(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

All (f)or Nothing

Lifestyle, Special

Most of our decisions take shape on the basis of extremes. Yes. No. All. Nothing. Either we want it all, or essentially not at all. Between the two bears the potential for losing out or seeming to acquire ALL for nothing, DEPENDING ON YOUR OUTLOOK. The first demanding little to no effort or sacrifice, meaning that although you failed to gain anything you can safely breakeven. The opposing side of NOTHING, All, conjuring up every ounce of effort DESPITE THE RISK of seeing nothing in return, so was it all for NOTHING? This is enough to discourage most, encourage some and pose to define a small few. The difference between TRYING and not at all is bound ultimately, by a justifying cost with benefit. This isn’t to say merely trying is enough, but it’s definitely an improvement.

TRYING isn’t filling your fridge and cupboards with foods you know you’re going to eat and just delaying time before the inevitable. Or packing your running clothes for work with the INTENTION to run, and inevitably doing more running away from the prospect. We are pretty predictable beings at best, if we see a better option than the one to hand, it won’t take much persuasion to bolt in the other direction. If you’re someone that is predictable, acknowledge the inevitability of your typical route in real time, get ahead of yourself in the queue and make for some better alternatives than those besides bottomless snacking.

Night time hunger following a substantial meal at tea time means you’ve either under-ate at some point or another that day, over-ate sugar or have overly-anticipated the eating ‘freedom’ you didn’t have at work since, no one needs to know what I actually eat. What I mean by this is again, the relationship you have with food. How often do you binge eat? Or go through these periods of starve and gorge? Look back at our eating habits thousands of years ago when we stockpiled and feasted outside of stress, fear, and prospects for Survival. Survival mode isn’t a state of hunger that you want to create when food is in such plentiful supply. Unless you had to chase a wild bore 10 miles through a ravine in order to burn off a box of crunchy nut, stick to a bowl. If serving suggestions appear more comical than informative, weigh it. Kellog’s don’t care how many 30g portions fit your breakfast bowl, they have to state this information regardless. On the flipside, by denying your body of food for a significant time you are starving it of essential nutrients and priming it for things now seen as hard to come by. We can understand how the more you eat something, the more you crave it, so why not make your body actually crave the things it needs?

Depending on your outlook, everything has a benefit. Sugar, caffeine, carbs and other energy sources benefit our system if it means we are operating well, though they often come with a limited time that eventually wears off and then, immediately sought after. Any lesser the immediacy of impending cost or consequence seems to bring only benefits in the forefront, which is why there’ll always be more gastric bands than there are gold medalists and why a lot of people give up once the novelty wears and the compliments stop. We want it all, and the extras. The sides to compliment the burger. Health, but with moderation, acknowledgement for strength and sympathy when we struggle, it sounds just like we want more of EVERYTHING for NOTHING and with no reminded consequence.

Our reluctance to lose or waste time is equally matched by our need to otherwise spend it, better yet when it concerns pleasure of gratification; earning money, spending it. The same goes for reinforcing such a system of something for nothing, there are some things in life you can hustle and acquire by means outside the rulebook, but the same cannot apply to the successful business of our bodies and mindset; Put some good stuff in, get some good stuff out. Invest in things and people that make you feel good, cut your losses with those that don’t. What’s the purpose of your business? To progress? Help others do the same? Ingest ALL of the good stuff and encourage those around you to do the same rather than shove it in their face, if you’re full this way often enough, you leave NOTHING to chance and the inevitability of gorging for the sake of it.

All or Nothing,

An approach that will serve a benefit for some, and setback others, it comes down to specificity. It’s ALL in the VERBS, EATING, WORKING, SLEEPING, DREAMING.

Being in it PROPERLY or NOT AT ALL. So what’s your trigger for such instances?What kind of relationship do you have with life’s pleasures; is it one that puts your state of WANT before the state of NEED, the WANT to feel better or the NEED to feel the BEST you possibly can at the time, aside the weight of consequence  and impending cost? 

Let’s keep this as loosely related to food as possible, despite being the simplest example to use. Picture anything you simply can’t get enough of, either you sought after it or you don’t. Think about the relationship you have with it, does it dictate most of your thoughts in its absence or is it merely a precursor for feeling better and that’s what you crave? 

