledge has a default setting, one shared with our classmates, similar age and ethnicity. Amidst all the numerical data and graded outcomes of either success or failure it seems only our character remains completely unique to us, leading or distracting. Ability is learned, but without listening to the voice inside your own head, it’s requires ability in itself to make room for both; what you want to know and what you’re told you need.

Workout your own Mind.

I don’t know how much scientific credibility this has on our memory but if our brain deliberately forgets information serving us no purpose beyond remembering, don’t feel so bad for forgetting.

When have you had to use Pythagoras Theorem in your current working role? The same goes for retaining pointless information, somehow, somewhere in our minds we acknowledge that there is still some use out of knowing, seeing, hearing, reading, rather than merely being told to listen.

Only you decide what or why something is useful.

Research your own experience

Absorb what is useful

Reject what is useless

Add what is specifically your own.

These are some of the generic values endorsed by Bruce Lee, but for how simple they appear to be in theory, it’s this inherent attention to judgement and finding independence which is particularly poignant in finding purpose, better yet, success.

Forget anything in your life which seems all too readily prescribed. Reject what you know is useless after proving it to be so. What habits and rituals promote your best headspace and capacity for creativity.  By creativity I’m not referring to that which makes us great painters, writers and such. It’s the ability to regularly workout your own mind and create the best environment for your passions and ideas to thrive. Write the best lines and link the best scenes of your own narrative, edit the things that don’t fit the bill that you envision and filter out the  negative energy which plagues your momentum of growth.

If you’re still working it out, granted your glass is half full or half empty, it’s likely that you have options rather than attempts, skills to perfect and tools to sharpen. A position all to easy to forget to appreciate. Don’t fret over a missing puzzle piece, especially not one that helps complete somebody else’s game before your own.

Follow my journey on Instagram,

Jake 💪

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All (f)or Nothing

Lifestyle, Special

Most of our decisions take shape on the basis of extremes. Yes. No. All. Nothing. Either we want it all, or essentially not at all. Between the two bears the potential for losing out or seeming to acquire ALL for nothing, DEPENDING ON YOUR OUTLOOK. The first demanding little to no effort or sacrifice, meaning that although you failed to gain anything you can safely breakeven. The opposing side of NOTHING, All, conjuring up every ounce of effort DESPITE THE RISK of seeing nothing in return, so was it all for NOTHING? This is enough to discourage most, encourage some and pose to define a small few. The difference between TRYING and not at all is bound ultimately, by a justifying cost with benefit. This isn’t to say merely trying is enough, but it’s definitely an improvement.

TRYING isn’t filling your fridge and cupboards with foods you know you’re going to eat and just delaying time before the inevitable. Or packing your running clothes for work with the INTENTION to run, and inevitably doing more running away from the prospect. We are pretty predictable beings at best, if we see a better option than the one to hand, it won’t take much persuasion to bolt in the other direction. If you’re someone that is predictable, acknowledge the inevitability of your typical route in real time, get ahead of yourself in the queue and make for some better alternatives than those besides bottomless snacking.

Night time hunger following a substantial meal at tea time means you’ve either under-ate at some point or another that day, over-ate sugar or have overly-anticipated the eating ‘freedom’ you didn’t have at work since, no one needs to know what I actually eat. What I mean by this is again, the relationship you have with food. How often do you binge eat? Or go through these periods of starve and gorge? Look back at our eating habits thousands of years ago when we stockpiled and feasted outside of stress, fear, and prospects for Survival. Survival mode isn’t a state of hunger that you want to create when food is in such plentiful supply. Unless you had to chase a wild bore 10 miles through a ravine in order to burn off a box of crunchy nut, stick to a bowl. If serving suggestions appear more comical than informative, weigh it. Kellog’s don’t care how many 30g portions fit your breakfast bowl, they have to state this information regardless. On the flipside, by denying your body of food for a significant time you are starving it of essential nutrients and priming it for things now seen as hard to come by. We can understand how the more you eat something, the more you crave it, so why not make your body actually crave the things it needs?

Depending on your outlook, everything has a benefit. Sugar, caffeine, carbs and other energy sources benefit our system if it means we are operating well, though they often come with a limited time that eventually wears off and then, immediately sought after. Any lesser the immediacy of impending cost or consequence seems to bring only benefits in the forefront, which is why there’ll always be more gastric bands than there are gold medalists and why a lot of people give up once the novelty wears and the compliments stop. We want it all, and the extras. The sides to compliment the burger. Health, but with moderation, acknowledgement for strength and sympathy when we struggle, it sounds just like we want more of EVERYTHING for NOTHING and with no reminded consequence.

Our reluctance to lose or waste time is equally matched by our need to otherwise spend it, better yet when it concerns pleasure of gratification; earning money, spending it. The same goes for reinforcing such a system of something for nothing, there are some things in life you can hustle and acquire by means outside the rulebook, but the same cannot apply to the successful business of our bodies and mindset; Put some good stuff in, get some good stuff out. Invest in things and people that make you feel good, cut your losses with those that don’t. What’s the purpose of your business? To progress? Help others do the same? Ingest ALL of the good stuff and encourage those around you to do the same rather than shove it in their face, if you’re full this way often enough, you leave NOTHING to chance and the inevitability of gorging for the sake of it.

All or Nothing,

An approach that will serve a benefit for some, and setback others, it comes down to specificity. It’s ALL in the VERBS, EATING, WORKING, SLEEPING, DREAMING.

Being in it PROPERLY or NOT AT ALL. So what’s your trigger for such instances?What kind of relationship do you have with life’s pleasures; is it one that puts your state of WANT before the state of NEED, the WANT to feel better or the NEED to feel the BEST you possibly can at the time, aside the weight of consequence  and impending cost? 

Let’s keep this as loosely related to food as possible, despite being the simplest example to use. Picture anything you simply can’t get enough of, either you sought after it or you don’t. Think about the relationship you have with it, does it dictate most of your thoughts in its absence or is it merely a precursor for feeling better and that’s what you crave? 

We know that associations link our thoughts and influence matters from our conscious rationale to our unconscious dreams. If you think about something hard enough, or even better, try thinking about it less, you’ll be inadvertently demanding it from the universe to see more of. It’s the cruel coincidences of reality that truly test your willpower when you need it most. It only takes one time to abstain from temptation to overcome it. Every other instance after breaking a habit becomes the norm. Make your norm pride and fulfilment rather than FULL-FILLING an ever-hungry stomach with guilt.

follow my journey on Instagram

Jake 👊

 

 

Confiding and Venting

Lifestyle, Special

We’ve considered how it is easy to be influenced; for better, or worse. How as polite social beings we acknowledge experience and wisdom in all forms and from different directions, often fail to question the reliability of such and bear witness to the hypocrisy of do as I say not as I do.

It’s world mental health day, and hopefully  I can finish writing this today so that I can make my contribution to a topic that I think is slowly getting the attention it deserves.

As someone that doesn’t suffer with mental health problems, and that’s not to say I haven’t experienced the stresses and anxieties of modern life, this begs the question of can you confide in someone that can’t relate to what you’re going through?

I mentioned in a previous blog how we can often better confide with strangers than those that know us all too well. In this regard then, are we truly confiding our stresses and life questions honestly, or merely venting the top layer to the nearest ear.

In other news,

Anyone that follows me on Instagram will be pleased to know that last nights pizza was everything I anticipated. The reality of it, was the hanging question of whether 6 months of expectation could be fulfilled. I can confirm. It’s rare when expectations are fulfilled. I was expecting to feel guilty and regret my decision though this was nothing of the sort.

You’ll be wondering how this bears any relevance to confiding in people and alternatively requiring the facility to vent: anger, dismay, worry. Well you’d be right in thinking that I have been encouraged on numerous occasions to ‘just enjoy yourself’ to eat and drink like a normal person as though I didn’t have the capacity to. The acknowledgment of choice to refrain from junk food, alcohol and such is my instance of how people seeming to lend an ear, may not have your best interests at heart. I’ve had food forced past my mouth, pints of beer an inch away from my lips and unnecessary temptation in the form of confiding,comforting and reasoning with what may have seemed unreasonable or obsessive, a glimpse of of people that would rather see you fail. What seems like a convenient ear to vent your frustrations may well be a detriment to your wellbeing.

This isn’t everyone. While a lot of people probably want me to say that I’m now going to fall off the wagon and go back to eating pizza everyday, you won’t ever be short of encouragement when people can see your struggle and empathise with how you feel. In the thick of dieting, this was all over my face, it didn’t take someone to do a similar diet to understand. Going from one extreme to the other doesn’t firmly arrange the traits of character I wish to bring to light for the sake of understanding.

If anything, it’s balance which I aim to advertise. Ultimately, I want to inspire and motivate people to ignite the fire of their own transformation; it doesn’t necessarily have to be physical. I can imagine it may be hard for someone on the cusp of contemplation to confide in me, taking the authoritative tone as a coach and making out as though I know something you don’t.  The reality is, whether it’s me, a stranger or someone you know, the sooner the better. it’s easy to ignore advice from friends and family in our stubbornness, harder to swallow your pride and take what you can from every lesson, first hand or otherwise.

Not everyone has someone that they can confide in, or vent their frustrations, and it’s these people that seem to manage life much better than not. Don’t let other people’s laziness or nihilistic outlook on life deter you from your own hopes and dreams. They have just as much the choice to give up and play dead as you have your own insistence for better. If you breathe the same air for long enough, problems and insecurities become shared, unless you can put your own mask on first don’t fret over someone else’s, you might have to help get it over their head, adjust the straps, but only they can decide whether to breathe. Sympathy and empathy can be conflicting notions when we fail to relate and put ourselves in the position of those less fortunate or stable. What you may think is helping someone may be encouraging them to uphold. Negativity is infectious whether it’s acknowledged or ignored. Someone wearing a defeatist outfit has created an identity based on their insecurities rather than their attributes. Complimenting the person you see will not satisfy their own, but don’t hesitate to confide in them honestly, pleasantries don’t cure people’s self-inflicted discontent with themselves, only truth.

follow my journey on Instagram,

JAKEDARCYFITNESS

Jake 👊

Post Comp Blues

Fitness, Special

With any great high comes its latter counterpart; an extravagant meal comes the bill, any great night, a headache and every other lapse of time in between a good time is otherwise then, a bad one.

What do I eat now that I can have anything I want? How do I train consistently without a looming date for which I will be judged? The best thing I can do is just turn the competitive switch off for now; Surely I have earned a rest?

Essentially It’s this crucial point which dictates how long our low points last for, the extent of comfort required to bring things back to normal. What kind of treatments and rituals do we award and console ourselves with in our potentially depleted, tired and vulnerable states. Or boredom, It may not be either one of these, but merely comforting for the sake of comfort, the blanketing of our younger selves, tucking away our stresses and responsibilities, time for bed.

