Mental Health and Mental Wealth

Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

New You or Just New Year?

Fitness, Lifestyle

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

Are you going to be able to STICK to it?

Are you going to be able to ENJOY it? 

If the answer to both is realistically NO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things for each day

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

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

Something green on your plate 

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

Track your BEST and WORST day of calories in Myfitnesspal

One extra glass of water 

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

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

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

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

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

Jake 

Is Caffeine Killing Your Appetite?

Fitness, Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

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

Got an early start?

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

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

Have you had enough sleep?

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

Finally,

Is caffeine keeping you up at night?

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

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

Hope this is as informative as it is anecdotal.

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

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

 

 

 

Should I Train ‘Abs’?

Fitness, Lifestyle

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

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

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

Lets start with the ABS,

Can you ‘contract’ them?

Can you target specific areas?

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

No? 

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

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

breathing IN as you would before submerging into water

bracing as you would receive a punch to the stomach.

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

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

Do you have tightness in your lower back?

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

strength to the front is strength to the back. 

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

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

Lying knee raise 45 rep total

Partial into full rollouts

4×20 rollouts from knees

The ‘rolling’ plank

3-5 minute plank all sides

Cable crunches – all sides

4×20 weighted decline crunches

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

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

 

 

The Voice and the Ego

Lifestyle

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 20.48.01After training for over a decade, one would presume that if there were a key to unlocking our genetic potential, surely, we should have found it by now?

Only in the light of our best selves can we possess the key, to which our fingers and hands bear the strength to turn the handle but the surfeits of our ego can not.

EGO by definition

‘a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.’

So if the ego is by definition our ‘esteem’ and ‘importance’ — The internal conductor which dictates the pace of our present ‘song’ — How then, is this same force silencing the rest of the show?

Ego by PSYCHOANALYSIS

the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.

In Freud terms the ‘screening’ process of our thoughts and desires, the outcome to which is determined by whichever part of our ego dominates and decides our further actions.

So if for example we act solely on the ID or ‘pleasure principle’ —unconscious urges and desires— the logical part of the ego may have to pick up the pieces left from the decisions of a somewhat erratic and impulsive accord.

How does this fare in the grand scheme of motivation and further lust for life, when our thirst is quenched, need we drink more?

We live in an age of over-choice, over-thinking and decisions that have further financial bearing on our lives, a generation of hypothetical scenarios that we watch other people play out, envying their conviction whilst defending your own. It is the grace of imagination that will come to either serve us or be our biggest downfall, silencing the ego which holds us back from the risk of failure, or leads us to it.

Ask yourselves how many times you’ve not finished a book, completed a project or silenced a part of yourself which you wished you didn’t? What is talking you out of it? Is procrastination merely a limbo state to which your primitive and logical mind contest to the extent of your decisions or are you just plain lazy? For every £1,000,000 idea that you have just before sleep, is it a resistant logic that detracts you from picking up a pen and writing it down or a deep comfort which propels you further into the pillow and into the subconscious abyss of great ideas. Such a fleeting potentiality of our future artists, writers, entrepreneurs and the like, away from the ‘danger’ of risk, and the impedance of one’s modern survival. Strip away the comforts and masquerade of life and you will find that in order to survive we must evolve beyond the wanton thirst and safety in that which we know to be true. Surpassing the treacle of time into a flow which brings us from the knelt of a stagnant pool and not the dutiful hunt which gives us true purpose.

Lifestyle Changes and ‘Bulking’

Lifestyle

‘Calories are Calories’, ‘If it fits your Macros’, ‘Get a bulk on for the boys’ these are all probably things you’ve heard before when the topic refers to a caloric surplus. This surplus is something I have previously mentioned in ‘Should I eat more?’ being that if we aren’t losing or gaining we are just maintaining a weight that has taken almost a lifetime for our bodies to adapt to. So will it take a lifetime to undo if we allow it? For each of the lifestyle factors that contribute to our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) what is the best approach to spark a positive response from our bodies, sustaining thereafter the initial month of results? Fad diets, cutting carbs out for prolonged periods and the U-Turn-like switch of habit may provide quick results but does this come without an impending need to replace one thing for another? Swapping whole foods for replacement shakes, stopping smoking and then eating twice as much or ‘fasting’ but not really putting the food back in?

Depending on the person and the immediacy of a needed lifestyle change I would say a   ‘gradual’ over the ‘cold turkey’ approach when it comes to aforementioned diet changes. This should provide more control over decision making rather than creating an erratic ‘forbidden fruit-like’ relationship which can only really end one way. I recently watched an advert for Galaxy chocolate, a versatile premise being one of living each day and savouring life’s moments, a great marketing hook for a Chocolate ‘addict’ with whom each day would literally be sweeter. So what about when other food now seems flavourless and a normal meal is always missing something afterward, could the daily ‘sweetener’ approach be a habit which creeps further into the days to which seem somewhat tasteless without.

So how does this relate to Bulking? Well as the chocolate lover justifies an even sweeter time watching a film or adding a treat to their lunch-break, the ‘bulker’ justifies ‘calories’ More calories at every opportunity; more energy, building more muscle and thus burning more fat in the long run? Even sweeter right? Well where do we draw the line for bulking and just pure greed?

