‘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?

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

(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

Get on a Roll

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

You will never be more than one decision away from an opportunity to take your foot off the gas, have a break and say ‘Why not?’ If it feels like all we do is work, train or stress over the sake of better, an impending burnout will most likely come before any results.

You hear the words sacrifice and accountability thrown around when it concerns one’s mindset, firmly resolute in place or a wavering set of ideals which fluctuate daily. This doesn’t mean that you cannot still be dedicated, motivated or eagerly awaiting to see change for the better, it’s lacking the conviction to make consistently weary judgements.

Being on a roll can make us allude to better decisions. Small doses of accomplishment, rather than one bit hit of dread. You could say that the things which give us the most pleasure often come with some regret, but that shouldn’t dictate the path to which you seek out as one only regretful and with no benefit. We all have a release, how trigger happy we are to press that button or not may be something which remains to reinforce how adequately we fare when such is taken from our grasp.

How long could you live without the things which seem to bring fulfilment and serve purpose, are they merely a fragment of time which preoccupies vacancy? boredom? Or do they just overshadow further prospects for the future?

I’ve been telling everyone about my recent experiment with cold showers. I wouldn’t say it’s changed my life in the sense that I can now withstand freezing temperatures or that it’s made my breathing foolproof under extreme stress, but I would say that it’s put me on a roll. It’s like a chain reaction of doing one thing you don’t usually to question WHY you don’t? It’ll come to a point where you notice that time is just an easy default answer. Would you sense a disservice on your behalf if you didn’t keep on track, turning up, calling yourself out without an audience to praise or spur you on.

This is the key point, and something you observe in light of people’s reasons for exercise, some people NEED to be pushed. The difference being, on a roll or not, when you’re at home or away from the gym, there’s no one telling you ‘good job’ or ‘keep going’ which probably makes you feel like you’ve got away with it. If you’re someone that needs to be pushed, invest in someone that will keep this a constant, and not just when it suits them.

The reality is. Nothing truly works effectively unless you stick it out. It’s easier said than done this time of year when there’s always room for improvement, but are things going to be any different in 2020?

Get on a roll,

Whether it’s a class, a walk, a gym session or just refraining from the things that you know are holding you back, push on without regrets or WHAT IF’s, there’ll always be WHY NOT’s when you’re trying to break out from habits. Make your new decision the habit and not just a wish.

Look out for my next blog.

‘(C)lean Bulking’

Jake.

Fasting or Starving?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

Throughout the day, insufficient nutrition can often lead to periods of hunger, onset fatigue and influence changes to our mood.

Whether you’re fasting because you don’t like the idea of breakfast as your first meal or simply favour time elsewhere as you wake, this contrast of starving and filling only sets you up for more confusion later on in the day.

By confusion I’m referring to the difference between being full and malnourished. If you think this involves under eating, you’re right, but it’s more of an under eating of the things you NEED rather than what you do not. The title of this blog was initially ‘NEED > GREED’ in that the better we get at differentiating between the two, we have more energy, less moods and no repercussions further down the line. The reasoning for keeping overindulgence and greed from the title is that we are all aware of this happening one way or another. Demonising hunger and cravings doesn’t help anyone. What is important isn’t the WHAT, but the WHY, and the WHY is usually because of under eating.

Prolonged periods of starving and filling, fasting and binging, has a hoarding effect on calories you could have been burning throughout the day. You don’t want to be training with lethargy, neither on your only meal of the day, it’s about having sufficient energy to fuel a decent workout. Merely starving yourself for the sake of a larger meal later on, only denies your body of the bare minimum required to function, make it even more difficult when you can’t help but fill to the absolute brim later on.

I don’t want to get into the black hole of protein synthesis or how much you can absorb in one sitting. How macros are respective to the numerical target and not the quality of food. But just think how long it takes your body to process all those nutrients in one go. It’s like trying to merge twelve cars into one lane, hoping that none of them crash or break down. Or downing a bottle of spirits then eating a high fat meal, your liver will probably be too preoccupied to effectively breakdown the food before the task at hand.

Firstly. Ascertain various points of the day where you can add in more meal(s). Granted that you have enough time to properly digest and assimilate nutrients before breaking your muscles down during training. Rushed meals and hoarded calories only make for disjointed hunger and cravings later on in the day. A time to which isn’t always convenient for cooking or anticipating the best options.

Unless you’re hitting a session fasted or doing cardio before your first meal gone midday, you’re not going to burn that much more fat to soundly justify, if any more at all. Eating is what increases metabolism, enough to suffice till the next and often enough to reach a level of satiety that doesn’t leave room for too many options.