How can we truly embrace the highs when they come around, cautious of their impending price. Accepting this fact. Any experience or pursuit which requires hard work will come with the highs of achievement, recognition or fulfilment. The physical cost of achievement differs from what seems like a mere pat on the back, though not all achievements have to be concrete to be tangible. Conversely, every other tangible contribution toward the debt you run up in order to justify simply great experiences come with a double dose of the blues; the physical cost and the mental weight that bears  once it’s all over. We battle with a ‘what now’ and ‘what next’ paradigm of having nothing to look forward to or work towards, a stalemate in time which only makes us look back rather than moving forward.

I think granting the perspective of whether you live day to day, month to month or years at a time will contribute to this fact. Planning ahead for the future at things to be excited about will serve as some respite on the days that seem to hold nothing but passing time. It is easy to chase days away and fill the gaps with a good time to make it go faster, yet only seem to celebrate empty feats bereft of a purpose besides a worthy toast.

When we eat and overindulge, that impending food coma awaits. When we drink ourselves sober and no longer get the benefit, the denial for perseverance of a better night always seems to outweigh any sense or judgement entirely. I suppose with any high there’s the justification of whether it’s worth it? Sometimes a headache or hangover is not much of a price for a good time, but a precursor to a knowingly successful one.

I’ve mentioned a lot of the justifications and excuses we employ to swerve matters we’d simply rather not do, and rightly so, we’d rather do stuff we enjoy. While it’s easy to have a good time, it’s even easier to have one whilst everything else hangs in the balance, though a consolation doesn’t treat or cure anything, it merely consoles.

So where does this leave me? I’ve tried to remove my personal attachment to this matter thus far in hopes to define the contrasts that run the parallels of our daily lives. It’s difficult to ignore the urge to compete just one more time this year, trickling out those last few drops of motivation at the bottom of a glass soon to be taken away, but it’s essential to know when to call it quits.

You can chase the highs of life but what you can’t do is get time back, you only have to do something truly uncomfortable for the first time to truly bear witness to every second of time. Whether it slips away or you suck it up and make every one count. You can either suffer now and reap the benefits later or always be comfortable and dread anything outside of that blanket you confine yourself to.

Follow my journey on Instagram,

JAKEDARCYFITNESS,

Jake

The Issue with KNOWLEDGE

Fitness, Special

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how our own experiences or lack there of are only as applicable to us as they are general to the next person. Although we advise each other on what we think is best, it may not be, naturally, we feel obligated to assist anyone when it seems like we are able to, but do they need it?

The contrast of fact, to the frivolity of bro science, has come to blur rather than define the commonly practiced knowledge surrounding the likes of physiology and nutrition, to the extent that people have over complicated the simplest of processes to make profitable confusion. Opportunists and the illusive crash course PT’s revere this way of thinking in a bid to over-prescribe what they think is correct, highlighting just how much they know vs what you don’t. More often than not, they don’t know much more either.

Whatever it’s down to reinforcing bad habits or this misinformation you may have accumulated, once it’s been corrected don’t dwell on it, move on and seek a better source of knowledge rather than merely entertaining it out of politeness. It is this politeness that doesn’t get anyone any closer to fact than fiction, the same goes for managers and players, a lot of people can’t take their own advice but somehow know what’s best for you. Listen intently and discard anything lacking true application, you can learn just as much from someone starting out their own journey than someone concluding theirs. Mould what you know now rather than consolidating what you didn’t, you’ll have plenty of time to reconsider your actions when they don’t turn out the way you want, so cross that bridge only when it comes. Your beliefs on a lot of things will change over time for the better and worse and ultimately with the wind.

The issue isn’t with your OWN KNOWLEDGE. Think about just how unique your opinion is to you, how it differs wildly on certain topics yet can be shared broadly on others. There will be a lot of things you may not yet have fully comprehended and would be foolish to commit your senses to in stone. A lot of the knowledge to which we lead our daily decisions by would have once started out as an opinion, proven otherwise, or made the norm. The basis aside from fact beholds an idea belonging to someone, and in turn shared for anyone else’s benefit, but it is ultimately THEIR KNOWLEDGE. Don’t allow other people’s experiences to be the source of your own, ultimately you need to experience it for yourself, you’re not learning from their mistakes, you’re merely acknowledging them.

My point is one that begs the question,

‘Who do you turn to?’

friends

family

mentors

colleagues

strangers?

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we find it easier to confide in strangers who don’t hold any predispositions against us or influence our own, impartiality is comforting when we are often told what to do. It is often that keep too much to ourselves or equally overshare at the expense or personal gain of those around us. With that in mind it would only take something as small as budding aspirations to be shot down or knowledge taken out of context to create discouragement, an idea to be stolen, be diligent and courageous in spite of this, you can’t be anything but.

How hard can it be to lose body fat, or get stronger, mentally more robust? Not as difficult as it’s made out to be, entrusting the correct information. It boils down to confiding in your source of knowledge and not being preyed upon by those that want to tactfully misinform for whatever reasons but their own. It’s like investment, people that can assess and predict the turn of the tide, is it based on previous numbers and patterns or superstition. Are you being entrusted with someone’s lucky numbers rather than a trusted source or system of previous success.

A lot can be said for the range of methods and practice of transformation; mental, physical, spiritual? The latter bearing nothing but questions and cynicism until the turn of the tide, still dwelling on the inadequacies of our pursuits, eventually  asking the successors of our ambitions HOW? When it’s too late.

Finally, it’s great to be well read, book smart and illiterate, especially when your field demands this from you. But don’t keep to one source of knowledge, whether it’s from a book, a friend, YouTube. Broaden your scope of knowledge and even try to connect things initially far between, retaining information will come to be much easier when it is commonly associated and not just memorised monotonously.

Ultimately, don’t be subjected to someone else’s knowledge without proving first that it is useful. In a world full of all the gear no idea, start with attaining some sort of idea first, before investing all your time and money into it. You only have to look around any gym to see nothing but branded water bottles, clothing and such, anyone can simply look the part. Expensive clubs at the driving range and electric trolleys on the course, but still no sign of a decent swing in sight.

Are you sharpening your tools and broadening your horizons, or simply just blagging your way through life?

Invest in what you know as opposed to what you have. Anyone can press 4 digits into card machine and satisfy the safety of everyone’s taste. Rather than buying new clothes for the gym or new clubs, watch tutorials, learn how to swing, read around the subject first.

Knowledge is power.

Follow my journey on Instagram

JAKEDARCYFITNESS

Expectation and Reality

Fitness, Special

Even after regaining back a few extra layers of fat, my perception of food and the reality of taking off the competitive blinkers is proving interesting to say the least. Maintaining a healthier weight in between shows has served to not only keep me warm as we get into October, but kept everything else in the balance also.

I forgot just how tunnel visioned I was becoming, pushing the boundaries of day to day function to chase better condition, to the point where I would be irritated by absolutely nothing at all. While I’m definitely not saying that I’ve cracked the code of contest prep, with anything in life, I’m glad I’ve learnt the HARD way.

My expectation of competing was it would surely be HARD. Easy though it felt, at certain points, I soon mistaken the ease I felt with enjoyment, the reality of the process entitled me with everything and more than I expected. RESULTS. They motivated me so much more than any amount of attention on social media or compliments coming from all directions.

The majority of the time, I yearned for it to be HARDER, questioning that it was almost going too well; I became fitter, lighter, my skin cleared dramatically and my general outlook on life for a good few months was nothing but gratitude and appreciation that I could experience this side of training without the negatives that surround it.

As a beginner, I had and still have NOTHING to lose. As soon as I walk out of that theatre, having enjoyed it and graced with more experience to know what to do better next time, I won’t lose sleep over it for sure.

In this regard, I have no expectations of the show, apart from anything goes and anyone could turn up, though, reality bears these conflicting means of success and failure, winning and losing, happiness or disappointment, necessary components of fulfilment or goals seemingly unfulfilled. For me the goal IS the challenge, not a title, or trophy that I can justify the things that I have missed out on or sacrificed, but a WHY, a reason TO stick to something rather than do what’s easier and put it off for a later date. If you don’t commit to it NOW, you never will, and this goes for any decision you come to wish you had the time for AT THE TIME.

I initially had the idea of calling out people on their unrealistic PORTRAYAL of themselves vs the reality of not being that impressive, but who am I to say? Someone might share this same opinion about me and it’s exactly that, an opinion. Yes it’s frustrating to see people with a bigger following than you when it seems like you work harder or have put more into the means of acquiring what they have but what harm can it do besides motivate you further? If they can do it so can I?

From the first time I added FITNESS to my name on Instagram this is the message I wanted to put out. Knowing it would be both well received and otherwise. Once you commit to the expectation of something like FITNESS you are then defined by what people often see as a hobby, another means of attention, an annoyance to some and merely a current trend thanks to another . While I’d love to admit for your entertainment that I do press-ups as the kettle boils, calf raises in the queue at Asda and hit impromptu poses for old ladies in the street, I can acknowledge how fitness can influence a lot of both your decision making and general conversations.

The reality is, when you are competing everything has to follow a structure, to the point of what seems like obsessive  precision, but life definitely isn’t as clinical. This is the grey area to which I wish to discuss, the line that people try and falsely promote. Including myself.

I tried one cal spray on a crumpet in the first few weeks of dieting and it’s safe to say I’ve not had once since. Here, with every chewy bite, was this said expectation of ‘you can have both’ shattered into a few dry, chewy pieces. No crumpet was ever going to be the same again. Calories are calories, potato po-tato, chocolate increases serotonin therefore, chocolate. In all my previous drunken and otherwise misguided squanders, topics of the sort aren’t hard to come by, here came the birth of actually getting this stuff down on paper to acknowledge just how FITNESS is falsely advertised to the unsuspecting, unscrupulous to the unbecoming and an even greater source of confusion for the many.

So where does this EXPECTATION of FITNESS leave me NOW? The one I will soon give out to people falsely by maintaining a lifestyle that doesn’t match up to photos. Finally I’ve created the hypocrisy of the catfish that doesn’t match their profile in person. Is it worth stressing and fussing to maintain my current condition, more so sustain, and it’s exactly that, unsustainable, like a lot of what you see on Instagram.

If I can be an example or spectacle of the points I’ve been making about the grass not being greener, ignoring the influences around yourself and simply just doing what serves you the best, I’ll be content. No I won’t just be content, I’ll be genuinely happy, knowing that I’ve shed a small light on just how we can overthink ourselves in to a bad situation and out of a good mental place.

The freedom of choice and the expectations of being able to have anything you want at the click of a finger, or a mouse, has withered down our natural sense of reward and achievements down to mere snap decisions that make us feel good only momentarily.

