Sacrifice, Structure & Setting up for Success in 2017

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

January is always a perfect time to consider change. Now –clean slate in hand– finding ourselves much more open-minded to the passing opportunity of general self-improvement, we can once again acknowledge both just how quickly a year can pass and how little we have to show for choices productive or otherwise in retrospect. It’s not until we are faced by a tangible indication; +10 lbs on the scale; -£10 on a bank statement, do we then wonder where things went downhill and reassess the collective contribution to such a point in time rather than just one big lapse of judgement. The first ‘S’ in setting up for success would be the realisation of what aspects of your ‘downtime’ can be considered absolutely necessary in order to plough through monotony. The potential ‘Sacrifice’ should concern that which may be reassessed as excessive, weighing no positive bearing on your quality of life and quite possibly making it unnecessarily problematic. While this may sound like a contradiction in the sense of suggesting a lifestyle change, whereby an entity offering enjoyment is potentially reduced or replaced, the key lies within volume, moderation and managing future dependancy. Volume in that a particular planned amount of X or Y is adhered to more rigorously, whilst being able to justify said amounts across a specified time frame i.e hourly alcohol consumption, daily caloric goal or total weekly amount spent gambling. Moderation in that a week of excess should be followed by at least two weeks of rest –and digest– reiterating the value of enjoyment without a habitual downward spiral to ill-health. Finally, managing future dependancy; being aware of that which is conducive to become habitual, watching the football at home every other week to cut out a day of drinking, eating a piece of fruit instead of drinking a coffee, avoiding certain places or groups of people likely to corrupt your good intentions –yeah thats a hard one–<<

These cover an array of potentially addictive aspects of ones particular lifestyle; from a single habit considered immediately harmful; smoking, to that which can arguably bring both happiness and malcontent in excess, chocolate. So lets take an average day of both working and sleeping for 8 hours, the remaining 8 being the void between work and pleasure; what makes the previous and following day bearable? Is said downtime condensed into the 48 hours of the weekend? Does a 2 day binge come with the cost of another two days? Ultimately, we are told that everything is potentially harmful in some way shape or form; pollutants in the air, chemicals in our water and now light of unsavoury hormones in the milk that we pour on our Corn Flakes. One may drink whisky, eat red meat and live till the next century whilst another may exercise everyday, avoid gluten, not see their 40’s and vice versa. So where does this leave us in retrospect? Cut out the things we enjoy just to warrant a comfy bed and 4 walls of a retirement home or excessively indulge on the things we would take for granted in years to come just to say that we had ‘lived’?

SACRIFICE- to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations.

As we find ourselves in the middle of ‘Dry Jan’ –using alcohol as an example– one may attribute abstinence positively –money saved, energy and health replenished– or negatively –overwhelming boredom and the chronic ‘fear of staying in’– presenting us all with our own realisation of either an urge or now dissonance to our potential vices, one which has taken the turn of a New Year to illuminate. As we have previously mentioned the collective contribution of choices as opposed to a single lapse of judgement, it can be said that both structure and habit are genetically linked in their nature to either assist or pollute our routine. That being said, would it be better then to systematically structure inevitable vices and habits into our routine if they cannot be completely removed initially? Focusing solely on the point to which downtime becomes excessive and ‘benefit’ becomes hindrance. I myself have came to realise that as long as you can make a sufficient contribution to change and self-improvement overall, a systematic application of that which may not be considered constructive, on the odd day, wont be enough to hinder your new positive direction. An example of this could be an attempt to exercise in advance to an inevitable session, planning to be active and outdoors on a hungover day, rather than channelling the sloth.

Being aware of justifying aforementioned choices, making conscious decisions to reduce or remove excessive vices and habits completely, is something that does take time. If we look back 12 months are we sitting in the same position, with the same goals and same barriers distorting our view? In another year could we be potentially closer? Highlighting the problem and making those sacrifices which may not provide us with a somewhat immediate alleviator of stress or a proponent of enjoyment, but may collectively contribute to a better quality of life beyond situational and temporary satisfaction.



