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 💪

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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