You could say the highs and endorphins of being on stage or performing in front of a crowd are equally as addictive as drugs and alcohol, not to say that I’ll never drink again. What I would say is, are your expectations of yourself confined to a good time? Is the person you want to be or wish to put out matching the one that your friends and family want for themselves for selfish means. Is it selfish of you to deny them the easy-going, joyous person they are used to or is this guise a costume of the person that wants out from celebrating a state of being they are not happy with? What is your true expectation of yourself and does reality match up?

I will always put myself and my morality before other people, if it means staying true to myself. If being off a meal plan and a routine that has kept me in check for over 4 months means that I am not maintaining the image I put out, I am guilty of the aforementioned. ULTIMATELY, I hope to maintain and uphold MY expectation of myself and my own capabilities, over anyone else I can sit and compare myself to. In this regard I urge anyone that wishes to make a change for themselves to stop looking at everything else around them and wondering WHY they haven’t made it yet or receive the attention they THINK they deserve. This only stands as the case for not having done anywhere near enough YET. If you’re struggling for motivation, look inward for what YOU wish to achieve and not what everyone else has already done or currently pursuing. Don’t be a shadow to someone else’s achievements or accolades, you will always be unfulfilled and never bear any purpose but stand second to someone else. Run your own race and don’t stop running until you come first.

Follow my journey on Instagram

JAKEDARCYFITNESS

💪

 

 

 

 

 

The Issue with Influence

Lifestyle, Special

Think for a moment of the analogy that confines a fish to the size of the bowl it resides.  Now imagine the fish were to be a great white. How much more difficult was it to imagine the likelihood of the shark successfully sustaining in the smaller tank without eventually busting over the bowl, compared to a goldfish. Now this isn’t an attempt to define us categorically by pure aggression or passivity, but it’s easy to be confined by your environment when you fail to look beyond it.

I’ve previously mentioned the precarious, vastness of choice, in my last blog The Grass isn’t Greener, though it’s not just our decisions that are influenced by environment, but our thoughts too.  It is often difficult to acknowledge your surroundings and adapt to them whilst staying completely true to yourself. To converge and entertain the opinions of other’s when you don’t know any better. But there comes a point in time where you can either stare back blankly at the pointing finger and swim round in circles or go straight through the glass.

It is easier said than done, to be yourself, if you don’t know who that person is yet, and often people never get the chance to find out. The easiest way that you can distinguish yourself and your beliefs from others is knowing what you’re not. Throughout your social transformation you probably dipped your toe in a lot of different fish bowls, some you merge more of your body into and other’s you pull suddenly from tepid water. It is much harder as you become an adult to simply just drop opportunities and responsibilities simply because you’re not keen on them, but it will serve you a lot more time than just plodding on regardless.

So how does this relate to influence?

Where we put our time and thoughts is crucial. When we don’t influence our own decisions and let other means dictate our path, we are merely existing. Entertained by the passing tides and seeing new buildings which take shape, life seems to be quickly moving on but is it actually changing for the better?

In a world full of influencers, DON’T BE INFLUENCED, not even by ME. Nothing that you can learn overnight will grant you an even greatest capacity over time. Making your own mark and reaping what you sow will serve you better than simply having it handed to you on a plate. If you wish to change your environment for the better, or simply seek to pursue a new one, it is essential that you ascertain the vision of what this new environment should look like.  If you were to ask most people what theirs would be, it would be a warmer climate, beside the sea, with nothing much more to do besides relax. This sounds great, but more like a holiday than a more permanent position. Although the contrast to our daily working lives makes it seem all the more appealing, you’d soon be wishing for more purpose and fulfilment once you’d had enough of simply drinking cocktails and not having a care in the world.

Distinguishing influence,

Good influence

If it didn’t sound so much like the opening chapter of a self-health book, I would have gone for ‘Positive Influence’ though, forever the cynic, I equally account just as much of all this ‘quasi positivity’ amidst all the other sources of influence conflating further confusion.

These are the things that MOTIVATE for no other means beside motivation. Giving people a reason to get off their arse and do something, rather than just acknowledging in awe at what they can never attain. It’s easy to like and share, INSPO, rather than true INSPIRATION, igniting a new belief rather than copying or emulating something that’s already been done, Plato. Rather than categorising this unattainable standard that people are either chasing or defying out of spite, whether we like it or not, standards keep us competitive, and though we may no longer live in caves or mud huts, hotels or mansions, being all too often content makes our imprinted purpose of life merely an unbecoming spectacle to our survival.

Whether the reminder of this fact is a gentle or obvious one, either way we GROW into our ENVIRONMENT. It may not always be easy to change our environment or influence it to the degree that we would like, though it may be worth noting that this may be a stunting condition to the ultimate success or growth of your potential.

Bad influence

Anyone or any thing that makes you feel unworthy or insignificant simply because they have something you don’t. For a lot of people scrolling through Instagram this will be the feeling they endure most of the time. Unless there’s something you desperately want to change or improve about yourself, don’t be quantify what you have on what you haven’t, rather what you are and are not. Things can be improved or replaced, upgraded or downsized, but they surely will not effect the moving parts underneath.

If all of what you see is fitness, travel, food or lifestyle’s of those seemingly better than your own, ask yourself whether it is motivating you to do better or making you feel more disgruntled with your current situation. It’s no one else’s responsibility but your own.

For me I used to have a disposition with social media in that things aren’t always what they seem; falsely advertised sugar coated, but all comes to light in reality anyway. You cannot hide behind a good lense or editing software in real life, so it’s even harder to maintain than simply being yourself. If that is not enough, you either have to just work harder or get much better with a camera.

On that note, my next blog will consider one of my favourite topics,

EXPECTATION AND REALITY.

Follow my journey on jakedarcyfitness

Jake 👊

 

‘The Grass isn’t Greener’

Lifestyle, Special

It only takes observing something which seems better than our current situation to think we’re either missing out or that we’ve got it wrong.

How often in occasions like these do we question our purpose for doing things? As tediousness grows, so does the attraction of not doing it at all, especially as it seems to get more difficult in nature. Imagine it this way, greenest, and the associations we can take from such a green, suspect in colour and bearing an artificial shine. I’m not urging you to pick bruised apples from the shop, to boycott the current aesthetic of apples or defy your natural attraction to things, because that is what should ultimately inspire your decisions.

What I am referring to is distinguishing NEED from GREED, and the haste to whichever decision takes precedence. It would be nice to base ALL of our decisions on the scale of TASTIEST, NICEST, MOST attractive, MOST expensive or BEST. It may seem like the MOST attractive option at the time but that doesn’t mean it is the BEST FOR YOU, NOW.

The grass isn’t greener.

Have you ever sat and watched someone eat when you are already full, no matter what it is, it doesn’t look that appetising. If it were only this simple when having to steer clear of somewhat more appealing options AT THE TIME. Knowing that it’s only temporary, and how the benefit or lacktherof usually outweighs the cost ANYWAY.

On the flipside, the same can be said for being in good shape, having kids, or simply having enough money to sustain all of it. You see plenty of surface snippets of what it would be like, stories of success, but often not behind the scenes. Besides putting in the initial work to obtain anything to which you desire, my advice would be to enjoy the benefits of doing so as much as you can, while you can, along with the process, as you may not always get chance to. We look at the end goal and excite the anticipation of finally finishing something though it is often all the time in between that needs to be savoured.

This would essentially be enjoying your side, making it as green and fruitful as possible, as it may not always be that way. I think we fail to savour some of life’s simplest pleasure’s on the basis of this fact, they are simple. It may be somewhat easier to attain than other feats that come with various stresses and complications along the way, which presents this contradiction of what we strive to achieve the most. Happiness or Content.

Happiness and content, or more so being content, are often transient. We can achieve happiness in many ways, yet feeling content is an emotion harder to describe yet easier to achieve. I believe feeling content more often than happy is healthy. It is easy to be happy if you throw enough money at it or physiologically trick your body into feeling happier for a small amount of time but it only lasts as long as you notice.

If we always think the grass is greener and succumb to every other means of transport than our own two feet, we slowly become passengers to the ominous power of influence. This will come to be my next topic. Though we politely converge and support the successes of other people’s desire’s, in turn we refute our own. Ultimately, there are no bounds to the superlatives that dictate attraction, cost or BETTER means of living in a world that evolves with enticement.

So aside from the obvious contrasts of the grass actually being greener; pizza over porridge, holiday’s over a shift at work and every ‘would rather…’ analogy you could possibly muster up, make your own mind up. You are an adult. You don’t have to eat what everyone else is having, nor do you have to partake in anything you don’t want to.

Remember,

the grass isn’t greener.

Follow my fitness journey on Instagram jakedarcyfitness

Jake 👊

Eating for Convenience or Performance

Lifestyle, Special

If you were planning for a big day ahead; a schedule of important meetings, a hike, or even just a long day of festivities, they all require the energy to do so.

If you went into a meeting without a coffee, a decent breakfast or whatever else your morning ritual consists of, would you find yourself unable to function capably?

If you only packed enough food or water to last you half the journey, would you enjoy it half as much?

And finally, if you didn’t line your stomach with something solid before a heavy drink, could you make it till the evening or barely scrape through the day?

While all these instances vary in their role and function, work, pleasure, limits, none, they all share this contrast of either performing well or not at all. It goes back to what I’ve been saying about this issue with performing the BARE MINIMUM, SOMEthing better than NOthing, but it’s neither any consolation or justification of not feeling or being your best.

Unless I delay my first meal of the day a little bit later, I will always eat breakfast, I used to have a love hate relationship with porridge, in that I loved feeling nicely full, but hated having to wait for it to cook, cool down and eat. This was a whole ten minutes of my day I wouldn’t get back, for the most part I would have took the extra time in bed if it didn’t mean going hungry, to now, being one of the highlights of my day. Of course this comes from being being on prep, appreciating both the food and energy a bowl of oats provides much more than the average person with even less time than I do.

Yes, protein bars, snack bars, ready made drinks and the like are better than completely nothing, but they are GARBAGE compared to real food. Look at the amount of sugar and refined components that contribute to the great long lists of ingredients on the back, your body still has to break down all the things that warrant them being able to sit on the shelf for often prolonged periods, so be mindful of a mere easy protein hit. In addition to this, Focusing solely on the protein content of foods throughout the day and rationalising them OVER carbs and fats is ridiculous, yes you do need protein especially if you are under eating or training often enough, but it shouldn’t be the determiner of all said food choices.

Taking the bare minimum approach aside from food is equally damaging, scraping away at things you’d rather not do, compromising energy away from the things you would. For what it’s worth neither are really getting the most out your potential. It is this lacklustre for anything besides that which we enjoy ultimately down to TIME? the very thing we are all desperate to have more of? If so then, how much more of it would we have if we performed well at EVERYTHING, not just things we enjoy?

