‘I Can’t Eat Like You’

Fitness, Lifestyle

So as some of you may have seen the post to this blog on my story, it features an extravagant effort to present what would be my typical third meal of the day, you’ve guessed it, sea bass and rice. It’s amazing what half a lemon, some baby gem lettuce and tomatoes can do for a plate, sometimes it can be as simple as that, putting a bit of passion back into the food you eat can go a long way.

The title of this post is an attempt to fill the ever enlarging void between quintessential ‘bodybuilding’,’food prep’ monotony and something potentially more sustainable that you can not only adhere to better in the long run, but serve as a better fit for yourself and your eating habits.

FISH, and a RICECAKE, we’ve all seen the video https://youtu.be/uYHAR8Xzsyo, and suppose Danny’s got the last laugh now as he is pretty jacked, but for most of us, is eating the same single meal really going to be conducive to your adherence? Just like the perception of thinking you have to run to lose weight, this definitely doesn’t have to be the only way to get results.

I personally enjoy eating fish, and it certainly hasn’t always been the case, STORY TIME

So a few years ago I was sea fishing in Greece, bearing in mind at this point I had only really eaten battered cod from the local chippy. On a rather choppy morning out on the open ocean, the waves churning and flowing underneath this tiny fishing boat, you can imagine the scene. Unless you’re accustomed to sea sickness, imagine bracing on the apex of a rollercoaster, having to distribute your weight up and down on a slippery deck swashing with fish guts and swimming with blood. It’s safe to say that getting a taste of authentic line caught fish was quickly soured by the urge not to throw my own guts up. If I can still eat fish everyday after that, I’m sure you can give it another try.

My point is, remove the emotional attachment from the foods that you eat, craving something so much that you gorge on it when you get the chance, or are physically repulsed by the smell, neither one is healthy by such stark contrast. Look at where this repulsion or obsession comes from, and see whether it can be fixed.

It was only until I accidentally ate what I thought was chicken pasta years later that I realised this whole fish phobia that I had created in my own head was all down to bad experience. Before you go and try hypnosis so that you can eat sardines straight out the tin or head to your nearest Yo Sushi to test whether it was successful, simply try a fish that doesn’t smell as strong and tastes great.

This recipe is ideal with a fish that’s not as strong or smoky as something like Salmon or Mackerel.

You will need,

2 Sea Bass or Monkfish Fillets

My man Old El Paso, Smoky BBQ Fatija Spice OR Paprika

1 Whole Lemon

Fresh Basmati Rice

I like to dress around the plate with lettuce or spinach and top it off with some baby tomatoes, if you’re a self proclaimed tomato snob like me, get yourself to Booths or M&S to really go all out on the quality of what you consume. I have ate this meal pretty much the whole way through my prep and it’s not done me any harm, just make sure you cook the skin nice and crispy on a medium heat so that it doesn’t stick to the pan, that’s the best bit!

So back to this blog, will eating from a food plan get you results faster? More often that not. Will confining you to certain food groups inadvertenly steer you clear of the ones which make it harder to lose weight, stay on track, or keep your tastebuds unspoiled, SURE. We all know you can have too much of a good thing, novelty wears off eventually, otherwise we’d never have to buy anything other that what we already have.

Food is exactly the same, a splash of moderation, a sprinkle of willpower and a healthy handful of good habits are necessary components of a successful,structured routine. If you have no structure or routine in place, it paves way for too much variety and choice, to the point where you can walk into a shop hungry and come out with pretty much anything that looks appealing at the time. If you eat a fish on a monday, steak or meat on a tuesday, veggie on wednesday and so on, think of the variety of nutrients and the spectrum of different minerals you can nourish your body with across the week. Your appetite isn’t just a grave that you dig up and fill back in with dirt, your gut is an entire organism which regulates your hormones, your mood, state of wellbeing and will certainly let you know when you have taken it for a ride.

On the flip side, remove the obsessive attachment from other foods, DON’T gorge on it and make yourself sick, this logic doesn’t always tend to work and it involves going overboard in order to create a change. Just like your perception of the bad food was tainted by the emotional response to it, the smell of fish guts for me, imagine a time where you ate way too much chocolate or sweets and how that made you feel, a food coma that never seemed to end. I’m not saying that this is a foolproof system that’s going to stop you raiding your cupboards when you are hungry but it may bring up an emotional response or reaction that then diverts you to a better alternative when needed be.

Try this meal for yourself and let me know what you think, have I persuaded you well enough to try something new or do you still need to be convinced?

How do I Survive Lockdown?

Lifestyle, Special

To be quite honest with you, this is by no means a survival guide as it is common knowledge, but I suppose it’s easy to forget normality when it’s often hard to remember it. Here’s my outlook on the current situation. If you’re here for the short answer and your attention span is no longer than the next line, have no fear.

Keep occupied, don’t kill anyone, clap on a thursday, embrace your social life in the greatest virtual capacity for the foreseeable and at least try to work on yourself before the grand reveal in the meantime.

