(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.

 

What is Your Normal?

Mindset, Special

One man’s meat is another man’s poison

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor

One’s man’s pleasure is another’s pain

One man’s loss is another man’s profit

One man’s fault is another man’s lesson

What may be a sin to one is a blessing to another.

What is your normal?

What may be deemed as normal for some may often seem extreme to another.

Someone may warm-up with your max, take a main for a starter or habitually crack open a can on a Monday morning, but it’s still no more extreme than your extremest.

We tend to focus on the general progression of those around us for scale and perspective, weighing up the likelihood of emulating similar feats. While it is easy to get distracted by the fine details and raw ingredients that make for someone else’s success, it’s often a basis of personal traits that come to distinguish an ability to define the extreme from the necessary.

In that lies the contradiction, considering anything outside the capacity of our normal to be abnormal, whilst equally reluctant to replace our own habits with what may be required. It’s only when requirement becomes obligatory can we set old habits aside for new beginnings. Unless you live every day like its your last, are reluctant to step outside of the confines which contain your potential or simply fear disappointment, this is normal.

It is upon anticipation and the likelihood of failure that better defines possibility, enough to make what once seemed impossible less than such. Some people are just plain lazy, they wear their faults and restrictions to exercise like a badge of honour, welcoming those who refuse to follow suit with bitter applause, eager to criticise something they can’t or simply won’t do themselves.

This is THEIR normal.

Just because you can run doesn’t make you any better. It’s a redundant comparison which does nothing but put you closer into the category of quitting prematurely. Simply doing more than someone who does nothing isn’t a feat worthy of adulation, unless you couldn’t physically get on your feet before or have surpassed your own restrictions to get to this point. Don’t celebrate doing the BARE MINIMUM, EVEN IF it is more than most.

So how can we define OUR NORMAL from everyone else,

Do one thing you didn’t do yesterday. Always be thinking about the distance between yourself and your capacity over anyone else’s. Level up on the cardio, or ANYTHING that is difficult, go faster, do more calories, demand more from yourself rather than looking for ways out of it.

When you do, outwork any reward besides the reason for starting. If you do 500 calories on the stairs, and you have to think about chocolate all the way to get you through, you’re just making it harder for yourself. Later you get home and eat the equivalent amount, have you just done it all for nothing? Does the goal warrant the reward? If it does, make sure it is worth it. If it wasn’t we go back to where we started, justifying how you did so much more than you anticipated, certainly more than the BEST laziest comparison, but you’re now no much better than if you stayed home and did nothing. Rather than compare and rationalise how much LESS you COULD have done, think about how much more ground and momentum you COULD HAVE MADE for bigger goals beyond momentary pleasures.

There’ll ALWAYS be an opportunity to EAT, DRINK and INDULGE, what there won’t be is enough time or energy in-between to maintain something that demands a lot of both, aside everything else. If it’s normal for someone to eat whatever they want and seem to look the same, drink the night before and still seem to perform, let them make that their normal, whilst equally owning yours. If normal isn’t staying till the end, leave. If it means eating something you wouldn’t usually for the sake of being hungry, don’t. There’ll always be a way around everyone else’s normal.

Having goals and requirements doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence. You can always factor in more flexibility around days which require you to be more flexible, just make sure it’s that day and not the full weekend. Have a look at what you plan to eat in a few days time, earn it in advance, do the work now rather than overcompensating.

 

 

Leap of Faith

Mindset, Special

Despite the title, there’s no one defining point of physical action required to separate the person you are, from the person you could have been or will become. You can either learn from your mistakes and failures or let them cast shadows of discontent over the work you have done thus far,

Everything in life is about timing, a large clash of smaller fragments and transient moments to make for grander opportunities. It’s these moments which can either define or make you crumble underneath the pressure. One capable of exploiting your incapabilities; a stumble, a slur, a misstep, a resolution down to 100th of a second.

All of these smaller points contribute to the larger duration of a lifetime; stressors, nervous processes, erraticism which we cannot control, but can come to understand. From my understanding this is a process which forces the instinctual means of  ‘get it right or don’t try at all’, the reason why most of us do exactly that. Stress can make the action of something usually second nature seem just as alien as learning it again from scratch. Although, without it are we denied any such urgency or impending consequence for not doing, trying, leaping.

It’s usually the timing of our response to the unknown and unsettling which separates the impulsive and irrational from necessary. The cogs of clarity turning reluctantly in spite of the fire below, the transitory respite of comfort, a tactful back step to better scale the void ahead.

This would be to blank, bottle it or pass, consumed by the fear of upset, treading on eggshells or around the possibility of failure.The backstep usually being a harder decision to make, conscious of losing momentum, regressing, losing ground, pride. It’s a tough pill to swallow but a necessary step to rediscover.

By this rationale, is everything worth having so hit and miss. A game of fine margins. No such reward for mere participation. Yes, a result to which can either discourage or prepare you for a later date when it actually matters. So why do we stumble? hide beneath a passive guise? Lack of practice? Confidence? Retention of knowledge? Nerves ?

All of the above?

Sometimes it’s better to watch other people jump first and acquire a better angle to the rocks below, but aside the best, most optimal, safest or most elegant, you have to commit to it regardless. It’s easy to own your own place or role within a certain environment which demands for nothing less than hard numbers and solid facts. Either you reach the same number or one of you is wrong. Faith in your own ability to get there equally bears a doubt that the other person doesn’t, otherwise it just becomes a free for all. Don’t allow the CAN’T’S and WHAT IF’s to put fear and doubt in your head, any risk worth taking is one worth knowing.

Embrace the thoughts and affirmations as you woke, write them down, listen to them carefully. What remains to think about before you go to sleep? Has it changed or muffled by the noise of your day. This doesn’t have to resolve a budding realisation, million dollar question or subversion of the beliefs you have currently, but failing to acknowledge the questions you have in your own mind is equally denying them of the answer.

If we had someone else’s heart or organs, our bodies would quickly attempt to adapt and survive with the now dwindling resources that match our physiology. Establish control of every fibre in your body and own it before it owns you, a transitory state of settling for any less than what is BEST. Have faith in your own ability and capacity to succeed in ANYTHING worth having, anything less is not worth your sacrifice.

 

Workout Your Own Mind

Lifestyle, Mindset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workout your own Mind.

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

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

Only you decide what or why something is useful.

Research your own experience

Absorb what is useful

Reject what is useless

Add what is specifically your own.

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

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

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

Follow my journey on Instagram,

Jake 💪