We know that associations link our thoughts and influence matters from our conscious rationale to our unconscious dreams. If you think about something hard enough, or even better, try thinking about it less, you’ll be inadvertently demanding it from the universe to see more of. It’s the cruel coincidences of reality that truly test your willpower when you need it most. It only takes one time to abstain from temptation to overcome it. Every other instance after breaking a habit becomes the norm. Make your norm pride and fulfilment rather than FULL-FILLING an ever-hungry stomach with guilt.

follow my journey on Instagram

Jake 👊

 

 

Post Comp Blues

Fitness, Special

With any great high comes its latter counterpart; an extravagant meal comes the bill, any great night, a headache and every other lapse of time in between a good time is otherwise then, a bad one.

What do I eat now that I can have anything I want? How do I train consistently without a looming date for which I will be judged? The best thing I can do is just turn the competitive switch off for now; Surely I have earned a rest?

Essentially It’s this crucial point which dictates how long our low points last for, the extent of comfort required to bring things back to normal. What kind of treatments and rituals do we award and console ourselves with in our potentially depleted, tired and vulnerable states. Or boredom, It may not be either one of these, but merely comforting for the sake of comfort, the blanketing of our younger selves, tucking away our stresses and responsibilities, time for bed.

How can we truly embrace the highs when they come around, cautious of their impending price. Accepting this fact. Any experience or pursuit which requires hard work will come with the highs of achievement, recognition or fulfilment. The physical cost of achievement differs from what seems like a mere pat on the back, though not all achievements have to be concrete to be tangible. Conversely, every other tangible contribution toward the debt you run up in order to justify simply great experiences come with a double dose of the blues; the physical cost and the mental weight that bears  once it’s all over. We battle with a ‘what now’ and ‘what next’ paradigm of having nothing to look forward to or work towards, a stalemate in time which only makes us look back rather than moving forward.

I think granting the perspective of whether you live day to day, month to month or years at a time will contribute to this fact. Planning ahead for the future at things to be excited about will serve as some respite on the days that seem to hold nothing but passing time. It is easy to chase days away and fill the gaps with a good time to make it go faster, yet only seem to celebrate empty feats bereft of a purpose besides a worthy toast.

When we eat and overindulge, that impending food coma awaits. When we drink ourselves sober and no longer get the benefit, the denial for perseverance of a better night always seems to outweigh any sense or judgement entirely. I suppose with any high there’s the justification of whether it’s worth it? Sometimes a headache or hangover is not much of a price for a good time, but a precursor to a knowingly successful one.

I’ve mentioned a lot of the justifications and excuses we employ to swerve matters we’d simply rather not do, and rightly so, we’d rather do stuff we enjoy. While it’s easy to have a good time, it’s even easier to have one whilst everything else hangs in the balance, though a consolation doesn’t treat or cure anything, it merely consoles.

So where does this leave me? I’ve tried to remove my personal attachment to this matter thus far in hopes to define the contrasts that run the parallels of our daily lives. It’s difficult to ignore the urge to compete just one more time this year, trickling out those last few drops of motivation at the bottom of a glass soon to be taken away, but it’s essential to know when to call it quits.

You can chase the highs of life but what you can’t do is get time back, you only have to do something truly uncomfortable for the first time to truly bear witness to every second of time. Whether it slips away or you suck it up and make every one count. You can either suffer now and reap the benefits later or always be comfortable and dread anything outside of that blanket you confine yourself to.

Follow my journey on Instagram,

JAKEDARCYFITNESS,

Jake

The Issue with Influence

Lifestyle, Special

Think for a moment of the analogy that confines a fish to the size of the bowl it resides.  Now imagine the fish were to be a great white. How much more difficult was it to imagine the likelihood of the shark successfully sustaining in the smaller tank without eventually busting over the bowl, compared to a goldfish. Now this isn’t an attempt to define us categorically by pure aggression or passivity, but it’s easy to be confined by your environment when you fail to look beyond it.

I’ve previously mentioned the precarious, vastness of choice, in my last blog The Grass isn’t Greener, though it’s not just our decisions that are influenced by environment, but our thoughts too.  It is often difficult to acknowledge your surroundings and adapt to them whilst staying completely true to yourself. To converge and entertain the opinions of other’s when you don’t know any better. But there comes a point in time where you can either stare back blankly at the pointing finger and swim round in circles or go straight through the glass.