Thanks folks.

KEY WORD- Occupied. Not PREOCCUPIED, communication during this time is KEY.

Bringing me onto the first of 5 TIPS for surviving lockdown;

  1. Occupy YOURSELF. In moderation. Not two footing your TV or even worse, one of your kids. Now, it’s not their fault that they haven’t yet mastered the ‘top bag finish’ or managed to snap their mums ankle with a Cruyff turn, REMEMBER, they’re yet to become a highly decorated, seasoned centreback for Parkwydnn B Team just like their dad. RELAX. Take the time away from those around you just for a little while, meditate, gather your thoughts, goooozefrabbbaabbbbb, massage your ear lobes, HAPPY THOUGHTS, but not TOO happy, you probably can’t do whatever it is you’re thinking RN.  Force some big deep breaths into a paper bag and return gingerly, back into the room. Whether you have co-dependants or not, it might be useful to designate a particular place in your home to retreat to, a space to reflect, observe stress and acknowledge where it is coming from. If this applies to you, distinguish between actual stress and stress for the sake of it, remember, stress is a human construct that gives things immediacy and actually gets things done. Most of the time you’ll know the answer or the root source this, confront it, resolve it if you can. You don’t need any stoicism or clever answer on my behalf to ackowledge the difference between stressing over films to watch or being drilled in the kite with a ‘through ball’ suppose it’s one thing, he’s getting better after all.
  2. PRACTICE, a new skill. Mums, Dad’s, frontline staff of our homes, apartments and flats, the bedrock to which our sanity and resistance to palpable boredom hang in the balance. Partners, children, Bake a lemon meringue pie, get in the garden, pick up an instrument which has been doing nothing but gather dust thus far. Open up your next call on ZOOM or house party with a gentle rendition of Hot Cross Buns or We Will Rock You. Start kitchen, think Glastonbury. TRYING is one thing, persevering is another. Playing to Stairway to Heaven over and over again won’t help you play like Robert Plant; break it down chords, cadence, rhythm, layers, suppose that goes for ANYTHING. Craft and concern the quality of your execution in any area of you life that needs some work. Skill and proficiency are one thing, the bare minimum requirement being your FULL ATTENTION. Don’t be distracted, things often worth pursuing and adhering require study and investment, this can’t be matched by merely just breezing through or playing along. IMMEDIACY, CONSEQUENCE, if I miss this note, I may aswell end my career right now, if i fail this set, I may aswell take up Crossfit, it’s really no joke. I mean don’t go and apply that logic to everything in your life, we need to fail sometimes to learn the value of inadequacy.

    Alternatively,

    when it comes to politics, uncontrollable factors, means to an end,

  3.  PLAY ALONG, NICELY. There’s no point stressing over things you can’t do anything about. We are all just as confused and unaware of what the H is going on, discerning what is fact from fiction, headline from small print. Inciting more fear and facilitating the precariousness of conspiracy is no less contagious as a virus itself. If you’re gonna commit time out of your day to read and share, let it be something with considerable benefit or value. Nourish and enrich, as opposed to force feeding to the brim, there’s only so much you can read or ingest all at once.
  4. DO as well as BE. Are you consciously making things happen or passively waiting  for the unfavourable. Fill the gaps in between the commercial breaks of your life, control the volume of your internal monologue rather than being silencing by simply louder sounds. You are what you eat; empty calories, sweet tasting lies and sour truths are going to churn and settle in the avenues of your mind, what you choose to do with the rest of your time will dictate how well you digest and absorb these matters without any problem. DO things that give you energy and BE the person that makes that all happen. There’s nothing worse than overthinking, analysis paralysis, my new favourite term which describes me so well. Weighing everything up cost:benefit is great initially, but you’ve got to strike out in order to find your swing.

    In that same air, my final point, gonna keep the last one short and sweet.

  5. All guns blazing? Bull in a china shop? Having Pre workout to take the bins out?  Lockdown is a marathon, not a sprint. Caffeine consumption. Do you really need as much as your normal hectic day. What are the qualities of someone who grinds their own the coffee beans and launches cans of Reign at old pensioners tending to their garden? Well it’s things that don’t tend to align with the kinds of virtues and characteristics typical of someone more likely to successfully withstand the reductions of LOCKDOWN; PATIENCE, TOLERANCE, UNDERSTANDING. Compare that to irritability, anxiety and having way too much energy than you can comfortably burn off.

    Jake 💪

 

 

UNTITLED

Special

‘On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.’

                                                Anonymous

It had been seven winters since The Dark, and while a pile of blistered corpses melted underneath a sky of swirling brains, a kind once residing in the shade have stepped in to light. Through the green canopy, meandering flames fanned a crescent moon, admiring its vast void with earth. Like the wolves that bask in its luminescent glow, a shoal of twisting fingers pulse to a legion of drums. Now that the heights of trees had exceeded everything beyond that of concrete and steel, the temptation to scale the boundaries of mankind’s previous ambitions was one only jaded by the storm of bodies that had fallen from the sky. There were no more signals to blister the air above or tyrants to ravage occupied lands, only a relenting song of melancholy to echo through the streets of civilisation. Amongst the many illusions performed by mankind, his greatest exploits were those concealed behind the precarious veils of virtue.