New Year’s Resolutions & Alcohol


So even though Christmas is over, for most of us it’s still that time of the year to put everything diet/health related on hold and enjoy a well-deserved break from the monotonies and stresses of life. Although January is the perfect time to right wrongs, start a fresh and strive for better, anyone in NEED of a new year to change themselves will almost certainly fail after a few months once the novelty of 2016 has worn off. For anyone wanting to cut down on addictive means such as smoking, drinking or gambling I suppose a fresh calendar could be beneficial given ones reasons to eventually stop, but when it comes to diet, I personally don’t agree with introducing a completely NEW approach to nutrition in the new year. With the opportunity to start a fresh from the excesses of the winter months, most with self-improvement in mind always seem to resort to extremes, mainly to see results in short periods of time. This is probably even more destructive than continuing the usual routine of doing nothing. A few weeks of suffering from a typical low carb diet or adhering to ill-advised fads will just make you go running back to the comforts that have ultimately made you unhappy about your body EVEN MORE. When the majority of people look at seemingly ‘GIFTED’ individuals -not just within the fitness industry- but in everyday life, aspects that may be habitual for some may be utterly ludicrous to another, keeping to your capacity in terms of the things you eat or the way you train is much smarter than going off and trying to be a hero. The reason that the guy next to you is lifting three times as much, and isn’t sweating like a pig is most likely due to the fact that he’s not given up at the first hurdle and has persevered despite the possibility of failing. In this game, time is your friend, to make mistakes, to recognise, to learn and to improve, like playing a buzz wire. In terms of diet, I’d suggest seeking advise from a reliable PT or a specialist that can tell you what foods to eat, and can continue to eat throughout the year, not just restricting your eating habits when results are needed -a holiday, important event etc.

While its good to find the time to exercise and feel good about yourself, recognise that getting an extra plate out on bench press won’t pay your bills and will most certainly not make you anymore friends, by all means make time, but don’t make it your top priority. To anyone planning on renewing their gym membership or even joining for the first time, I salute you, but don’t shy away and reduce yourself to half an hour of half-ass cardio and consider it “TRYING” Start by building a solid foundation that will most likely consist of slow progress, observe the basics or even ask someone willing to help before getting injured because of your ego. By willing, and no matter what gym you go to, whether its a leisure centre or Gold’s, I mean that there’ll always be someone happy to practise their knowledge of training/diet with you, everyone starts somewhere. This of course means that you will have to LISTEN intently, not nodding to your new Dre Beats that your eager-for-you to-lose-weight-girlfriend got you for Christmas , if you assert yourself as being a “know it all” chances are you’ll get left to your own devices and join the infamous bad habits club that the guys eager to learn are eager to laugh at.

With regards to alcohol, I’d love to say the usual ‘its fine in moderation’ and yes, to a degree I do think the odd drink every now and then won’t harm your progress that much. However, think about your eating habits and the little energy you have on the days that follow a big binge, for anyone that tells you that they crave chicken & rice when hungover should certainly not be a friend. Ultimately, alcohol is deemed a poison by our bodies, and just like a previous article where I mentioned the impact high amounts of fructose has on the liver, you don’t need a degree in a biology to know what long term damage drinking can have. Especially for anyone wanting to lose weight, at seven calories per gram of alcohol -without all the additional sugary mixers-  the fact that alcohol temporarily shuts down the body’s ability to burn fat whilst the liver processes it, in hindsight what would the damage be when drinking say, three or four times a week? Not to get into the technicalities of how long ‘X’ amount of units will take to be fully metabolised but for a lot of people alcohol is never fully processed, and so the ability to burn fat and lose weight will almost certainly be in jeopardy. I’m not talking about alcoholics now, because that is a different matter regarding addiction, but even for someone that’s active, eats reasonably clean but binges to excess on the weekend, chances are all the efforts to looking and feeling better will literally be in vain. I’m saying this cocooned in my bed after a heavy NYE and to be quite honest I feel like a slug thats been dipped in salt, nevertheless I, like many others,  am partial to a good night out, and always will be regardless of how strict my diet/training regime will become.

Now I’m not saying its one or the other, unless you’re planning on being at the level where by drinking you would be directly restricting your capacity to perform and putting yourself at a disadvantage. Being aware of the amounts to which you drink -whether you’re counting calories or not- could highlight where you’re going wrong. Now I try to stick to spirits simply because the effects are more immediate, the percentage per volume or ‘ABV’ is much higher than that of beer and cider and unless I really go -dont wanna say HAM but HAM- I very rarely get bad hangovers that are going to interfere with the following day. In terms of training after a night of drinking I  would suggest trying to sweat it off with cardio BEFORE going near any anaerobic exercises, not only will you not have sufficient energy to do train as hard as you usually do, lifting weights whilst still under the influence could be potentially dangerous.