It is easier said than done, to be yourself, if you don’t know who that person is yet, and often people never get the chance to find out. The easiest way that you can distinguish yourself and your beliefs from others is knowing what you’re not. Throughout your social transformation you probably dipped your toe in a lot of different fish bowls, some you merge more of your body into and other’s you pull suddenly from tepid water. It is much harder as you become an adult to simply just drop opportunities and responsibilities simply because you’re not keen on them, but it will serve you a lot more time than just plodding on regardless.

So how does this relate to influence?

Where we put our time and thoughts is crucial. When we don’t influence our own decisions and let other means dictate our path, we are merely existing. Entertained by the passing tides and seeing new buildings which take shape, life seems to be quickly moving on but is it actually changing for the better?

In a world full of influencers, DON’T BE INFLUENCED, not even by ME. Nothing that you can learn overnight will grant you an even greatest capacity over time. Making your own mark and reaping what you sow will serve you better than simply having it handed to you on a plate. If you wish to change your environment for the better, or simply seek to pursue a new one, it is essential that you ascertain the vision of what this new environment should look like.  If you were to ask most people what theirs would be, it would be a warmer climate, beside the sea, with nothing much more to do besides relax. This sounds great, but more like a holiday than a more permanent position. Although the contrast to our daily working lives makes it seem all the more appealing, you’d soon be wishing for more purpose and fulfilment once you’d had enough of simply drinking cocktails and not having a care in the world.

Distinguishing influence,

Good influence

If it didn’t sound so much like the opening chapter of a self-health book, I would have gone for ‘Positive Influence’ though, forever the cynic, I equally account just as much of all this ‘quasi positivity’ amidst all the other sources of influence conflating further confusion.

These are the things that MOTIVATE for no other means beside motivation. Giving people a reason to get off their arse and do something, rather than just acknowledging in awe at what they can never attain. It’s easy to like and share, INSPO, rather than true INSPIRATION, igniting a new belief rather than copying or emulating something that’s already been done, Plato. Rather than categorising this unattainable standard that people are either chasing or defying out of spite, whether we like it or not, standards keep us competitive, and though we may no longer live in caves or mud huts, hotels or mansions, being all too often content makes our imprinted purpose of life merely an unbecoming spectacle to our survival.

Whether the reminder of this fact is a gentle or obvious one, either way we GROW into our ENVIRONMENT. It may not always be easy to change our environment or influence it to the degree that we would like, though it may be worth noting that this may be a stunting condition to the ultimate success or growth of your potential.

Bad influence

Anyone or any thing that makes you feel unworthy or insignificant simply because they have something you don’t. For a lot of people scrolling through Instagram this will be the feeling they endure most of the time. Unless there’s something you desperately want to change or improve about yourself, don’t be quantify what you have on what you haven’t, rather what you are and are not. Things can be improved or replaced, upgraded or downsized, but they surely will not effect the moving parts underneath.

If all of what you see is fitness, travel, food or lifestyle’s of those seemingly better than your own, ask yourself whether it is motivating you to do better or making you feel more disgruntled with your current situation. It’s no one else’s responsibility but your own.

For me I used to have a disposition with social media in that things aren’t always what they seem; falsely advertised sugar coated, but all comes to light in reality anyway. You cannot hide behind a good lense or editing software in real life, so it’s even harder to maintain than simply being yourself. If that is not enough, you either have to just work harder or get much better with a camera.

On that note, my next blog will consider one of my favourite topics,

EXPECTATION AND REALITY.

Follow my journey on jakedarcyfitness

Jake 👊

 

Eating for Convenience or Performance

Lifestyle, Special

If you were planning for a big day ahead; a schedule of important meetings, a hike, or even just a long day of festivities, they all require the energy to do so.

If you went into a meeting without a coffee, a decent breakfast or whatever else your morning ritual consists of, would you find yourself unable to function capably?

If you only packed enough food or water to last you half the journey, would you enjoy it half as much?

And finally, if you didn’t line your stomach with something solid before a heavy drink, could you make it till the evening or barely scrape through the day?