The first, Prudence, was a great centrepiece to dress the table of humanity, an assertive voice to silence and console the population during unprecedented financial turmoil. Though this only seemed to last as long as the cloak and dagger of outed politicians and high society which had benefitted an inception of hierarchical reform under a faceless flag. Mankind’s ship became the vessel of judgement day amidst a maelstrom sea of mother nature, it’s shrieking hull crumbled what remained of life under a thunderous sky, soon to be sinking with the hopes of his ancestors and dreams of his children. Prudence provided logic to an illogical disparity from human evolution, a mutation of insight to our primitive disposition, one that echoes in the warped bones of mammals who came before us.

 

What is Your Release?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

In the instance of current affairs, what would happens if you couldn’t exercise? Your daily dose of the outdoors jeopardised by unfavourable weather conditions? Would you enjoy the heat and warmth of your own home or insist on a few extra layers for the sake of ultimately feeling better afterwards?

Do you take to the occasion and warrant celebration, unwavering in your optimism for opportunity rather than setback? Or accept the fact that this will ultimately have to be replaced with something else?

Social events and celebrations put on hold, postponing the chance to have a drink and destress, would a few glasses of wine at home suffice in the meantime or would you just wait another few weeks to properly enjoy and appreciate?

What is your release?

and importantly to what extent do you feel satisfied?

Is it the physical purge of stress, or does this come as a subsidiary bi product of needing a good time?

On the flip side, and this goes back to the quintessential bodybuilding condition of COST:BENEFIT, could you benefit from ascertaining a certain point, a quantifiable limit to the benefit? Minimising everything else that comes with this jading effect of consequence and reaffirming the positives of things that you love to do.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD TIME?

If the gym is your release, if you’re competing and your usual machines are taken, out of order or the gym is simply too busy to train effectively, would this discourage or throw you off to the point of resentment? Does change or anything out of your control scare you?

Can you acknowledge the opportunity to JUST TRY SOMETHING ELSE?

THE GYM IS CLOSED.

So work out a new game plan, the novelty of rest can wear off quite quickly after coming to the summize of does thou even lift bro after a few days off. Here’s where most people fail, they either use this time to guilt trip themselves into feeling like a piece of shit for not going, and do something about it… Or bury their head and not go at all. Now these are what seem to be two completely different means of getting a release, both ends of the coin, moderation and obsessive. It’s clear that when the obsessed get denied of the things they cannot live without, they struggle more than taking the moderation route, a scale which can be ascertained from a simple would you rather, and here comes the golden question,

Is it the gym, a few beers? Seeing your mates, seeing your girlfriend, going for a walk?

Whichever means of feeling better has somewhat of a hold on you unless you can accept going without it.

There are plenty of these conscious decisions and outlets to which we can manage such pressure valves, stress relievers and means of serving purposeful bearings in our lives. Whether or not it’s a real possibility that gyms could be closed for a good few months, for the sake of comparison to any other release in your life besides drugs and alcohol, think just how important exercise is to you. To your mental state and the impending turmoil you could face if you turn a blind eye to it over the next few months.

Would you put it over your main release if you had to choose, a few beers on a friday for a complete lockdown where you would be confined to one room in your house until further notice. It’s crazy to see just how many people are out and about recently with the current situation, whether or not they have suddenly understood the value of exercise and fresh air or aim to defy the rules, but that’s another story.

So, whatever your release is, use it sparingly, you wouldn’t bang out every exercise in the book merely for the sake of it, space out the things that bring you satisfaction and fulfilment, aside from the things that just make you feel good temporarily. This is taking the same kind of precedence as the very first post on my Blog, Short Term Satisfaction, Long Term Misery, the same applies right now.

Yes we are in a crisis, we need our pacifiers and releases, but don’t allow this dysfunctional situation encourage you to go backwards with your progress, undo your motivations and reasons to carry on, because if you lose that, the only thing that can be gained is temporary measures for feeling better. Choose your releases wisely, keep active, stay safe, stay motivated.

Jake💪

Top 5 Supplements for Sleep

Fitness, Lifestyle, Review, Supplementation


Before just throwing money at your sleep hygeine and hoping for that illusive 8 hours on your Fitbit, look at singular ingredients which effectively improve your stress symptoms and aid recovery in the long term as opposed to anything that’s just going to knock you out and have you dragging your knuckles on your morning commute.

There’s so many different products containing these ingredients and in different dosages, so be mindful of certain ingredients alongside other  compounds that come in the form of higher concentration proprietary blends before purchasing and potentially making a habit of it.

In no particular order, here are a few sleep supplements that I have personally tried myself during prep last year and that which I have continued to take going forward to assist better sleep and stress recovery.