It’s easier said than done I know, laughable and shivering with optimism I am at the thought of consummating just as much enthusiasm washing the pots as I do when I exercise, though there would’ve been times where even Matilda would’ve wished she had a dishwasher.

This again comes down to putting the right fuel in, forget food for the moment, simply combust the conviction to rationalises the mundanity of tasks, accepting them, as opposed to questioning why you’re wasting time at all.

Now that that’s out the way,

COOK YOUR OWN FOOD.

Hopefully I’ve not just lost half my readership.

If you’re still here it shows that you’re getting the point. The process before and after cooking is one that’s bittersweet, especially when dieting, the smell making you hungry, having to clean up when you’d rather be resting. Although, there’s definitely worse things you could be doing. It’s a pretty minor undertaking in the vastness of things certainly more difficult and painful, it all comes down to weighing things up solely on cost:benefit, the cost being an hour or your day vs the day being undernourished.

You decide which you’d rather have in the meantime,

Follow my journey on Instagram, jakedarcyfitness

Jake 💪

Should I Compete Again?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

So after a few well deserved days off from plan, I’m ready to do it all over, again. It was really nice to sit down and eat with all my family and friends rather than savouring every mouthful alone and thinking what’s on the menu ten minutes later. I’m saying that as though it bothers me, of course, I’d take a meal out over cold prepped food any day of the week, but the reality is, hunger on prep is something you have to embrace, it epitomises the competitive edge in every sense of the word.

Nothing tastes as good as Sunday felt, not just being on stage and relishing months of hard work but feeling sheer content, even now, a few lbs heavier already. While I massively enjoyed having the freedom to eat whatever I wanted, literally a kid in a sweet shop, I was ready to get back into routine the minute I realised that overindulging was far from conducive even in the short term. Freedom of choice as I’ve previously mentioned is a precarious thing, it can be the difference between bitter and sweet, first and last, winning and losing. This is the best shape I’ve ever been in, would do it all over again in a heartbeat, and we’re not even done yet. I don’t think could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done anything, maybe a slightly less relaxed off season of Dominoes next time round, but it only taught me how you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

I look back at some of the photo’s now from the weekend and laugh at myself just how relaxed I was, how I could’ve been so much better and worked harder on stage, but equally relieved that I could do it all with a smile on my face. I made rookie mistakes, and going into it with no expectations of the whole experience in general, I was humbled to say the least. Some of my stronger shots may look like I had the edge over a few other guys in the lineup, and in my honest opinion I’d probably put myself 4th not 6th, but again, what good is complaining and justifying the fact that MY best on the day wasn’t good enough. If I was to win, knowing that I didn’t bring my BEST, what purpose would that serve me? If I was to leave disgruntled at the outcome, not taking something concrete home to justify all my hard work, this process would’ve taught me nothing but a false sense of entitlement.

I think the take away point from the outcome is being granted with the experience to know exactly what I need to work on and what I would do differently next time. I enjoyed every moment being on stage, knowing that every other guy before me and the next had equally sacrificed by some measure, despite being my competition. It would be nice to turn up, wipe the floor with everyone and get a standing ovation, but weighing up the competition it soon became apparent that the prospects of this were unlikely. It was up until that point that I no longer had anything to lose, and everything to gain. I’ve made it this far without the need for a confidence boost or sung praises, merely customary in consolation, I’d take some empathy over loose compliments any day of the week.

When you have to be adamant to say no to people that try to corrupt and question your decision making to do something that they simply can’t or won’t do, out of choice, it’s often difficult to remember that it is equally their choice too.

And then you’ve got ‘The Neigh-sayers’ Of course I recently watched Pumping Iron.

‘But there’s more to life than starving yourself’

‘One drinks not gonna harm you is it?’

‘That’s not much food’

‘You’ve got to let your hair down, SOMETIMES’

I’ve heard it all, some people surprisingly more persistent to get a reaction than other’s, now I merely find it entertaining at what people come out with.

While we can all judge each other’s eating habits and question what is truly healthier, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks as long as you can justify it to yourself. What if every expense of effort in life could be weighed up instantaneously with the sole benefit that it bears, sooner or later you’d drop everything that didn’t serve you a purpose.

Cardio is the perfect example. Now that it has a place in my routine, and the rewards for my effort can be seen much faster than before, I can no longer justify the extra hour in bed. It would be so much easier to stay in bed and make up for it later on somewhere, but for the sole premise on the benefit and purpose it has, I would be doing myself a disservice if I decided to swerve it. I’ve never been an early bird, If I ever met Mark Wahlberg I’d be the first person to tell him to have a lie in don’t worry. If you could categorise someone that equally resented having to get out of bed, relenting only at the prospect of getting back in, this was me.

Sleep was something I couldn’t live without whilst equally denying myself of it. Rather than getting up and training before work I would finish late and insist on going to the gym regardless of the time. While it almost empowered me knowing that people were settling down for the night and I was training, I justified taking stimulants and pre-workout to rule out any lethargy I’d accrued from a full day of working on someone else’s time. Little did I know how much damage I was doing to myself, sleep deprived and never fully recovered into the next session.

If you want it hard enough, you’ll make it work. I quit my job in retail to become a PT, knowing that it would be hard to sustain through seasonal periods, relying on the wavering whims of willpower that contrast my own. All it takes is a big enough WHY, and there’s your answer every time you’re faced with a question. If you don’t have a justifiable purpose when you it gets hard you’ll clutch at straws and be more likely to crack before you’ve even started. It is by this measure that the purpose of failing or slipping at the first hurdle may save you a lot of time and effort once you’re honest with yourself and just give up. The smaller pursuits may seem tedious and trivial in the vastness of the larger feats, but it’s those bite your tongue and move on moments which satisfy the grandeur of the real journey.

To me, there’s no greater lesson than being humbled, the gift of perspective.

Having a good time is easy, anyone that knows me well knows that I don’t struggle to do so. You’ll never struggle to find an excuse to drink or enjoy a nice meal in company. What you’ll struggle to get back is time, time spent enjoying yourself or time working on what you want most in life. Are you celebrating your life as it is now or do you need to earn it just a bit more to justify the effort you put in?

As for competing for those of you that are interested, my next show is on the 6th October. Thanks for everyone that came to the last one, it made the whole thing worthwhile. As for the next few weeks I’m just going to enjoy the process yet again and see how much further I can push myself before working back up to a more sustainable weight.

Follow the rest of my fitness journey on Instagram @jakedarcyfitness

Jake 💪

 

 

 

 

Self Doubt and Self Belief

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

If you want something bad enough, no matter how long it takes, you’ll eventually get there. While it’s nice to have a goal, If you don’t question yourself regularly enough and allow yourself to be questioned you’ll never really know whether you truly want it or not. This is the dichotomy of self belief and self doubt. You have to have just enough belief in yourself to keep pushing without exceptions, whilst calling yourself out on your own BS even more so.

We hear a lot about mental health and situations which contribute to worsen peoples opinion of themselves or alternatively make them stronger. In life I feel these kinds of situations pose to define us, though as I’ve previously mentioned, I believe it is possible to change the person you may have unwittingly become. It’s safe to say I’ve had it pretty easy thus far, and like a lot of people, from school to college to university I scraped by on the bare minimum, only to look back now in retrospect at time gone by and the potentiality of being better had I applied myself more so.

I think at an earlier, impressionable time it boiled down to never being truly questioned or challenged. Some people pick up certain subjects easier than others, some have to knuckle down and spend more time going over and revising the topic from a textbook. In school especially, if you were scraping by and merely not failing, there was no real later  consequence besides ‘I could have’ or ‘I should have…’ Only to doubt the entirety of your knowledge and further interest should you take yourself off to College and University. Yet again I scraped by and left all my assignments till the last minute, stressing with minutes to go before deadlines usually at midnight. It goes without saying that fear and doubt can be huge motivators should you be struggling to find one. Without some measure of doubt, you’ll fail to enrich the capacity to believe in yourself and overcome the fear of failure. Failure is merely a bi-product of misaligned opportunities that require better timing and better execution. If anything its a trial run for perfecting something that cannot exist unless perfected. How many people try and fail, it’s only a select few that stick it out and are relentless until the job is done.

For a long while as teenagers and young adults, we are socially dependant beings, we yearn for confirmation and pleasantries on our appearance and personality to mould our identity, just as much as we are reassured and fulfilled by them. But what if everyone around didn’t share the same intrigue or the same goals, encouraged us to follow the same path as them and had enough influence on us to disregard our own path altogether. Does this conflict with who you truly are, and who you will become?

We confide in others by sharing the commonalities of our days; weather, food, small talk and mostly polite utterances. We often converge to what the other person is saying in the hopes to find a middle ground that we can both share together, but sometimes you meet people that you just cannot confide nor relate to on any level.

Depending on where you live and who you surround yourself with, this could be a lot of people that you come into contact with on a regular basis, which, slowly over time you’d start to accept and share more commonalities with, should you be forced to be around them, as opposed to disagreeing all the time. What are the chances that you will talk about work with a work colleague, outside of work, it might be the ONLY thing you have in common. It’s these commonalities which make you doubt your own thinking if it doesn’t collate with theirs. You’ll be surprised how short and awkward a conversation will be once you take agreement out of the equation. Ultimately if you please everyone before yourself, you’re putting yourself last.

So what is my point in all this?

Well, let’s say you’re already doubting yourself, it wouldn’t take much for someone to question and put more doubt in there. Alternatively if you have too high a dose of the belief without the critique, you get delusional. Think someone going on the X factor that has never been told that they can’t sing. For me this would have been me if I wouldn’t have consulted a coach or taken advise from anyone other than myself in order to convey my knowledge for the sake of my business, but realistically I’m still learning and growing every single day. I’d take being a beginner any day of the week. There’s only so many time you can get asked about what to eat and how to train and know that it’s falling on deaf ears. While I firmly believe that I can help people change their ways, if they want it for themselves, I am far from a miracle worker, I doubt a lot of the claims I see from other coaches and clients but there are plenty of options available should you be that way inclined. I know MY body, I know training and being creative with it, I couldn’t recite all the bones and muscles of the body on command, nor can I diagnose injuries, but I also know the limit to my capacity as a trainer. If you brought me in a post natal client or someone with injuries beyond my capabilities, I’d pass them on to someone that knows rather than take a stab at how to handle them.

Know and grow your capacity, if you want to learn or commit to something, don’t let anyone talk you out of it, and alternatively if you don’t, it’s your’s and only your responsibly not to succumb to influence. If you are doubtful of your potential and fear failure, it means you care about it enough to get it right.