Ascertain your surplus, plan out the ‘bad calories’ and work them in around exercise so that they’re being used for fuel and not for fat stores. Be clever about ‘cheat meals’ as they can impede on the rest of your diet day to day. If you eat a large pizza at 6pm filling you up to the brim whilst still having the rest of the days food to consume, this will make going back to clean calories twice as hard and bitterly resentful. Asses changes to your body composition, does your skin look more ‘watery’ and flat as opposed to tight and vascular, note how said meals and even high sugars both spike and sap energy which you’ll have to sleep off. Sleep being the key to recovery, surpassing the justification merely throwing back more convenient protein and recovery supplementation. Finally, the additional calories that are essentially going to assist in building more muscle will need to hold on and sustain on your ‘new’ frame for a sufficient time in order for it to stay when you cut. Therefore only getting the additional calories from junk food –instead of calorically dense foods– will both hinder your energy levels cutting back down and jeopardise your body composition that has only initially been leaving you more ‘full’ from the extra carb-dense treats and not from solid muscle or what you think is ‘#gainzz’

Bulk smart folks,

Jake 💪

The Curse of Information

Lifestyle, Special, Supplementation

Being well informed or standing from a position of knowledge is a circumstance to which one can do two things, offer wisdom which has a malleable relevance, or helm a single piece of advice with a resounding significance to themselves. Their truth to ‘triumph’ any such contest a falsehood, to failure. For what may have been the catalyst of an even faster time or the lunging step at the finish of a seasoned athlete, could one’s solution essentially be another’s problem? This is how I perceive the potentiality of being over-informed.

I’m not saying that there aren’t great lessons to be learned from witnessing the actions of those in positions unbeknownst to us, nor am I denying that there is true wisdom to be acknowledged from the ponderous plot of life, providing context to a later surmounting purpose. But how can we contrive a path, only we ourselves endeavour, when we are so easily seduced down another? Our reluctance to fashion the same ill-temperament as those ushering us into the betterment of their own selfishness has only concreted a judgement which confines us to the mirage of their imagination.

In simple terms, our paths are even more so unique than the crisp fingerprints paved into our skin, a clarity calloused by a wrinkling and scarring of experience. While we are the first to breathe OUR first breath, one has had their own before you and another will after, so why then, autonomous in our internal capacity to breathe, are we so quick to fashion our lives on the breath of others. If your every inhale had to be matched with someone else, how long would it take until you were out of sync? If they were stressed, how much faster would your own breathing need to be to keep up and how would that impede on your own decisions.

We all undergo our own internal processes in order to grow, the external being the physical actions alluding to our experiences. It is all too easy to bask and praise in the external greatness of those that are seemingly better off than us, while the key that they present to you may only succeed to unlock one door in your own hallway of truths. The possibilities to which may be forever unbeknownst if you let other people hide what is truly your own. Stick to what serves you and entertain only that which further impressions the shape of your path, be entertained but don’t entertain the cynicism of those that don’t know the way either.

 

Should I be Eating More?

Lifestyle, Special

If you happen to tell someone they’re eating too much, chances are, they probably are. It’s only until they can identify the amounts; portion size, calorie and macro content can they then comprehend how much they are ‘Over-fuelling’ their bodies. For the ‘Hard Gainer’ –someone with a high Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)– these same amounts are just as important, if not even more so than someone who is purely overindulging.

In order to ascertain why you are not gaining weight, first you must ask yourself ‘On a typical day, how often am I hungry?’ This is the first give away, the typical time between each ‘meal’, not a snack or a protein hit, one comprised of all three macronutrients; protein, carbs, fats. When you are hungry, your energy mostly comes from that which you have eaten previously, and so, if you’re looking to gain weight, each meal to succeed exercise MUST provide enough energy going through to the next. Feeling hungry is essentially using energy from time previous as well as NOW, if you make it so, what you currently have in your stomach is the determining factor of whether you can both recover and perform later on. Fuelling purely for performance aside, we’re not all swimming the channel, cycling the Tour de France or need 10,000 calories a day, but how often do you drive with your petrol light on? this is essentially being hungry. There’s only so far you will be able to get on less fuel, and when it comes to filling up do you only put in half a tank or the full thing? The answer will determine both how much stress you may inflict on your vehicle rationing gears, if you can comfortably make it to your destination and at what cost.