  1. Ashwagandha/ KSM66

I’ve probably been taking this supplement for the past year and have definitely noticed the benefits with regards to sleep and better yet sleep ‘quality’ on the whole. Stress management is essential when it comes to a successful prep, but these definitely have a place in effective stress reduction day to day also, not just for bodybuilding and high impact exercise.

It doesn’t make me groggy the next day which is essential when getting up at 5am and earlier. Nor does it leave an aftertaste, which some herbal capsules do when digesting. This is a lighter note which one can apply to those likely to forget or misdose different products when taking a few at once, it wouldn’t be dangerous if you happened to forget a dose and have more than one. Now I’m not saying that’s a green light to have as many as you can swallow but You’ll be surprised how much harder it would be to wake willingly to the sound of your alarm had you done this with sleeping tablets or anything stronger. Overall I’ll continue to take this product throughout the year, I have around 800mg half an hour before bed and may have slightly more on a higher output day or one with more stimulants or caffeine in the mix.

  1. ZMA

While ZMA shares similar effects to Ashwagandha, promoting deep sleep and lucid dreaming, ZMA assists the regulation of various vitamins and minerals that are responsible for essential functions of the body, now I’m not a doctor so I couldn’t tell you the specifics supporting these claims but all I know is that this supplement helps me feel well rested and resolved in any particular area of thought that I have been repressing subconsciously, which is essentially what sleep is for right? Besides the obvious resting part. This isn’t something I’d haphazardly have too much of as some of the most vivid dreams I can recall have been whilst taking ZMA. Great product use with caution if you tend to have nightmares already.

  1. 5-HTP

5-Hydroxy tryptophan is an amino acid which helps produce serotonin, the chemical which ascertains the extent or lack thereof, further concerning your overall mood and wellbeing. A prolonged deficiency of these chemicals can be negatively contributing to cases of irritability, depression, anxiety and essentially anything antonymous to happiness.
People tend to take this supplement before and after taking anything which will further affect serotonin production, heavy stim pre’s, party drugs and alcohol. Though prolonged use of 5-HTP would essentially counteract and negate the bodies natural production of serotonin, resulting in a suppresive, overcompensating effect of these feel good hormones. Too much of a good thing isn’t good for anyone, but if you want a pick me up to help you sleep after a stressful day or want to reduce the come down symptoms of a few too many nights out this may be just the thing. Do your own research before taking anything frequently.

  1. Melatonin

Matthew Walker, the author of ‘Why We Sleep’ commented on people’s reliance to sleeping tablets and such to counteract the biproduct of disjointed work schedules, too much caffeine and not enough rest. Melatonin is our sleep hormone, it determines night from day which in turn tells our body when it’s time to sleep. Anything naturally occurring in the body is easy to justify taking considerable amounts of, its already there anyway I just need more of it? Well just like 5-ATP there’s only so much application of supplementing these chemicals in the short term before it becomes detrimental to long term production. On top of this, it’s hard to quantify the exact amount of melatonin contained within certain supplements and products that probably won’t be readily available at your local Holland and Barrett. Nor will they be easy to get hold of, but if you do shift work, are catching more flights than feeling’s and would benefit without being jetlag for longer than necessary, do your research and find a product with the dosage clearly stated.

  1. Valerian root

Considered ‘nature’s valium’ valerian also has the potential to reduce to stress and anxiety alongside being a great night cap supplement. It inhibits the breakdown of Gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA, an amino acid which blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in the nervous system, promoting autonomic rest and recovery. I personally haven’t tried GABA and this is something which I have been recommended on numerous occasions, but I’m assuming this works in the same way valerian root does, alongside serotonin production and sleep enhancing benefits.

I personally wake up groggily when I’ve taken previously, maybe look at this kind of alternative when you don’t have to get up early and need to be firing on all cyllinders from the off.

Products that contain these ingredients…

Sleep-er by Trec Nutrition

-Melatonin,

-Valerian root

-5-ATP,

Cool as a Cucumber by Boxed off

-ZMA

-Ashwagandha KSM66

Do your research and get your rest 👌

You’re gonna need it 💪

Jake 👊

Rest and Digest

Fitness, Lifestyle, Supplementation

So a lot of what we allow our bodies to do autonomously comes down to what we are aware of ourselves. For something like sleep, intake of nutrients and how well we can further process them is easy to overlook, when we adhere loosely to ‘5 a day’, ‘plenty of greens’, ‘protein for recovery’ and you’re good to go.

It’s this general rule of thumb approach to health which applies to that exact degree, generally, yes balance, yes life and yes you can eat whatever tickles your fancy as long as you are active enough, sure. Especially when the alternative would otherwise be eating absolutely everything you can get your hands on without any regard or remorse, this kind of advise still definitely serves a purpose.

Let’s look at it this way, Fight or flight, the alternative state to rest and digest, our bodies defense to danger and stressors. A reflex which protects us from the elements, burns up calories and would probably deck someone at the checkout in M&S rather than taking the time to read a label.