Be sure to have a look at how many calories/carbs from alcohol that you may be having on a regular basis using the chart below, it covers the majority of drinks consumed and it won’t be difficult to recognise whether the majority of your daily/weekly calories are from alcohol. This diagram was taken from an article on

All the best for 2016

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Short term satisfaction, long term misery. 

Lifestyle, Special

Taking a slightly more philosophical turn from the usual health/fitness agenda despite this being considered a health ‘issue’ to some extent. It’d be my pleasure appearing as a hypocrite to justify a life of excess for anyone in need of their own realisation.

Most of us seem to rationalise the occasional ‘blow-out’ into our ever-so vacant calendar, in the attempt to cleanse the urges and behaviours that would limit our capacity to function during that which seem to grant us fulfilment in the day to day. In theory the plan is to dose ourselves with enough endorphins to fill the void of we are now, and where we want to be. Whilst time is the entity that can either allow a idea to blossom or wither, it’s also the one thing most of us ambitious folk still can’t quite seem to fathom, conceptually not numerically. Plain and simply we are so dissatisfied with the time it will ultimately take to ‘succeed’ in whatever is it we think will provide us with absolute content, the short term ‘reward/high’ slowly registers even more gloriously than your realistically UNREALISTIC goal.

So whether poker your poison or boozing your burden, it wouldn’t take long for this ‘temporary’ substitution of your time to taint or even overshadow the goals that you’re subconsciously putting on the back-burner. Such goals referring to an ideology defining success for YOU, this isn’t monetary and will not be attained by any another currency besides hard work. I am certainly not the most ideal ambassador to the whole ‘clean’ lifestyle/fashion trend but I do make a conscious effort to satisfy long term goals slowly but surely. Besides, even though the journey to ‘success’ in whatever you aspire to become will be unsettlingly precarious, it should more importantly be enjoyed nonetheless. I personally am a firm believer in the value of adjusting your outlook toward others on their own ‘journey’ and you too may find this even more rewarding than something only you can reap the benefit from.

Calming the perceptions of those around you when you suddenly go ‘off the radar’ socially will give you a better opportunity to channel every effort necessary to create a bigger void between you and your competition whilst maintaining a sufficient support network. If ‘the lads’ have enough respect for you they’ll know when not to mither for your attendance simply out of boredom. If it just so happens that one of the more sensitive chaps in the group is having girl trouble, an emergency shindig will suffice but won’t justify a full week of binging out to the point of it damaging three.

On a serious note,  if it seems to be that such instances have become paramount in your overall ‘wellbeing’ regardless of whether they are as destructive as mentioned, just remember that all you’re doing is desensitising the component of potential success with false reward. If you believe a ‘blowout’ every so often is going to be constructive then by all means. I’m clearly a degree short of offering any credible physiological insight that you can quite easily google yourself. If it’s knowing the technicalities involved, thus altering your approach to breaks in your routine, such may provide  you with a big enough incentive to apply appropriately. Ultimately, if you find yourself in this vicious cycle of demotivation through false reward not only will recognising it shed light on your true aspirations that have been cast aside for short term social appeal, the sensation of achievement will return in full flux of colour over the greying sense of plateau or self-doubt.

Bodybuilding aside, it saddens me to see friends set for such great things in sport with SO MUCH MORE raw talent than the average guy busting his balls week in week out would kill -for just a fraction of, throw it all away by destructive means. I too unfortunately have the bug of being overly ambitious and feeling demotivated when I don’t quite cut somewhat unrealistic goals- whether training related or otherwise, hence using immediate means of ‘reward’ that requires minimum effort yet yielding an adequate state of contentment.

Deflecting self doubt can only develop further and even project itself onto relationships, where the outlook of ones insecurities can be just as telling to potential partners as one would view those of others. I can’t think of anything worse than those bitter- drinking bitter; ‘could’ve’, ‘would’ve’, ‘should’ve’ guys, the same flock that failed to channel their efforts sufficiently enough to achieve their potential, the instance where complacency would be the issue of fulfilling potential.

I would finally like to add that just to give you an idea how much you’ll be consciously assessing the depth of your own fulfilment, when you’re next out trying your best to convince everyone how much of a piss can you are, notice how even the extremes of  ‘pleasure’ in the form of alcohol/substances only heighten your internal desire of ultimately reaching your potential even more so. This may present you a realisation of needing an immediate lifestyle change, a strong enough one stop you demolishing a kebab whilst simultaneously chewing an ear about diet again.