While all these instances vary in their role and function, work, pleasure, limits, none, they all share this contrast of either performing well or not at all. It goes back to what I’ve been saying about this issue with performing the BARE MINIMUM, SOMEthing better than NOthing, but it’s neither any consolation or justification of not feeling or being your best.

Unless I delay my first meal of the day a little bit later, I will always eat breakfast, I used to have a love hate relationship with porridge, in that I loved feeling nicely full, but hated having to wait for it to cook, cool down and eat. This was a whole ten minutes of my day I wouldn’t get back, for the most part I would have took the extra time in bed if it didn’t mean going hungry, to now, being one of the highlights of my day. Of course this comes from being being on prep, appreciating both the food and energy a bowl of oats provides much more than the average person with even less time than I do.

Yes, protein bars, snack bars, ready made drinks and the like are better than completely nothing, but they are GARBAGE compared to real food. Look at the amount of sugar and refined components that contribute to the great long lists of ingredients on the back, your body still has to break down all the things that warrant them being able to sit on the shelf for often prolonged periods, so be mindful of a mere easy protein hit. In addition to this, Focusing solely on the protein content of foods throughout the day and rationalising them OVER carbs and fats is ridiculous, yes you do need protein especially if you are under eating or training often enough, but it shouldn’t be the determiner of all said food choices.

Taking the bare minimum approach aside from food is equally damaging, scraping away at things you’d rather not do, compromising energy away from the things you would. For what it’s worth neither are really getting the most out your potential. It is this lacklustre for anything besides that which we enjoy ultimately down to TIME? the very thing we are all desperate to have more of? If so then, how much more of it would we have if we performed well at EVERYTHING, not just things we enjoy?

It’s easier said than done I know, laughable and shivering with optimism I am at the thought of consummating just as much enthusiasm washing the pots as I do when I exercise, though there would’ve been times where even Matilda would’ve wished she had a dishwasher.

This again comes down to putting the right fuel in, forget food for the moment, simply combust the conviction to rationalises the mundanity of tasks, accepting them, as opposed to questioning why you’re wasting time at all.

Now that that’s out the way,

COOK YOUR OWN FOOD.

Hopefully I’ve not just lost half my readership.

If you’re still here it shows that you’re getting the point. The process before and after cooking is one that’s bittersweet, especially when dieting, the smell making you hungry, having to clean up when you’d rather be resting. Although, there’s definitely worse things you could be doing. It’s a pretty minor undertaking in the vastness of things certainly more difficult and painful, it all comes down to weighing things up solely on cost:benefit, the cost being an hour or your day vs the day being undernourished.

You decide which you’d rather have in the meantime,

Follow my journey on Instagram, jakedarcyfitness

Jake 💪

Should I Compete Again?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

So after a few well deserved days off from plan, I’m ready to do it all over, again. It was really nice to sit down and eat with all my family and friends rather than savouring every mouthful alone and thinking what’s on the menu ten minutes later. I’m saying that as though it bothers me, of course, I’d take a meal out over cold prepped food any day of the week, but the reality is, hunger on prep is something you have to embrace, it epitomises the competitive edge in every sense of the word.

Nothing tastes as good as Sunday felt, not just being on stage and relishing months of hard work but feeling sheer content, even now, a few lbs heavier already. While I massively enjoyed having the freedom to eat whatever I wanted, literally a kid in a sweet shop, I was ready to get back into routine the minute I realised that overindulging was far from conducive even in the short term. Freedom of choice as I’ve previously mentioned is a precarious thing, it can be the difference between bitter and sweet, first and last, winning and losing. This is the best shape I’ve ever been in, would do it all over again in a heartbeat, and we’re not even done yet. I don’t think could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done anything, maybe a slightly less relaxed off season of Dominoes next time round, but it only taught me how you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

I look back at some of the photo’s now from the weekend and laugh at myself just how relaxed I was, how I could’ve been so much better and worked harder on stage, but equally relieved that I could do it all with a smile on my face. I made rookie mistakes, and going into it with no expectations of the whole experience in general, I was humbled to say the least. Some of my stronger shots may look like I had the edge over a few other guys in the lineup, and in my honest opinion I’d probably put myself 4th not 6th, but again, what good is complaining and justifying the fact that MY best on the day wasn’t good enough. If I was to win, knowing that I didn’t bring my BEST, what purpose would that serve me? If I was to leave disgruntled at the outcome, not taking something concrete home to justify all my hard work, this process would’ve taught me nothing but a false sense of entitlement.