How much of our impulses and balance of these two states influences our eating lifestyle habits?

You only have to look at how a typical day pans out aside the accessibility of ideal food choices or convenience to match the need to fuel in between meetings and busy schedules. There’s only so many times you can prioritise work over what you put in your body before you realise that you’ve taken all your holiday days and you still don’t feel any better for it.

Can the same be said for sleep? Short changing your bodies chance to rest and digest, spurring on this need for more energy whilst simultaneously starving it of both. A looming overcompensation surely awaits, which is why we always feel so lethargic and tired on a weekend when we’ve actually slept more than in the week. Acknowledge your bodies demand for more rest aside your ability to keep it awake with caffeine and stimulants, they might suppress your appetite and sleepy symptoms momentarily but the demand for deep, restful sleep goes up even further as a result. I do believe there’s such a thing as a sleep hangover which can only further impede on the following week considering frequent weekend debauchery and ludicrously late nights.

Do you starve and gorge? Burning off the remnants of last night’s takeaway in one frantic day without the need to eat and enough adrenaline fuelled stress to make it easier to forget?

Eat and rest?

Do you eat purely for enjoyment or performance? The latter merely being a determining factor for exactly that, you can’t expect to put crisp and dry in an F1 car and expect to win. The same goes for Slimming World and all else aside from macro or calorie counting, everything fits a purpose. If one or the other holds you more accountable for what you consume and better serves your lifestyle or fitness goals I personally think just stick to it.There’ll always be a way to lose weight given you have a big enough incentive to do so, alongside the various new methods and diets that emerge off the back of conventional dieting that doesn’t grab people the same way a quick fix does. Ascertain whether it is sustainable enough to stick to over a longer period with the most effective approach and all other variables considered?

There’s only so much vigour to come out of fads and flexible dieting besides its passive allure, the thought of eating from a post stick note size list of foods certainly doesn’t sound appealing or sustainable to the majority of people. What is important is finding something that works day in day out and only stopping when it stops working.

The same can be said for investing all of your money in your sleep health before putting the simpler of solutions to the test. It’s this immediacy and buy now pay later mentality that has plagued any such bearing or reward for life’s simplest pleasures, a good night’s sleep being one of them? Do you need an expensive mattress? Lavender spray? A Spotify playlist consisting purely of humpback whale songs and shamanic drumming?

Now I’m not saying that any of these things are foolproof methods or required means of helping you sleep, what I am saying is everyone has their own relative habits, if you can do one thing differently and it means you feel better for it, why not?

So here are 5 things you can do, followed by 5 potential supplements you can research for your own use that I have personally tried myself…

1. Shower close to bedtime

The sudden temperate drop from the heat of the shower will allow your body to cool down and rest quicker rather than tossing and turning flustered with heat.

2. Black out your room, that means devices too.

You hear all kinds of witchcraftery with blue light exposure and the effect it has on our brain, while a lot of people tend to use watching something just before they go to sleep to help, and here’s one objection to this rule already. Unless you have to watch something before bed, ditch your phone, put it on charge, close your curtains, turn off any other lights.

3. Eat a Carb rich meal late on.

Now before you all jump down my throat and tell me how you can’t digest food properly this close to bed time, it works for me. So unless you get bloated or struggle to get comfortable shortly after eating a late meal, stick to a few hours before.

4. Light a candle, make it a ritual

Lighting something, whether it’s incense or your favourite candle tells you that’s its time to chill out or time for bed. We’re creatures of habit, just like a morning coffee, anything subtle that can remind us to start winding down is worth doing.

5. Fresh sheets, fresh start

The national sleep foundation found 7/10 subjects recalled a much better sleep and actually looked forward to bedtime much more than not, now unless you’re royalty or have the luxury of sleeping in a nice hotel often enough, the likelihood of fresh sheets every night is pretty unrealistic. Maybe even change them fresh midweek in order to accommodate the last few busy days and crucial sleeps before the weekend?

I can quite happily sleep anywhere if I’m tired enough and it’s near an open window. So if you can find the best ways you can drift off faster and without interruption, repeat this process every night. Making sleep sound like a military operation, but if you’re up early every day and your performance is residing on the quality of your rest, it’s worth looking into more closely.

Now since were trying to utilise all of the above before all of the things below, I’m putting these next 5 products in a seperate blog as a means of encouraging your own research and understanding of them before buying.

In no particular order…

1. Ashwagandha

2. ZMA

3. Melatonin

4. Valerian root

5. 5-HTP

These are all things which I will discuss in more detail in my next blog

‘Top 5 supplements for sleep’

Happy rest and digest-ing

Jake 💪

5 Ways to Improve Creativity

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

There’s something about the allure of ‘the magic pill’ which can overshadow our own innate capacity to think creatively and effectively. Relying on caffeine and stimulants to fuel thought processes disrupt the natural inception of our ideas and subconscious decisions, sidelining the full extent of the our rawest potential to the confines of logic.