Follow my journey on Instagram jakedarcyfitness

not quite ready for Youtube yet, but it’s coming…

Jake

Staying relevant or not at all

Fitness

If you ask anyone with a significant following on Instagram what would be the best piece of advice they could give you to grow your social media , it’s always going to be post MORE. I tell myself the exact same thing, and as a PT, social media is essentially the activity of your business nowadays, whereby you can prove that you’re in the gym working with your clients. I’ve not posted a workout video for 2 months and I’ve probably made more progress in that time than I have in months on end swapping and changing exercises . So why is that? Obviously my diet is tighter, I’m doing more cardio, but I have a structure, rather than thinking what’s best to record.

 

When you’re new to this game, you want to put as much content out as possible and market your services in a way that ascertains your target audience, the premise being potential clients. The reality is, most of your clients won’t come from Instagram and will certainly not be the ideal typecast that you can transform in a few weeks as you may be able to yourself. People’s metabolism, attitude, work schedule, eating habits, relationship with food, relationship with themselves and others are way beyond a training and diet plan. My best piece of advice would be to stop focusing on the sheer expanse of what you are newly-able to do and decide what you think is important to post. People are going to have similar body types, you’re going to use a lot of the same exercises, but no one person will ever be the same as another. If anything you’ll learn more from your clients about more creative ways to get them in shape and think differently about food rather than simply telling them what you/to do.

 

Having a solid structure in place is essential if you want to progress, which also means not being deterred by what everyone else is doing, OWN what you do rather than taking snippets from everyone else. There’s only so many times you can watch a video of someone doing a lat pulldown or a bicep curl before it just gets tedious, the same goes for diet, content is content, people will post be something new every day anyway. The same goes for your food, the grass will always seem greener when you’re eating the same foods week to week, what everyone else is eating may look more appealing, but yours should stay the same most of the time if you’re looking to make changes nonetheless. So what has structure got to do with staying relevant? Well for me, I’ve realised that I simply work better not trying to juggle both.

 

Ultimately, I post what I DO, not what I think people will like or find easier to relate to, the reality of it is, it’s not anything new. If someone asks me how I train my back, it’s a simple answer, while I get the impression of doubt like I’m holding onto a secret that doesn’t exist. Surely it can’t be that simple or there must be a certain rep-range that offers the most results. The answer is quality over quantity, forget the time frame if this is something that will put more pressure on your progress, it’s only once you determine the best method can you then actually try it. If the method constantly changes it just creates more confusion and makes you more susceptible to stumble across a ‘better’ or more responsive exercise or program.

 

Staying relevant is essential. If you want to grow your following, people basically want to know what you’re doing, where you’re going and where you’ve been. This might be nothing, everywhere and quite frankly nowhere, but this does not hold any restraint on your knowledge until proven otherwise. Unless you’re in unquestionable shape, people want to test your knowledge in the flesh, and quite rightly so, if they haven’t worked long enough to see results yet, the only means of valuing their investment is seeing what you know. As a paying customer this is their right, but this does not mean wavering between the means of your plan and what they’d rather do, because most of the time, it’s less.

 

We’re equally poised as we are garish beings, we pin every destination anticipate each milestone which sets us to the next, capturing the moments and excitements that never seem to last as long as every other normal time we endure, mundane. People don’t want to do the same exercises week in week out, they want the fun, different ones which they don’t find mundane. Ascertain the balance and value of excitement aside from the mundane, the benefits of simplicity as opposed to over-complicating an already over-complicated process, the basics are key, but they have to be progressed sooner or later.

 

So what if you do the same things every day? Does anyone else need to see that? Stay relevant or not at all. Prepping for this competition has made me realise just how much faster time flies when you have a set routine. I’m thinking this time last week I had this meal, I did this many reps and the next thing I know, another week rolls into one. Not having a routine is like constantly moving the goal posts, trying to do the same amount of work or even better with more food so you’d think more energy, but each means for one thing has a place for another. Don’t just follow the eating habits of everyone else with a bit of muscle to them or a significant following, what works for them may not work the same for you.

 

On that note, I’m about to dust the cobwebs off my camera and see whether it still works.

 

Thanks for all your support in the run up to this prep,

 

Jake

Dedication and Moderation

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

Things that are difficult usually require some level of dedication. For those of you that have a life plan, aspirations for the future or simply own a list of things you’re in the process of ticking off, the first few goals you make are usually the easiest. Going back to getting comfortable being uncomfortable, your goals should be just the same, don’t stick to the easy stuff because it makes you feel good, spend time doing the things you know you need to work on or you probably never will. While daily feats are important for improving your confidence and providing you with enough momentum to make them habitual, satisfying the higher demand rather than the fine print will pose to surpass the sticking points or plateaus.

We know that body image standards have considerably increased and people are now looking at themselves in the mirror with more insecurities and less confidence with their bodies, it seems to be that inadequacy fuels more workouts than dedication ever will. The guilt tripping to get you there, phantom injuries to talk you out of it and justifiers rather than the means to stick to anything at all. Whether it’s an individual part to play or the current meet yourself half way outlook on all things body positivity, it is this over acceptance of bad habits which has made for moderation being yet another excuse to add to the list.

We observe influencers and the like set the standard for optimal living; look good, lead a ‘balanced’ lifestyle and let your hair down once in a while. This is great FOR THEM, and the premise is usually as resonant as it is applicable to the masses, but there lies the problem, satisfying an impressionable norm with relatable words and not the actions required. How many fitness personalities do you think break their diets, front their impeccable dedication and make you feel bad about yours? In the same regard how many portray an image which satisfies the norm of their followers before their own health and pressures to maintain an image for the sake of getting paid, in compliments or otherwise.

Expectation and reality,

I personally adopted the ‘flexible lifestyle’ for a long time. I advertised that this was my reality, proudly, so that I could encourage others to do the same. Calories in, calories out, work hard play hard. Always letting myself and others justify that I can always make up for it tomorrow, one drink, one bad meal CANT be THAT bad for you. I enjoyed having balance; hard work during the week, not necessarily a blowout when things came around but certainly not things conducive to my dedication in the gym. I wanted everyone else to feel how I felt, content, that I could do both, but in my head ultimately I was neither out of shape nor in, to others maybe but not what I wanted for myself. It was only until years down the line I thought ‘hang on, for someone that trains as much as I do, I don’t look much different’ I frequently received compliments for being in shape although this didn’t do me any favours, confirming that what I was doing was working but not to the rate which I anticipated years before. I was probably known for being ‘that guy’ in college, like many others that was always eating chicken, drinking protein shakes and lifting weights any chance I could. I didn’t do it for any other reason besides betterment of myself and the fact that I enjoyed the feeling of improving my body with hard work.

While I wanted other people to share the same outlook, get results and be more confident with themselves, genetically it was probably easier for ME to stay relatively lean most of the time, than it was for others around me. To which nothing less than preaching what I thought would be useful knowledge to everyone else wanting to look like me in the same time would come to fall on deaf ears. While I protested that the right amount of commitment would bring results, I observed the void that I had created by spending much more time on my body than most people were prepared to do. I’d much rather be straight up with people, rather than try and convince people that they could look like me if they simply followed my program, like many other’s do.

The reality is, it takes determination to pursue the difficult, no measure of moderation or guilt free cheat meals, low calorie ice cream or quick fix methods will get you there any easier, which is a tough pill that most people cannot swallow.

Looking at the time frame, I wonder what I would look like if I was completely dedicated to what I was doing THEN rather than picking and choosing when to be, now that I cannot hide away from the impending scrutiny and judgement to which I put myself under. Now that there is no room for moderation, I fully understand how much easier it is to be dedicated, with nothing influencing or tempting me in the slightest. I may often joke about the kind of foods that I will eventually break my diet with but its simply decided by yes or no, rather than maybe a little bit. This all or nothing approach is what a lot of people would benefit from and NEED in order to see just how good or conversely otherwise their willpower truly is.

Expectations are broken when you post a good physique update and get ‘caught’ in the queue at five guys. Cheat meal or not, the illusive veil of expectation and hypocrisy will be lifted eventually, usually for the sake of self indulgence. There comes a point in time to which you have to decide whether you’re in or you’re out, committed or not, as your body and your attitude will reflect this in the long run. This is what moderation does, gives you a false sense of security, the best of both worlds, great at the time but not when it is at the expense of your effort. Why is it that generally most of us can only relate to those that preach BALANCE and not so much those that seem so far beyond our capabilities that we just sit back and observe in awe. Even someone with an infallible image has to have a break sometimes  If you are overweight, exercise more, if you want to put on weight, eat more. Don’t be fooled by someone that merely looks better for advise, they can help themselves but may not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Pipe dreams and more appealing offers which make for less work in less time, maybe they can do it, but to you it merely justifies doing less rather than more.

Dedication is something you can’t turn off and on. We all need justification or at least some bearing on the decisions we make and the people we make them with, but what if balance was the very thing that jeopardises your dedication further? Everything in moderation is great for the average person, while too much of one thing isn’t always ideal. How average is tolerable to you? If someone referred to you as average would you be happy about it or have something to say? In that same regard much moderation or AVERAGE EFFORT is ok as opposed to how dedicated you have to be to actually see things through? There’s no optimal figure or sweet spot which determines whether you’re goals are dedicated or flexible, training 7 days a week isn’t necessarily better than 5. Only you can truly know how much is best for you and whether you’re consistently missing the mark without acknowledgement.

For those of you that aren’t aware, the date for my competition has been moved forward a week, which means I have 6 weeks to go until I get on stage for the first time as a Novice. This isn’t ideal news considering I still have at lot of work to do, though there’s a silver lining to everything life throws at you, you cannot control many things in life, only your temperament under pressure and the way you carry yourself on through. Ultimately my goal is to get in the best shape I have ever been in, get on stage and do it all with a smile on my face. No one does this shit if they don’t enjoy it, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of my journey on Instagram.

Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

What is Your Downfall?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

So overthinking is possibly my downfall, in that most things tend to be black and white and not a trick question or conspiracy awaiting to surface. It’s great to question things, and so you should, but when previous intrigue is to be followed by doubt or cynicism, it can be tricky.

So what is your downfall?

Does merely acknowledging your bad traits overcome them? When we act irrationally or say things we do not mean can we use anger to justify what we say or is the anger merely a bi-product of the truth? Not thinking versus thinking of every little thing we are not supposed to after a day of preoccupied avoidance? Is the physical act of tossing and turning a conflict of these ideals, whereby sleep is only a temporary resolution, what you wish to say or do, and what you will?

procrastination? irritability? stress?

I wouldn’t consider myself a major procrastinator, though I do often find better things to do, simply, if I would absolutely rather not do the task at hand, it’s all about choice. For me this was once cardio, in that I’d always rather choose weight training over cardio, only to find that they now have equal bearing on the bigger picture of my goal. How did this switch take place? For me if you equally dread something and love the other, there’s always something you’d rather be doing than the things you NEED to do. The grass is definitely not greener, everything has a place and function.