I think the take away point from the outcome is being granted with the experience to know exactly what I need to work on and what I would do differently next time. I enjoyed every moment being on stage, knowing that every other guy before me and the next had equally sacrificed by some measure, despite being my competition. It would be nice to turn up, wipe the floor with everyone and get a standing ovation, but weighing up the competition it soon became apparent that the prospects of this were unlikely. It was up until that point that I no longer had anything to lose, and everything to gain. I’ve made it this far without the need for a confidence boost or sung praises, merely customary in consolation, I’d take some empathy over loose compliments any day of the week.

When you have to be adamant to say no to people that try to corrupt and question your decision making to do something that they simply can’t or won’t do, out of choice, it’s often difficult to remember that it is equally their choice too.

And then you’ve got ‘The Neigh-sayers’ Of course I recently watched Pumping Iron.

‘But there’s more to life than starving yourself’

‘One drinks not gonna harm you is it?’

‘That’s not much food’

‘You’ve got to let your hair down, SOMETIMES’

I’ve heard it all, some people surprisingly more persistent to get a reaction than other’s, now I merely find it entertaining at what people come out with.

While we can all judge each other’s eating habits and question what is truly healthier, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks as long as you can justify it to yourself. What if every expense of effort in life could be weighed up instantaneously with the sole benefit that it bears, sooner or later you’d drop everything that didn’t serve you a purpose.

Cardio is the perfect example. Now that it has a place in my routine, and the rewards for my effort can be seen much faster than before, I can no longer justify the extra hour in bed. It would be so much easier to stay in bed and make up for it later on somewhere, but for the sole premise on the benefit and purpose it has, I would be doing myself a disservice if I decided to swerve it. I’ve never been an early bird, If I ever met Mark Wahlberg I’d be the first person to tell him to have a lie in don’t worry. If you could categorise someone that equally resented having to get out of bed, relenting only at the prospect of getting back in, this was me.

Sleep was something I couldn’t live without whilst equally denying myself of it. Rather than getting up and training before work I would finish late and insist on going to the gym regardless of the time. While it almost empowered me knowing that people were settling down for the night and I was training, I justified taking stimulants and pre-workout to rule out any lethargy I’d accrued from a full day of working on someone else’s time. Little did I know how much damage I was doing to myself, sleep deprived and never fully recovered into the next session.

If you want it hard enough, you’ll make it work. I quit my job in retail to become a PT, knowing that it would be hard to sustain through seasonal periods, relying on the wavering whims of willpower that contrast my own. All it takes is a big enough WHY, and there’s your answer every time you’re faced with a question. If you don’t have a justifiable purpose when you it gets hard you’ll clutch at straws and be more likely to crack before you’ve even started. It is by this measure that the purpose of failing or slipping at the first hurdle may save you a lot of time and effort once you’re honest with yourself and just give up. The smaller pursuits may seem tedious and trivial in the vastness of the larger feats, but it’s those bite your tongue and move on moments which satisfy the grandeur of the real journey.

To me, there’s no greater lesson than being humbled, the gift of perspective.

Having a good time is easy, anyone that knows me well knows that I don’t struggle to do so. You’ll never struggle to find an excuse to drink or enjoy a nice meal in company. What you’ll struggle to get back is time, time spent enjoying yourself or time working on what you want most in life. Are you celebrating your life as it is now or do you need to earn it just a bit more to justify the effort you put in?

As for competing for those of you that are interested, my next show is on the 6th October. Thanks for everyone that came to the last one, it made the whole thing worthwhile. As for the next few weeks I’m just going to enjoy the process yet again and see how much further I can push myself before working back up to a more sustainable weight.

Follow the rest of my fitness journey on Instagram @jakedarcyfitness

Jake 💪

 

 

 

 

Staying relevant or not at all

Fitness

If you ask anyone with a significant following on Instagram what would be the best piece of advice they could give you to grow your social media , it’s always going to be post MORE. I tell myself the exact same thing, and as a PT, social media is essentially the activity of your business nowadays, whereby you can prove that you’re in the gym working with your clients. I’ve not posted a workout video for 2 months and I’ve probably made more progress in that time than I have in months on end swapping and changing exercises . So why is that? Obviously my diet is tighter, I’m doing more cardio, but I have a structure, rather than thinking what’s best to record.