There’s nothing worse than having 1001 ideas pouring into your head and being too internally critical or suppressive to the most important dots awaiting to be connected.  Alongside the function of problem solving, for me this is the essence of all creativity, a constant battle of abstraction and reason, the means to a beginning, concluding an end. Every thought and measure of energy which takes shape within a piece of writing, marketing campaign or business model goes through a strict vetting process; meticulous shapes of words on a page, scrunched scraps of paper which don’t make the cut.

If having more energy gets you to the destination of logic or reason even faster, how many other loose or abstract ideas did you miss along the way. Then there are the births of entirely new ideas built upon initially unfamiliar, discarded entities, look at the architecture of the Imperial War Museum, conceptual poetry, art made from rubbish and cigarette butts.

Modafinil, adderal, ritalin and concoctions of study drugs are now a highly dependable means for a lot of people, the difference between getting all or none of your work done at all. These compounds only enhance the means of getting into ‘FLOW’ faster, aid concentration for people with ADHD and other conditions which make for sticking to the task at hand, difficult. If you’re experimenting with different ways of becoming more creative, why not make your first creation a routine, a ritual, checklist that you follow just before you set your mind and words to paper. Ultimately you want to find a sustainable way to work effectively, to deadlines or just without distraction. Drugs or stimulants may help you come up with an original first paragraph, but is the rest of the story going to materialise before the impending comedown or brain fog?

So, without further adieu, my top 5 tips for CREATIVITY

  1. Find your most productive time of the day.

In E. Jean Carroll’s Biography of Hunter S. Thompson, the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, she revealed the extent of the writer’s working habits, absurdly late nights and infamous drug use. It begs the question however, whether this did in fact facilitate the extent of his creativity or merely pose as a suppressive measure for an otherwise over-abundance of ideas, thoughts, dispositions that didn’t need any much more probing to surface. Your most productive time could be first thing in the morning as you wake, before external distractions and the onslaught of information from your devices. Ditch your emails, socials and impressions, this could be your most impressionable and inspired state. You essentially want to influence your own ideas and create them, not spectate and interact with things that have already materialised around you. It’s great to be supportive of your friends and their businesses, but merely being a spectator to someone else’s race won’t help you finish your own.

Not of all us can commit our entire working day to our own pursuits and products, when the time comes to reflect, it is often hard to distinguish between the two, work and well, still technically work but with even less immediacy of consequences if you didn’t show up. Hold onto at least an hour or two AM/PM, a creative ‘window’ that only concerns and enriches your own thinking or business, ensuring that you’re not forgetting any ideas or losing out on sleep.

2. Don’t wait for ideas, go and find them

Words aren’t going to appear on paper like they would be routinely delivered via a nice neat letter, enveloped within HMRC brown and accurately dated. If anything it’s more like someone throwing a brick through your window, rawness, interaction, profanity, throwing it back, keeping it active. Passing thoughts may feel a random and uncontrollable process, but it’s still a reaction to a question which you may require or have unwittingly demanded from the universe. Unprecedented emotions cannot be pigeonholed or justified by rational thinking. This doesn’t mean that we have to become irrational to facilitate great ideas, but we do have to experience plenty of other means outside the confines of our own comfortable rationale in order to make our thoughts reactive.

J.K Rowling didn’t hallucinate the interior of Gringotts bank from inside a greasy spoons cafe, nor would she have based any of her character’s off the back of routine trips to the dentist. She worked for Amnesty International earlier in her career and had first hand experience with abuse, injustice and all the necessary proponents for the escapist narrative. What we think and what we create are opportunities to either attract or repel elements of the world around us, an eventuality which makes a half cup emptier, the counterpart, fuller. We can either use bad experiences to further influence the world around us negatively or change the narrative. Harry Potter never would have made it to the big screen if he was based on a young asylum seeker seeking refuge from Syria. Rowling’s work was so far removed from her own experiences that it ushered in a highly contrasted genre to the forefront, fantasy. So if you’re looking at writing romance or comedy, don’t just research sweet-tooth love stories, but heartbreak, tragedy, the impending reality of grief.

3. Embrace the noise, messy is more

I believe there are difference’s between the many stages of creativity, and I’m certainly not claiming that procrastination is always a necessary component of such a process, but merely struggling to land on an idea amidst plenty of options is certainly better than having none at all. This is where you write as much as possible down on paper and see what remains to stand out when you come back to your notes. If an idea is good enough it won’t be much different the second time around. Make multiple tabs for each separate thought no matter how irrelevant at the at the time, there’ll be chance to ascertain whether it’s of any use to you once all your ideas are out in the open. Connect the dots and ideas that both compliment each other or even if they are conflicted in some way, everything in life tends to satisfy two poles, compliance, disagreement, love, hate, experience, naïveté, maybe your answer can be found in the antonym.

4. Pair your procrastinations

‘Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards’ -James Clear.