As someone and like many others that study subjects which require 100% attention and more importantly retention of the information to which they ingest, I would say an easy test for this would be see how long you can read a book for which you don’t find interesting in the slightest. This does not mean you should always persevere through a boring read, but rather ascertain what you are wishing to find or learn. Are we inclined to watch comedy when we are sad, or heartbreak when we are in love, entertainment is equally as cathartic as it is merely that, entertaining time. How many books have you ever picked up and not finished, or depend on other people’s motivations to get to the last line rather than mustering your own. Are we so idle in the familiarity and convenience of blurbs, reviews, and recommendations that we are divulging our tastes and merely eating the ingredients from a recipe rather than cooking up a meal.

Procrastinating, every other thought or idea than the one you need, the only one you know to be true. A hundred IF’s and a thousand NO’s. Back to the drawing board or somewhere familiar. Familiarity and the known as opposed to unknown are that of which I mentioned in Comfort and Discomfort, a beseeching reassurance of the familiar that licks our wounds and steers us away from failing again.

Alike my previous posts these themes are centred around basic human traits and not personal attributes that confine us to them. We are products of our environment, by with every means to progress, regress, follow, unfollow, love, hate, do we steer in the direction of other peoples decisions and judgements. Our cup, half full with our own problems, clinks the glasses either side, one of hope, another sorrow, spilling over the sides and diluting the other. If you need less stress and irritability in your life, don’t clink the glasses of those stressed and irritable, and if you do, at least seek to empty your own cup before pouring in everyone else’s.

Our downfalls and malapropos are so deeply weaved into our habits of life that it is difficult to see them for what they are, things to be acted upon or not, a leap of faith or static solitude. The influences and failure’s of many great life successors will all be different, but all will share that fact, that they have been influenced and equally failed at some point or another. Are you to be someone that influences other people by succeeding or learning from your failures? The latter being the point to which failing is only the beginning of influence. If we were to succeed in everything that we set out to achieve, our confidence would only be around for as long as the winning streak.

Finally, I’ve often been asking myself what is MOTIVATION? How do I motivate people to exercise, to do things because they are hard, to end what would seem like a losing streak? the answer is nothing. I can do nothing but observe the reasons for why things things can be difficult, are difficult or made more so, successfully or otherwise. As personal trainers, friends, colleagues and family, we observe, collect and give our best advice to those that may or may not need it, but if there’s always something better to do or worse to think about the grass will always be greener, or ironically, not.

 

Do I Need to Diet?

Fitness, Lifestyle

 

KEYWORD ‘NEED’ mere desire or requirement? All too often do I observe people’s rationale for last minute dieting, cleansing, juicing and seemingly tactial starvation. 

Holidays and works parties aren’t logical justifications of the above. If you really cared about your body or general appearance enough to do something about it, you wouldn’t be far off in the run up to such a time months before. It’s only the beckoning realisation of the things you cannot have alongside a good body that breaks the EMERGENCY F’ IT GLASS to which the contents inside are fat burners and quick fixes.

Fast dieting so late in the game is a nightmare for hardgainers and those with a fast metabolism, considering how hard it is to preserve any progress on even less food and a much higher output. In addition, quick fixes and the like only have bearing on satisfying the short term, they might reduce bloating and water weight, improving body composition somewhat, but they are still compromising ideals which require consistent factors purely to maintain. A 4 plate squat fuelled by 4000+ calories does not equate to 5 plates when eating a 1000 more, nor does acquiring a leaner state warrant overindulgence just because you’re further ahead than before. Do you need to diet? Or stick to that which brought you results previously. For weight loss and body composition, said approaches may bear a different response each time; stress factors, TDEE and lifestyle changes, time being on your feet throughout the day. It’s not necessarily how long you spend in the gym, how many hours of cardio you do a week or how many days you can tick some form of exercise tick off, it’s the rest of the time in-between. I bang on about recovery but just because you’re not working does not mean you’re resting. Drinking on a night out, EVEN IF it’s not a late one, might put you to sleep faster, but you are not really sleeping, you’re merely sedated. The same thing goes for justifying smoking a joint before you go to bed, if you cannot sleep without it, is it serving you a purpose anymore or are you dependant on being sedated to function.

If you don’t need to diet, and you firmly grasp your list of do’s and don’ts well enough not to guilt fast and guilt sweat, it’s easy. It’s failing to acknowledge your downfall and making use of this realisation which is hard.

ALCOHOL>

DRUGS>

STRESS>

PEER PRESSURE>

BOREDOM>

WHEN IN ROME>

How do we act upon these states of influence when it means justifying a guilty pleasure or something entirely regretful afterwards. Is it lack of will power or do we merely fail to acknowledge the above in their forthright bearing over our decisions, as we cannot decide for ourselves half the time.

Mere desire or requirement? No justification needed for a drink after a stressful week, so what if every week was stressful. We are still peer pressured into that which we may not want to partake, is it merely influence or control, do you need someone else to dictate what to eat, where to go, what to wear, what if they told you to diet? Then it would be an insult. It seems we only care when it means harming our image, but the very thing holding our image together is self control, conviction and security in ourselves, Do you need to diet? No, but are all your friends ‘skinnier’, maybe I should diet? ‘fitter’, maybe I should run? ‘funnier’, Maybe I should laugh more? ‘smarter’ Maybe I should read more? Are these justifiers or motives? Does your motivation come from other people or from means so unwaveringly deep rooted that no lapse of competition or stance of trend beside yourself will contest to it.

DIET, EAT LESS? WHY? WHEN? WHAT?

A diet doesn’t just mean eating less, or more restricted, it merely outlines a list of things which are conducive to a said goal or approach, MORE calories being the premise of a predominantly STRENGTH orientated diet. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is a green light on junk food and multiple Dominoes visits, though this may help appreciating your discretion. While strength and weight may be a useful gauge of progress, it should not be a fixed determiner for irrational eating. If strength may be down during a prolonged cut, consider what your end goal will depend more on, strength or body fat %. In an ideal world we would all like to be as strong, as lean and as fit as possible, but these are often three different rings on a venn diagram which are interlinked by exercises that still need independant bearing.

Somehow it’s almost for the sake of making a point of how hardcore people are for their justification of doing so, but realistically, a few weeks of hard dieting won’t do much in the grand scheme of things. Here the WHY has not really been a strong enough WHY, but more of a HOW long it will be until the next bigger WHY comes.

A HOLIDAY? IT GOT CANCELLED

DIET STARTS MONDAY? SEE YOU A WEEK NEXT MONDAY

LOW CARB HIGH PROTEIN? YES BUT WHY?

INTERMITTENT FASTING? WHY?

Be your own devils advocate and question the reasons for going on a diet or changing your eating habits before you have the option to be corrupted by everyone else’s rationale. It might even be worth working out what your DOWNFALL is before you even consider to diet, if it is even necessary, the premise to which the thing/things holding you back may prevent any resolve with eating habits, found above “>…”

So how do I know what my downfall is and how do I fix it? If only it were that simple.

My next blog will discuss what my biggest downfalls have been and how I resolved them.

Jake

 

Comfort in Discomfort

Special

‘Do people who run marathons know they don’t have to?’ This was the first thing I seen today on Facebook. I’m no marathon runner, nor do I have any incline to do so, so what are people’s drives to that which brings great discomfort?

I watched ‘Free Solo’ and ‘The Dawn Wall’ recently, a feat of which seems to bear an even larger question than the scale of the mountain, WHY? The two climbers shared a similar mindset which spanned over a decade of climbing the same wall (El Capitan, Yosemite) the premise being mastering every small detail of the climb, or DIE. How close do we need to be to death or at least the thought of it, to propel us further away from it? Do we tightly embrace the heat and warmth of security knowing that each day could be our last or a revelling assurance at what we have that others do not. How relentless do we have to be to secure that which we deem most dear? Feats and fortune, family and friends, a conflict of the comforts of consolation when we fail aside the discomfort of failure itself. Is it merely a  hunger of endorphins that add motives to pursuits far removed from the frivolity of life, or is adrenaline a drug just packaged differently, without any stigma or judgement attached. In this extreme, failure equals death, but in every other sense, the premise of failure should be acknowledged by a single stop as opposed to a destination.

We no longer live in Medieval times where building a moat around your estate sufficed against the covetous eyes of jealousy, though the security of our digital fortunes may dictate our fate. Now, in a digital age, one bad review or comment from the competition of opportunists can dictate our success or failure, making every decision one which has some level of fear attached to it, adrenaline. So am I saying that we get secretly get a kick out of being judged? Think a reserved shyness awaiting acknowledgement to the boisterous arrogance of acceptance, who benefits more from this inception of social identity?

But this is the risk that distinguishes those that laugh in the face of adversity and judgement, whether it defies your moral code or not, having your insecurities put under the microscope for all to see is not something we are prepared for. While I get that such a saturated market of girls, and guys, flexing their way to the ever fluctuating trends of the fitness industry will bring plenty of ‘fake it till you make it’s’ I massively respect anyone that puts themselves and their bodies on the line for people to judge, ‘this is me, take it or leave it’ flirting with the thought of falling to their death at one mis-step. All too often do we see the fact that people can dress themselves up with all the ingredients to fast-track their identity to acceptance, but if your dish has all the same ingredients as someone else’s, is it really your recipe?

So what can we learn from thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies that flirt with death as we spectate and wonder HOW? As Ant Middleton says, “fear is just excitement” Where does this leave everything else which is uncomfortable, who and what is to greeted as a friend, or a comforting foe that secretly enjoys your discomfort? Get comfortable being uncomfortable, acknowledge the position that you find yourself in regardless of being at the top or the bottom. Don’t go on the defensive and wait for the cunning of hungrier bellies to steal from your plate, finish everything you start and leave no scraps to feed other people’s ego’s. Embrace the thrill of the unknown rather than knowing exactly what you’re getting and no further. Being the smartest, strongest or most wealthy person in the room isn’t always a good thing. Don’t be weak, but don’t hesitate to be the weakest in a room full of stronger characters, a student, an apprentice, on areas to which are uncomfortable rather than just fashioning knowledge without conviction.

Make the steps firstly with your hands and feet, knowing that they are connected and not just autonomously leading you to your death. Think your way out of problems that arise with your physical body rather than going in ‘head first’ and overthinking every single potential outcome that CAN or COULD. No one got anywhere by having a million and one ideas in their head and no clear direction of what actually bears a solid purpose. That’s why procrastination is equally as useful in the creative process as the end goal, seeing and acknowledging the useful from the useless. Upon facing a deadline or solution to a problem we see every other alternative, not because we don’t know the right thing to do, but we undoubtedly know the worst thing to do, nothing. I COULD work but i’d rather not, we see the possibilities rather than the simplicity of the answer as if it were too clear cut to be true, ‘The Elixir of Life’ Is it A. Exercise everyday B. Smoke everyday C. Take Regular holidays D. Have a perfect diet. Well it can’t be D because there’s no such thing, i’ll take whichever pick out of A,B, or C that suits me. We talk ourselves out of discomfort and into comfort at every opportunity, how would our decisions fare without this lackadaisical charge which only confines us to our previous choices.