If petrol stations were not open for 24 hours and we had to ensure a full tank throughout the day who would benefit the most; the morning or evening filler? neither, and while one can simply park a car until its next use, the body continues to metabolise during sleep regardless of whether it has been filled up or not. My point being one with the intention of addressing the malpropre justification of impending excess, built up from the days of rationing nutrients to surmount an even bigger challenge of appetite, only then surmounted by an even greater height of satiety which later stands to sister the peak of nourishment that your body REQUIRES daily. If the goal is to gain, there has to be no other route than the one which sustains beyond what which could allude to be the peak, sustaining a contingency plan for another treacherous slump. The mood gauge swayed by the gravity plummeting momentum if you make it so or the catalyst to scale the next scramble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Effort:Reward

Lifestyle, Special

As we become evermore consumerist alongside our undesirable work patterns, we now find any such means of gratification to justify our effort. ‘I’m working really hard I should not be suffering on this bus just to get to work?‘*, ‘I’ve ate healthy all day surely I’m due a break?* and finally ‘I’ve worked every day for ‘x’ straight weeks now and I’ve not had time to enjoy myself‘*

*solution


* buy a nice car

*go for a nice meal

*book a holiday


These are all instant fixes that we can apply to ourselves for hard work, most of which will provide us with enough satisfaction to then carry on striving for even better or at least be able to justify our hard work when it gets tough.

When it comes to our bodies or one could say any other entity to which we give our time besides work, are we rewarded for the effort? and more importantly do we reward ourselves more than we need to? If we replaced ‘reward’ with ‘motivate’ in this context it would imply that we are in turn requiring another ‘motive’ to continue as opposed to being rewarded with ‘praise’ Are we so weak in our pursuits of better living that we need someone or something at every hurdle screaming ‘good job’ whilst everyone else running the race is already at the finish watching you revel in that first set of hurdles. I have this image of training a dog, conditioning them to associate their effort with treats and then simultaneously trying to achieve the exact same goal with nothing. Are we just jumping through the hoops of our own egos or do we actually want to see ourselves succeed?

My point is one of accepting that there will be hard times that can only be pacified by an instilling drive to continue and not to regress, but more importantly acknowledging whether you are actually reaping the rewards from your efforts. If the answer is no, do not reward yourself, find the reason why you haven’t seen any progress and stick at the things that bring it. Just killing yourself without having a plan of what you want to achieve or suddenly deciding that you deserve a reward already is just blind and redundant energy wasted. By giving in and rewarding yourself for just trying you are essentially celebrating your loss, a bi-product of having ‘reward’ at every vulnerable turn. Celebrating your progress tastes so much sweeter than the taste of over-indulgence.

The ratio of effort:reward is the same as energy:results, use your energy tactfully and the results which you deserve, not that which you think you are entitled, and this will be graced to you tenfold. If there was a medal for jumping the first hurdle our necks would be too heavy to surmount the last.

Persistence & Plateaus

Lifestyle, Special

Persist- To go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning.

Being persistent is a trait that can go both ways, we can either persist at defying the resistance we receive or continue to buckle under the same pressures that keep us confined to this forbidding continuum of resistance. A norm which is one forthcoming on the now millennial immediacy of all things rewarded, not earned. With every meal we do not have to cook, pin we need no longer enter and journeys we can take as passengers rather than drivers, is this convenience in time serving us well or do we now only sought after the most convenient appropriations and pursuits?

As a race we are becoming evermore persistently lazy; effort being our biggest opposition, our bodies reflecting our importunity to the easier option, and health, inevitably, the warning. We do not attribute the physical and psychological impediments of working in fields non-conducive to our happiness, nor do we anticipate how much our mind and body has to operate synergistically alongside our Neolithic traditions. It is only until we burnout that we then have to justify the NEED for a break. So when we are working on ourselves, why then is it so easy to justify a BREAK, to lose focus, to be distracted? It seems that no matter how much down time we award ourselves, it is never enough, and so the time to which we focus on working, whether that be for someone else, drags and our own time, dwindles.

The entirely resolute and stubborn approaches to downtime occupying those that simply cannot commit or see the simplest of tasks through without giving up is impressively persistent, proof that we can be persistent, even if it is persistently quitting. So why do we quit? What distracts us? Is it the fear of failing and being judged? Or if there even is a reward, does it reflect the time spent doing it? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Technology has granted us with a facility of instant gratification, a cyclical navigation of short cuts and queue jumps to the ultimate destination of contentment. Does getting there faster only gives us more time to revel in the superficial glory of feel good chemicals? A depressing overcast brightened up by a passing sunshine of serotonin showers. Chasing this light from the now shadowy pits of only known similar feats, even more time to think of your next ‘best?’ The suckling appetite for faster turnover, more contentment and even bigger success.  The next best unhappiness or all time boredom? The next best date or the next best break-up? The need for constant entertainment and stimulus, entitlement and appreciation, self worth and in turn self pity. Plateaus.

Plateau

a region of little or no change in a graphic representation

: a relatively stable level, period, or condition
So although people consider a plateau to be a negative thing, plateauing literally means being stationary, but when you’re someone who’s always looking to improve, being stationary may as well be going backwards.
How do I pass through a plateau?
There are more potential outcomes in a game of chess than there are atoms in the universe. When two people reach a stalemate, it is a reflection of how two potentially winning outcomes impede on the other, ‘I cannot win, therefore they cannot either’
Are you playing your own game or is someone playing for you? Are you making the same moves and bringing on the same outcome? Are you playing with the intention of moving forward or are you reluctant to risk leaving what you have behind? Whatever potentially winning outcome you are seeking to follow right now, improve it until it no longer brings any benefit to you and then start again with each calculated move at a time.