What seems appealing right now won’t be when have the same appeal when you’re up to your eyeballs in looming deadlines or consequences that have more immediacy than the ones you face relaxing on the couch. Pair your best and worst tasks together so that you can at least stick out the one that you’re most likely to quit half way through. Coffee and reading, cardio with audiobooks, ironing and chores with your favourite show, if you’re enjoying one thing, you’ll forget how much you hate the other. Procrastinate your way back to productivity if you need to take a break from writing, working and thinking in general. Which brings me onto my last tip…

5. Know when to stop trying

If it’s brain fog that makes it difficult to get out of the starting blocks, finish a paper or come up with a new idea, there’s no point in forcing it, nothing good ever came from that. It’s only when you’ve left something till the last minute like I used to do with all of my university assignments till I realised that I was merely capping my potential at the whims of last minute resorts. You’d have to be pretty lucky or a genius to uncover your greatest ideas and plot-lines the night before a hand-in, but then again, you’ve still got to write the damn thing. Make your best and most creative capacity the most accessible part, your worst being resultant of not effectively making time to process and retain USEFUL information. The very state in which we abuse and suppress when we choose to binge watch series, entertain our irreverence and essentially become expert hoarders of useless information. Encyclopaedias of everything but the knowledge we need and execution of practice.

It’s cultivating this state of confusion, frying your attention with big lights, suspense and drama which makes it all too easy to do everything but the task at hand, but there’s a reason why you can’t think straight. Find out what’s blocking the pathways between, could this be drugs, alcohol, lack of sleep? Stress? All of the above?

Look out for my next blog ‘Rest and Digest’ to find out.

Make the time for yourself and unlock your ‘FLOW’

Jake

The Transformation Paradox

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

If you have products or services to sell, results or proof of what potential customers can expect before buying can be the difference between ‘take my money’ and ‘we’ll be back later’

Just because someone can get in great shape themselves, does not mean they know exactly how you can too.

When it comes to fitness goals and the appropriate steps one must apply in order to get there, has the necessary suddenly been surpassed by the ‘would you rather?’ Refusing to pay in sweat, whilst paying to be told what you want to hear by the bucket load.

Would you rather, eat out every night and dine like a king/queen?

or eat the same thing every single meal for a week?

train a bodypart or  an exercise you enjoy?

or do hours of cardio?

Calories for x,y,z of all your favourite food and treats, burn that off on your fitbit and we’re back on track, permission to say ‘you’ve absolutely smashed it!!’ after every set of manageable work and acclaim for the results you want despite the time frame.

In a world full of empty promises and wolf of wall street hard-sell dogma, who would you rather give your money to? If anyone at all? To supplement motivation and mediate such a personal battle of extremes. To trust that they will have your best interest in mind rather than just getting a good photo in 6/8 weeks.

Back yourself.

everything you’ve got, or not at all.

You don’t have to do any of the above any more than what you expect to work, relish at the thought of cardio knowing that it just works, if you can learn to enjoy it as well that’s a bonus. I don’t eat the same meal everyday, nor do I resent eating any meal, if I don’t enjoy eating something I’m not going to stick to it, but there’s stark differences enjoying a piece of fish over a pizza, get to know these too.

If you mess up today, you get a fresh start tomorrow,

If you can’t run, go for a walk, if your gym partner let you down, go anyway, get yourself ahead of them and push them to make it up.

If you can’t motivate yourself, no one can, but not trying at all is leaving it to chance.

I very rarely push transformation packages and challenges, it’s something I tried early on in my transition to personal training, but found out first hand just how difficult people find sticking to a diet plan.

So was it hard to stick to? Would it work for me and not for them? Would I be able to eat what they think is healthy for the same period and get in just as good shape? This argument of genetics, the cruelty of inherited conditions, insulin resistance and such, are they rational reasons to revoke the idea of exercise or more excuses?

Meet them half way.

Does this mean I incorporate chocolate and croissants into my programme, NO. Would I swap out a 30 minute cardio session for the sake of being the good cop, NO. Unless there’s a reason for doing less, always do more. You get to your usual corner earlier than usual on a run, go a few blocks further, you don’t feel out of breath so much this time, go faster? There’ll be one voice that says stop and another that says carry on, the latter is the person you want to become.

Jake

Resolutions

Lifestyle, Mindset

I wonder how many people have already broken their new habits going forward into 2020?

‘At least the intention was there’

This is the statement I wish to pick apart, for the sake of distinguishing hurdles from set backs and failure’s from this fixed state of ‘failed’

Having ‘Good intentions’ to me is like having a contingency plan for letting someone down, you didn’t intend to, but already having something in place for the likelihood means that you left something to chance.

‘I meant to, was supposed to, tried to…

eat healthier,

exercise,

cut down on smoking,

get on my feet more.

But considering I haven’t done it today means I haven’t resolved my bad habits and am therefore by definition, a failure.’

Whatever reason(s) for not doing any of the above today is just another opportunity for tomorrow, yeah you might have failed today, 5th January, but doesn’t mean you’re gonna wait till 2021 for a fresh start.