Jake.

Mental Health and Mental Wealth

Lifestyle

Aside from reeling off the current stats which have already started to dictate our swaying beliefs about Mental Health, I want to consider the partition of both our external, physical (NHS) and that to which we often silence, our internal, mental health system.

Nowadays we fret the thought of having to stand in a queue; on the phone; at the till; on the waiting list, but when it concerns our own health, we are unequivocally anxious as we are (a) patient. That’s if we even get to A&E or our respected medical professional of choice, Google? The symptoms of a ‘headache’ seem to have much more to bear than mere dehydration or lack of sleep. We can now have our niggles and ailments instantaneously diagnosed without a scan, along with assumed expertise of Medical Practice, or is that when you just finish your PT course? It seems that browsing for ‘Chest Pain’ will provide you the same results in kind, whereas simply being anxious and stressed is exactly what makes us human. These are merely our internal defences, and while truth is useful weapon for deceit, wearing it as a label only presents our greatest fears and vulnerabilities as a weakness to be feasted upon, an injured game to a wake of hungry vultures. 

It took a few famous figures to meet their early demise for everyone to start caring about about Mental Health, but while we can like and share posts from our devices that ‘raise awareness’ and show just how caring we are to our Facebook friends, we massively lack the sensitivity to deal with the difficult and frankly morose conversations which we often avoid. While there are people going through an array of different issues, diagnosed or otherwise, we are all too hasty to let the label discern the outcome of social interactions with that person as though they are damaged goods, choose to deny it or not. Ultimately those that need someone to listen should have the facility, and those who are merely looking for unnecessary sympathy should be met with none, everyone else in between is stressed, or anxious, like most of us, stop claiming that you’re ill and start with helping those that are.

If Mental ‘Health’ is the Goggings-esque’ reinforcement of pain and suffering, what can be said for someone that endures none of the sort?  A subversion of someone privileged with hardship, as opposed to an inherited content, to which their highest successes are fuelled by their lowest times. When considering the quantifiable currency of Mental Wealth, one only has to look at the limits of their threshold, where it has been tested before and how fast it is until you say ’NO MORE’ in the pit of desperation.

Notwithstanding the very system in which we entrust with our broken parts, a time to which we approach with a foreboding reluctance, while we look cautiously through the viewing window as though still in control of our best interests and an honest price. Particularly one which treats us as consumers of alleviators rather than patients of cures, sealing up a puncture rather than changing a tyre. No amount of paracetamol can mask an injury, nor can painkillers, a killer of only the sensation of pain and not the root cause. Everything has an application under instances to which cannot be dispelled otherwise, but the fastest solution can be equally short-lived.

I don’t eat Raw, peel the skin off my grapes or sleep in a hyperbaric chamber but do seek to endure physical stress everyday which allows my body to manage external disruption more tenably. I rarely get colds, and when I do it usually only down to the fact of breaking my usual routine which my body requires to operate, not the germ lottery concerning working with the general public.

So what’s wrong with the whole ‘Millenial’, ‘Snowflake’ and the freedom of choice generation? The option to say ‘NO’ No to decisions that will be out of their control, will not make them happy, and will be uncomfortable, WHY would they say YES? Ascertain the kind of person you’d want to give responsibility and high-pressure to, could they handle the stress without any prior experience of something stressful or mildly difficult. Let’s stop creating a generation of ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ and more of will and would. 

Strength & Hypertrophy

Fitness

When it comes to the intention of progressive overload, training for Strength and for Hypertrophy are two different avenues which can lend into one another:

Hypertrophy

Training to target and overload specific areas and muscle groups.

Strength

Lifting an object from point A to point B and building this up to the heaviest weight possible

Now let’s consider the two schools of thought surrounding each of these approaches, whilst acknowledging both of their END GOALS.

Hypertrophy is predominantly used for Bodybuilding, in that people aiming to get as lean as possible will also be required to hold onto as much muscle as they can in order to achieve a certain LOOK. Although strength would have had to be once a key staple of their progression to a heavier weight –alluding to more muscle and fat retention from a higher calorie output– it will ultimately become spent to satisfy a much leaner goal which requires much less food and even less energy to operate. When strength may be in scarcity, it is here where hypertrophy would be a key component of muscle maintenance, given an equal stimulation to imitate the heavier weight bearing. A set of 80kg on Bench Press is not the same as one of 110kg, but there are plenty of ways in which you can trick your body into making it feel the same way and thus not losing too much muscle at a lighter weight. Clearly this is not the approach to take across prolonged periods of what would be a culmination of both Strength and Hypertrophy, as it is much easier to adapt to the lower volume of 80 than it is 110, but merely lifting heavier won’t necessarily bear the kind of LOOK a matched lighter volume may.

On the flipside, Powerlifters operating purely for strength rely on keeping their rep ranges LOW and their weight HIGH, in order to surpass previous totals in VOLUME, NOT Reps. Even simply comparing the energy and muscle recruitment required going up to 110 from 80, and 140 from 110 is something that relies heavily on calorie influx and energy replacement throughout strength overloading. In Bodybuilding, specific muscle volume and hypertrophy purely for size is achieved at a much higher rep range whereby the muscle is pushed to complete failure and adapts accordingly over time.

Both these styles of training can be incorporated alongside the other, though there will be a conflicting point to which the potentiality of further strength may be hindered by adopting rep ranges suited better to endurance rather than power. The same goes for lifting beyond your means and sacrificing the proper muscular contraction in the correct areas as opposed to the assisting, peripheral muscles; shoulders, arms.

Ultimately, place your approach on a scale of one to the other –STRENGTH, HYPERTROPHY– and define where you would place both your rep ranges and resistance % of 1RM in relation to how it reflects on your body. Account days for strength and others for accessory and isolation movements which provide more of a failure from the pain/burn as opposed to simply failing to complete the set amount of reps as it is too heavy.

I will be taking on more clients this year for Online Coaching, which will include regular weight and macro goals in conjunction with a custom training regime. If this is something that you are looking to get put in place for 2019 please complete my survey on my website jakedarcyfitness.com under ‘Online Coaching’

Cheers

Jake

New You or Just New Year?

Fitness, Lifestyle

Picture this, less than a few weeks from now, it’s January 2019, Christmas will be a distant memory and all the guilt-free-ness of the last month? months? year? May now seem like a real mountain of a task. The thing is, whatever plan of action you are willing to take now, realistically, ask yourself these two questions,

Are you going to be able to STICK to it?

Are you going to be able to ENJOY it? 

If the answer to both is realistically NO

Have a look at the things you CAN and WILL stick to FIRST, do it WITHOUT FAIL , and see how you that makes you feel. Here are some simple habits that you can implement to the New Year. I’m going to make the point of  (AT LEAST )

 Walk somewhere you usually would have drove to (once a week)

Try an exercise that you haven’t done before (once a week)

Choose just ONE DAY to cut out the things you know may be hindering your progress 

Choose just ONE DAY to cook your own food or only eat things that are prepared by YOU.

Leave your phone on charge in another room in order to sleep. 

Do something that you know is HARD, A RUN, A WORKOUT, A CLASS, NO BS.

Things for each day

EAT BREAKFAST (UNLESS FASTING or there’s a good reason for it)

Plan ahead what you are going to eat BESIDES the most convenient option

Something green on your plate 

Be full from whole foods and not from snacking, if there’s room for chocolate there’s room for anything. 

Track your BEST and WORST day of calories in Myfitnesspal

One extra glass of water 

I wouldn’t say there’s anything particularly difficult about any of the above, nor do I think it will be hard to stick to, which may pose as a good test for anyone that needs some structure day to day. Getting put on a diet plan or training regime that’s going to require energy and a lot of willpower isn’t always the best option if it’s coming from a place of doing very little. Start by granting yourself any of the above, whether it’s daily or just one day of the week to test how corrupting your mind is when it comes to food and the like. If it is easily persuaded, a more rigorous approach will be necessary as opposed to structure on the odd day, as you may only be motivated by seeing the immediate reward of your effort.

Ultimately it’s all well and good me telling you what you COULD do besides what you ARE ACTUALLY going to do for yourself, is it going to take another year going backwards or can you put a fresh start to the OLD YOU that says YES to everything knowing that it isn’t always the best for you. 

My best advice for 2019 is start small and build on it, don’t push beyond your current capabilities in order to see quick results, they only last as long as you can keep at it. If you’ve been out of the game for a while don’t try and do what you used to, nor should you expect those same things to bring you the same results. 

I will be taking on more clients for Personal Training and running a beginner class in the New Year for anyone that is new to training or just wants to expand on their knowledge with fitness, so get in touch if either of these options are for you. 

ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF PURE GYM IN JANUARY:
ARE YOU A 365’ER OR 30 DAY TRIAL’ER?

Jake 

Should I Compete?

Fitness

From one of my very first blog posts ‘Short Term Satisfaction, Long Term Misery’ it is now clear in retrospect that in order to truly commit to the potentiality of competing, I can no longer rely on merely training hard alone. When I ask what people’s motivations are, I visualise the extent of what it is they seek to achieve, how much effort is required and how long it will be until they question whether it is worth their while. This is the point to which all the comforting outlets of life are weighed against a feather, the heaviest to which, drags them back to square one.

Everyone has their own gauge of happiness, whether this is from eating a strict diet and being in the best shape possible, to having the freedom to eat foods which are generally enjoyed. In the same instance of questioning effort:reward, this separates each standard synonymous to our working life work:pay. Working a full week and not getting payed, you’d probably question WHY? it therefore comes down to what kind of reward it is that you seek. If work is exercise and reward, food, there’s only so much potential for tangible rewards, results, and so long before you ascertain your potential input of EFFORT, think about what reward you require to justify it.

For myself, being on stage in my best possible condition is a reward in itself win or lose, standing amongst people that share your commitment, appreciating the common interest of simply wanting to be better, to the extreme.

A lot of people put the work in and don’t reap the right kind of reward, better is better than nothing but better isn’t best, so preparing for less is expecting nothing. how far off are you from being simply better and your BEST? I’m a year from being 25 but if i thought this was the best I was ever going to look at 15 I would have stopped a long time ago. Visualise your best and don’t stop until it is firmly in your grasp. Is this the best it will ever get for YOU? Your work, relationship, health, do you put in the work for confirmation or will it always be a part of a conscious strive for better.

Exercising purely for aesthetic, to impress people, or to be acknowledged shouldn’t be the way to go, but for a lot of people, compliments can be even more motivating than results.  The reality is, compliments can be equally as damaging as they are constructive, and this will come to either serve or ruin me when weighing up each potentially hindering comfort closer to the date.