 

When you’re new to this game, you want to put as much content out as possible and market your services in a way that ascertains your target audience, the premise being potential clients. The reality is, most of your clients won’t come from Instagram and will certainly not be the ideal typecast that you can transform in a few weeks as you may be able to yourself. People’s metabolism, attitude, work schedule, eating habits, relationship with food, relationship with themselves and others are way beyond a training and diet plan. My best piece of advice would be to stop focusing on the sheer expanse of what you are newly-able to do and decide what you think is important to post. People are going to have similar body types, you’re going to use a lot of the same exercises, but no one person will ever be the same as another. If anything you’ll learn more from your clients about more creative ways to get them in shape and think differently about food rather than simply telling them what you/to do.

 

Having a solid structure in place is essential if you want to progress, which also means not being deterred by what everyone else is doing, OWN what you do rather than taking snippets from everyone else. There’s only so many times you can watch a video of someone doing a lat pulldown or a bicep curl before it just gets tedious, the same goes for diet, content is content, people will post be something new every day anyway. The same goes for your food, the grass will always seem greener when you’re eating the same foods week to week, what everyone else is eating may look more appealing, but yours should stay the same most of the time if you’re looking to make changes nonetheless. So what has structure got to do with staying relevant? Well for me, I’ve realised that I simply work better not trying to juggle both.

 

Ultimately, I post what I DO, not what I think people will like or find easier to relate to, the reality of it is, it’s not anything new. If someone asks me how I train my back, it’s a simple answer, while I get the impression of doubt like I’m holding onto a secret that doesn’t exist. Surely it can’t be that simple or there must be a certain rep-range that offers the most results. The answer is quality over quantity, forget the time frame if this is something that will put more pressure on your progress, it’s only once you determine the best method can you then actually try it. If the method constantly changes it just creates more confusion and makes you more susceptible to stumble across a ‘better’ or more responsive exercise or program.

 

Staying relevant is essential. If you want to grow your following, people basically want to know what you’re doing, where you’re going and where you’ve been. This might be nothing, everywhere and quite frankly nowhere, but this does not hold any restraint on your knowledge until proven otherwise. Unless you’re in unquestionable shape, people want to test your knowledge in the flesh, and quite rightly so, if they haven’t worked long enough to see results yet, the only means of valuing their investment is seeing what you know. As a paying customer this is their right, but this does not mean wavering between the means of your plan and what they’d rather do, because most of the time, it’s less.

 

We’re equally poised as we are garish beings, we pin every destination anticipate each milestone which sets us to the next, capturing the moments and excitements that never seem to last as long as every other normal time we endure, mundane. People don’t want to do the same exercises week in week out, they want the fun, different ones which they don’t find mundane. Ascertain the balance and value of excitement aside from the mundane, the benefits of simplicity as opposed to over-complicating an already over-complicated process, the basics are key, but they have to be progressed sooner or later.

 

So what if you do the same things every day? Does anyone else need to see that? Stay relevant or not at all. Prepping for this competition has made me realise just how much faster time flies when you have a set routine. I’m thinking this time last week I had this meal, I did this many reps and the next thing I know, another week rolls into one. Not having a routine is like constantly moving the goal posts, trying to do the same amount of work or even better with more food so you’d think more energy, but each means for one thing has a place for another. Don’t just follow the eating habits of everyone else with a bit of muscle to them or a significant following, what works for them may not work the same for you.

 

On that note, I’m about to dust the cobwebs off my camera and see whether it still works.

 

Thanks for all your support in the run up to this prep,

 

Jake

Dedication and Moderation

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

Things that are difficult usually require some level of dedication. For those of you that have a life plan, aspirations for the future or simply own a list of things you’re in the process of ticking off, the first few goals you make are usually the easiest. Going back to getting comfortable being uncomfortable, your goals should be just the same, don’t stick to the easy stuff because it makes you feel good, spend time doing the things you know you need to work on or you probably never will. While daily feats are important for improving your confidence and providing you with enough momentum to make them habitual, satisfying the higher demand rather than the fine print will pose to surpass the sticking points or plateaus.