It’s all in the words and how concrete you can make the narrative. Whether you accept that you have fail-ed absolutely, are a fail-ure or currently fail-ing one component of a larger process. The latter indicates how such efforts are ongoing, do-ing and active, in that you must still be revok-ing the finalised notion of failure despite what comes with it.

This is good, it means that you want to change enough and are prepared to fail as a biproduct of defying the norm, the mould or the person that you need to break out from. Failure shouldn’t ever be made a destination, ‘alas I have failed’ warning other people of the treachery, save them the heartache, consolation or attention. We are only human, irrational, emotional, primitive, quick to find more reasons to hide away in our caves than face our problems.

Making better choices and holding yourself accountable for them isn’t something that should take an ice age to realise the consequences. Whether you see a slip up as a chance to get back on your feet or an indicator that you aren’t good enough, it’s no real reason to just play dead and hope that everyone just walks over you.

If it were up to me I’d put the inevitability of failure so immediately in the forefront that success in anything is more so a biproduct than it is a destination. A subversion of these two things is the difference between sticking to your guns and taking ownership of your own fate or leaving it to chance. The outcome goes back to what we mentioned about intention, a firm resolution that isn’t unwavering, it might not be perfect or something you can consistently do everyday, but as much as you can will certainly suffice.

It’s easy to use a new year as a fresh start where there are no consequences to avoiding your new intentions, but has this condition of thinking confined you to the same person you were the year before? You have another year to be the judge.

 

(C)lean Bulking

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

If you already seem to struggle to put weight on, it’s clear that both your metabolism and expenditure favour the same outcome. Being leaner than most people and having the capacity to lose weight quickly is both a blessing and a burden for those with weight gain in mind, granted what we know about consuming too many bad calories or ‘dirty bulking’

This is one ‘method’, great in the sense of committing to significant weight gain, as this is often the factor which puts most people off, however, attempts to gain real weight is no real excuse to simply get fatter.

It was nice to learn the hard way I suppose.

So fat gain. It’s a necessary precursor to muscle gain considering that you’re eating more than you burn, but not just an excuse to eat whatever for the sake of getting stronger. Strength gain and progressive overload is essential, but matters which still don’t warrant this need to over-consume. It’s very easy for this to happen when performance is spot on, and weights seem to be flying up alongside strength increases, it’s still being able to retain all of this when you can’t get the food in.

If you can put your weight on the scale aside from the numbers in the gym and be mindful of the extra weight you’ll have to work back off at some point or another, it’s pretty straight forward in theory. It just depends how much weight you want to accumulate, in what time frame, and for what reason. I chased down 17 stone by whatever means possible, in retrospect if I could have sat comfortably at even a stone less, I would’ve had more time to get lean. Could have probably retained more muscle and reserved the need to implement drastic measures for fat loss later down the line to a  greater effect.

The same goes for dieting, you can’t just decide one day you’re on plan and the next be an exemption, this way you’ll never truly know the extent of your best effort, only your breaking point. It’s an irony which praises the capacity of doing what most people aren’t prepared to, which makes it ok when you fail. We are all too quick to celebrate endeavours concerning our bodies, because it divulges the connection between the gripes of our younger selves ‘I want this’, ‘I want that’ and the adult which says ‘no you’ve had enough already’

Weight gain is an equally precarious matter to those celebrating a lighter weigh in or successful transformation, as an over-celebration to weight increases only result in getting fat too quickly. When I see that someone is doing a ‘minicut’ this can either be adherence to a base recovery diet off the back of over-indulgence or simply an attempt to regain body composition.

Clean bulking is much more effective when body composition is improved, in that anyone can load creatine, carb cycle big meals and look as though they’ve gained lbs of pure muscle, it’s usually not the case. Find a target weight or aim for regaining a body composition that doesn’t just look good first thing in a morning with no food or water. Everyone can say they look lean or their best at this point but it isn’t a true reflection of your physique. The aim is to allow the body to assimilate nutrients from regular meals throughout the course of the day without bloating, affecting performance or having a reverse effect on appetite.

This is bound to happen if you’re just piling in healthy food and expecting to add muscle whilst staying lean, especially meals which taste much nicer when you’re dieting and actually hungry as opposed to eating whilst still relatively full most of the time.

Between water, fat, and everything else in between, it’s not so hard to regain a decent enough physique following a few weeks of overconsumption, but months at a time do no one any favours. To laugh in the face of seemingly minute increase in calories may be reckless if you already have a decent appetite, but bumping up calories too soon only increases the risk of spilling over and interrupting gradual progression. This would only be necessary for the hardgainer who cannot consistently eat enough calories to gain weight everyday and has to compensate for their expenditure, even so, there’s only so much you can consume at once.

If you wish to start your own gaining phase, work out your own TDEE aside what you currently eat and go from there.

Look out for my next blog,

‘The Candle at Both Ends’

Jake