I acknowledge that competing in a Bodybuilding show would be considered ‘extreme’ to a lot of people, though I respect the difference in opinion just as much as everyone has their own interpretation of happiness. Food for example, brings happiness to a lot of people, but even too much food can make you unhappy. It all depends on recognising whether something is still serving you positively. 

For me, I have always been aware of what I put in my body, not because someone tells me so, but because I don’t get the best out of foods that make me feel lethargic and put me straight to sleep. I know the bare minimum amount of food that my body requires everyday, putting myself ‘on a roll’ is essential for both muscle growth and fat loss, food is energy and energy expends to appetite. Acknowledging each impedance on such a ‘winning streak’ if you like, then transfers into output, being able to function and actively contribute rather than be a moody burden to the room.

This will be my first prep and a huge test of both my body and willpower, I don’t wan’t to have to mope around for months on end for everyone’s sympathy while I eat fish and vegetables, nor do I think that is necessary to get in excellent shape. This will however be the point to which I will be pushing beyond that which I currently know about myself and how far I will be willing to push to get as lean as possible. 

I’ve done this for long enough to know just how important each factor contributes to improvement of both body composition and strength, ask yourself what’s the longest period you’ve genuinely stuck to a program or even just cleaner eating? You may surprise yourself. For those quick to compile their list of excuses, why they aren’t playing professionally, why they cannot go a week without drinking alcohol or put the successes of those which they envy down to genetics, how long have they ever stuck to something good for themselves? Do you want to be one of those people who blame everyone else for their downfall and cast judgement to those simply doing what they cannot. 

I will be documenting the journey of the next 10 months leading up to the show on my Instagram, which I’d be foolish to think is a lifetime away, so keep your eyes out for my off season training regime and my current eating habits going forward into the New Year.

Jake 

👊

 

 

Should I Train Core?

Fitness

Leading on from ‘Should I Train Abs?’ I’d like to start by noting that training of both the core and abdominals does not have to take precedence over other areas of the body.  Although it is an area that tends to add more load onto certain muscles unnecessarily if they happen to be weaker. From your vital organs working your way out, to the hair on your skin, imagine the importance of each layer and process functioning autonomously, How much does it differ as you edge closer to the surface of things we control? Do prolonged periods of sitting lead to lower back pain?

So what are the Core Muscles again?

Deep rooted core muscles pertaining postural balance and healthy movement. 

Key phrase here being the latter, we all experience pain and discomfort as some point or another, shrugging off injuries nonchalantly, taking a tablet over a trip to the doctors, self diagnosis, insisting on pushing through, and if only your CORE could be as stubborn.

Here are my top 5 Core exercises that could be a weekly asset to your routine

You’ve guessed correctly

1. Plank

30 seconds, 40 seconds, a minute, anything that’s with some sort of regular progression in mind. This is the same for the sides and ‘active’ plank performed on hands as opposed to elbows. Alternate hands or a shoulder tap to add instability on each side, acknowledging tasks and daily lifting of objects in different planes of motion throughout the day.

Advanced- Half Speed Plank Get-up’s 4×15

EXPERT- Body Saws

2. Bear Crawl

You’ll see these featured in any solid programme for competitive strength and conditioning, a full body movement which requires coordination and flexibility through bodyweight. In a bird/dog position, Start off by bringing your knees from the floor and just holding your weight across all four points of contact –hands, feet– taking slow steps out with each. Once you are comfortable holding both your upper and lower body in a staggered fashion progress to crawling in a straight line, alternating hands with feet, right hand left foot LHRF RHLF.

Advanced- Spiderman Crawl

EXPERT- Lizard Crawl (Pending)

3. Burpee

Jump as high as you can, hit the deck, get back up, don’t die.

Advanced- Man Makers

The same, but instead of jumping, clean and press a pair of dumbbells from the lying portion of the movement, add in a renegade row from the press-up position of the movement for extra instability and added difficulty.

EXPERT- Sledgehammer Burpees

Hit something hard, hit the deck whilst carrying the sledgehammer, alternate hands after each hit.

4. Ring Fallout

TRX is also equally as useful for this exercise. From a standing position, move your weight out in front of you, assuming a diving position, aiming to increase the distance from your hands to your feet. This can be done in reps or can be progressed further into a few second holds. Find the points to which your core shakes the most and iron them out, keep everything tight without overarching or rounding your back.

Advanced- Single Arm fallout

EXPERT- Standing Barbell Rollout

5. Farmers Walk 

Pick up something heavy, assume an upright posture walk the length of the gym, slowly, heel toe.

Advanced- Overhead Carry

EXPERT- A sustained carry of anything in excess of BODYWEIGHT(KG)

Try each of these on a day which isn’t going to impede on your workout, Farmers walks at the beginning of heavy back split may make your grip soft. Fallouts will burn out your core muscles so doing something like a squat or deadlift will be much harder to keep tight, and finally, best till last, burpees at the end as they are the hardest.

Look out for my next blog ‘Should I Compete?’

Is Caffeine Killing Your Appetite?

Fitness, Lifestyle

There’s no better way to awake from the hazy morning stupour like a shot of espresso, your favourite energy drink or a Sport’s Direct mug size cup of coffee, but what amounts are optimal and how much do stimulants impede on our eating habits?

Tolerance plays a huge part in whether caffeine may still be serving you in the same way as before, the same with anything for prolonged periods. The best piece of advice I can give before the other extreme of having none at all would be to first cut back and secondly observe your bodies response to fatigue;

are you yawning excessively, dragging yourself around or too tired to actively engage in conversation? At what time does this usually come about? Does this come straight after eating?

No time for breakfast? “Yeah but, Intermittent fasting?’ 

Prepare for work as you would a workout, try not to skip breakfast if it means you’re not eating till 2pm. Remember your body still uses energy to digest food so ‘breaking fast’ at lunchtime and cramming half the days worth of food in an hour will just make you tired and bloated. If you don’t eat breakfast make sure you have at least eaten something the night before rather than going without any food at all till the afternoon.

Got an early start?

Space your food apart, whether its oats, fruit, eggs or shakes, they don’t all have to be eaten at once, sustain your energy and go into the afternoon ready to eat but not to attack any food in sight.

Just like tolerance determines how much someone needs in order to feel the benefit, how much energy and concentration your job requires throughout the day is going to affect how quick you are to justify another coffee.

Have you had enough sleep?

This is an obvious one, but are you genuinely exhausted or just feeling the late afternoon ‘slump’ a time to which may have to cram all your work in the next few hours to get out on time. If this is the case, more caffeine would seem to ensure that you perform capably to time, does this warrant eating later since food is no longer needed?

Finally,

Is caffeine keeping you up at night?

I don’t mean binge-watching your favourite series,

Even the feeling of being just not ready to sleep yet, waking up intermittently throughout the night and waking up feeling as groggy as the morning before. This is not a feeling that seems as though it can be fixed with food, and so, CAFFEINE, the cycle continues.

Hope this is as informative as it is anecdotal.

In December I will be cutting out all caffeine for 1 month to see whether it still serves me, the results to which I will feature in another blog.

Look out for my next post ‘Should I Train Core? for my top 5 core exercises.

 

 

 

Should I Train ‘Abs’?

Fitness, Lifestyle

If you ask the majority of people what they’d rather have, great abs or the freedom of choice when it comes to food, they’d usually choose the latter. If you asked the same question about having a strong Core, well, ‘that’s the same thing right?’

When it comes to abs, having a tight midsection is a bi-product of numerous factors, those of which do require discipline, but considering that the ‘6 pack muscles’ can only really be seen at a certain body-fat % are they really worth training?

The superficial –those closest to the surface of the body– abdominal muscles are trained just like any other, although their visual development can be deceiving to often weaker, deep rooted core muscles pertaining postural balance and healthy movement.   

Lets start with the ABS,

Can you ‘contract’ them?

Can you target specific areas?

Do you feel like you’ve worked them the following day?

No? 

As much as I am always going to encourage doing more of something IF it serves a purpose, reflect on whether this extra twenty minutes in the gym can be utilised more effectively. Focus on your CORE* until you can answer YES to all three

Just like any other muscle group, sound abdominal training should involve focusing on the concentric part of the movement,

breathing IN as you would before submerging into water

bracing as you would receive a punch to the stomach.

When it comes to breathing OUT, contract your abs and exhale sharply to complete the movement.

Breathing with intent during the crunch of the movement will determine the difference between merely doing 1000’s of sit-ups and actively engaging your stomach muscles as they should be.

Do you have tightness in your lower back?

Chances are, anterior weakness in the midsection, especially after prolonged periods of sitting with a rounded –kyphotic– posture presents more stress to the lower back than necessary,

strength to the front is strength to the back. 

My top 4 exercises for abs along with the fundamental progress points that must be mastered beforehand

Twisting/Knee raise on parallel bars 15 side/ 15 middle/ 15 side

Lying knee raise 45 rep total

Partial into full rollouts

4×20 rollouts from knees

The ‘rolling’ plank

3-5 minute plank all sides

Cable crunches – all sides

4×20 weighted decline crunches

Performing each of these exercises regularly or even as part of a short 4 exercise circuit together will certainly strengthen your abs, but they will need just as much time to recover as any other muscle. If you were to do 20/30 minutes of ab training every 2 days, try to avoid doing them before a leg or a heavy compound lift day, if you cannot squeeze them into your routine aside these factors, do them at the end as opposed to before.

Look out for my next posts ‘Is Caffeine killing your appetite?’ and further videos on my Instagram for Core basics and Core progressions.

 

 

The Sounds of a City

Poetry

The sounds of a city roar up to the heavens, Sharp screeches and shrill shrieks. Laughter. An ensemble of beeps. Silence. Encore.
A sell out
At a traffic light, faces on loop

Her Frown. His Nod. Their Grin

Red lips .Amber hair. Green eyes.

Red hair. Amber coat. Green skirt

Green light. Amber light. Goodbye.
The galloping of a thousand heels drowns out a homeless quartet; a splash of coins rescues the tethered bark of a starving dog.
The sound of a thousand tips echo across the foreign lips of strangers wishing to help at the maelstrom of all the spitting and swearing. The loneliest of the four pours the tips into a plastic cup and swallows every penny, tangs of copper no more bloody than his trigger finger, a muffled salute to every teen dressed in army green.
His shouts don’t reach the ears of joggers, tuned into each road, carried by the signals of their destination. A thrashing of music fuels a lifetime of laps, a marathon of ignorance. Only the cars that buzz do swarm and serve, yellow, green and blue, red and white.
Black
A helicopters whirls
The sounds of a city roar up to the heavens, Sharp screeches and shrill shrieks. Laughter. An ensemble of beeps. Silence. Encore.