It is options which give the fasting protocol more appeal, a window to eat, another to fast, useful for people that usually eat the most after 8pm. As everything which has a place within YOUR routine, find out the best approach for you. Acknowledge when you get hungry, respectively to the time of day, and what you’ve consumed so far. It’s usually self explanatory as I mentioned in Why We Get Cravings, we are missing something. If it’s FAT, have more of that within your first meal of the day. If it’s sugar, have a small amount of fruit throughout the day.

AND FINALLY.

CARBS. They are NOT the enemy. If you keep skipping carbs irresponsibly, you’re only going to want them more. This is where we get the majority of our energy from. Energy is performance. Bad performance is mood. Mood is stress. Stress leads to hunger. The cycle continues.

Look out for my next blog

‘GET ON A ROLL’

Jake.

Why Do We Get Cravings?

Fitness, Mindset

A pinch of salt, a dash of this, a splash of that. When it comes to cooking, it’s a fine skill to get these things right. There are many reasons why we aren’t all Michelin star chefs. Is it a perfected arrangement of fresh produce? Meticulous measuring devices? A unique blend of spices? It goes back to what we were saying about superlatives; best, worst, fittest, strongest, TASTIEST.

Food from a restaurant will always be served to SATISFY. The same can be said for what we decide to put in our body, so when our tastebuds suddenly become stubborn food critics we can’t help but wonder why things that once seemed appetising just don’t hit the spot?

TASTE and CRAVINGS.

Not to get the two confused, our tastes and cravings are two separate means of being satisfied, one is making decisions based on what we enjoy and the other can often be completely irrational toward things with no nutritional benefit or further resolve.

Whether you see cravings as good or bad, cravings are messages which tell our bodies that we are missing something. Missing, either in that we physiologically depend on having more of something in order to sustain and bring back balance, or emotionally, to make us feel better. How quick we are to ascertain not only the difference between the two, but pacify whatever cravings we have to a REASONABLE degree of satiety, will determine how much longer it has a voice, and whether we insist to listen.

The impending case of binge eating, whether it’s the first thing to hand or the last thing you’d expect to eat, are merely filling the gaps that can only be filled by what you crave. Your brain sees an over abundance of possibilities and makes demands, whereas your stomach only recognises one thing at a time.

What if you crave nutella because your blood sugar is low,

Peanut butter because you haven’t consumed any fat,

salty food because your dehydrated.

and the things that you happen to rectify those deficiencies with are equally consumed as they are demanded, you get an easy justification of being emotionally dependant. There are plenty of other sugar and fat sources, plenty of alternatives to assist with mineral balance that doesn’t concern high amounts of caffeine and replacements. What you fancy and what you need are two different things entirely.

The best contrast I can provide between the two is comparing restaurant quality food to a ready meal when you are hungry. Though it’s easy to use savoury food as an example, in that it is more filling, sugar is no different when you understand why you want it so much. No matter how bland or inferior to a cooked meal, the ready meal will do the trick if its been a while since your last meal. Though they’re not ideal, most of which will be very dense in calories, contain SOME macro nutrition, protein and fats for example, which will seem to fill you up much more than the quick grabs and snacks on the go.

Now your cravings have subsided, you have a full belly, for now.

Whether it’s salt, butter, spice, oil or sugar, flavour, taste aside, anything that you cannot possibly emulate in your own kitchen or have readily available is no real issue.

So what happens when you combine fats, sugar, carbs, put it into a pot and in your tea cupboard. NUTELLA. It’s all of the things you crave, with no expense, no preparation, no plates to put out, dishwashers to empty. Fool you fool me, if I was to put Nutella in my breakfast often enough, I personally don’t think i’d be able to stomach plain oats without it? It’s the same with cheese, anything sweet, pleasant or even remotely more-ish, it’s hard to close the flood gates on something that’s going to make us feel better for a period of time. With all the subliminal messaging, marketing and offers that play on our hunger,  it’s not like we need much more persuasion as it is. Anything you know you’ll MOST LIKELY eat if it’s there, don’t buy it, then you won’t be tempted.

TIME.

We will happily save ourselves a meal or two in weary anticipation of a meal out, wait thirty minutes once we’re actually sat down, and yet can’t wait a second longer than two stood watching through the window of a microwave.

If you spent an evening shadowing any decent chef, you’ll soon learn that timing determines quality. If something is too hot, it burns, too cold, undercooked. It doesn’t take much of an eye to distinguish between someone who regularly cooks and eats their own food and someone that will happily stand in a queue for the same amount of time. How long can deny your body of what it needs, wait to be served your daily hit of cravings, only to be unsatisfied. Cravings manifest themselves in thoughts, but they are still ultimately choices, whether you choose to ignore them and suffer or abide by their dictation, this will ultimately determine whether you remain hungry, adequately satisfied or painfully full to the brim.

Look out for my next blog ‘NEED > GREED’

Jake.