We know that body image standards have considerably increased and people are now looking at themselves in the mirror with more insecurities and less confidence with their bodies, it seems to be that inadequacy fuels more workouts than dedication ever will. The guilt tripping to get you there, phantom injuries to talk you out of it and justifiers rather than the means to stick to anything at all. Whether it’s an individual part to play or the current meet yourself half way outlook on all things body positivity, it is this over acceptance of bad habits which has made for moderation being yet another excuse to add to the list.

We observe influencers and the like set the standard for optimal living; look good, lead a ‘balanced’ lifestyle and let your hair down once in a while. This is great FOR THEM, and the premise is usually as resonant as it is applicable to the masses, but there lies the problem, satisfying an impressionable norm with relatable words and not the actions required. How many fitness personalities do you think break their diets, front their impeccable dedication and make you feel bad about yours? In the same regard how many portray an image which satisfies the norm of their followers before their own health and pressures to maintain an image for the sake of getting paid, in compliments or otherwise.

Expectation and reality,

I personally adopted the ‘flexible lifestyle’ for a long time. I advertised that this was my reality, proudly, so that I could encourage others to do the same. Calories in, calories out, work hard play hard. Always letting myself and others justify that I can always make up for it tomorrow, one drink, one bad meal CANT be THAT bad for you. I enjoyed having balance; hard work during the week, not necessarily a blowout when things came around but certainly not things conducive to my dedication in the gym. I wanted everyone else to feel how I felt, content, that I could do both, but in my head ultimately I was neither out of shape nor in, to others maybe but not what I wanted for myself. It was only until years down the line I thought ‘hang on, for someone that trains as much as I do, I don’t look much different’ I frequently received compliments for being in shape although this didn’t do me any favours, confirming that what I was doing was working but not to the rate which I anticipated years before. I was probably known for being ‘that guy’ in college, like many others that was always eating chicken, drinking protein shakes and lifting weights any chance I could. I didn’t do it for any other reason besides betterment of myself and the fact that I enjoyed the feeling of improving my body with hard work.

While I wanted other people to share the same outlook, get results and be more confident with themselves, genetically it was probably easier for ME to stay relatively lean most of the time, than it was for others around me. To which nothing less than preaching what I thought would be useful knowledge to everyone else wanting to look like me in the same time would come to fall on deaf ears. While I protested that the right amount of commitment would bring results, I observed the void that I had created by spending much more time on my body than most people were prepared to do. I’d much rather be straight up with people, rather than try and convince people that they could look like me if they simply followed my program, like many other’s do.

The reality is, it takes determination to pursue the difficult, no measure of moderation or guilt free cheat meals, low calorie ice cream or quick fix methods will get you there any easier, which is a tough pill that most people cannot swallow.

Looking at the time frame, I wonder what I would look like if I was completely dedicated to what I was doing THEN rather than picking and choosing when to be, now that I cannot hide away from the impending scrutiny and judgement to which I put myself under. Now that there is no room for moderation, I fully understand how much easier it is to be dedicated, with nothing influencing or tempting me in the slightest. I may often joke about the kind of foods that I will eventually break my diet with but its simply decided by yes or no, rather than maybe a little bit. This all or nothing approach is what a lot of people would benefit from and NEED in order to see just how good or conversely otherwise their willpower truly is.

Expectations are broken when you post a good physique update and get ‘caught’ in the queue at five guys. Cheat meal or not, the illusive veil of expectation and hypocrisy will be lifted eventually, usually for the sake of self indulgence. There comes a point in time to which you have to decide whether you’re in or you’re out, committed or not, as your body and your attitude will reflect this in the long run. This is what moderation does, gives you a false sense of security, the best of both worlds, great at the time but not when it is at the expense of your effort. Why is it that generally most of us can only relate to those that preach BALANCE and not so much those that seem so far beyond our capabilities that we just sit back and observe in awe. Even someone with an infallible image has to have a break sometimes  If you are overweight, exercise more, if you want to put on weight, eat more. Don’t be fooled by someone that merely looks better for advise, they can help themselves but may not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Pipe dreams and more appealing offers which make for less work in less time, maybe they can do it, but to you it merely justifies doing less rather than more.

Dedication is something you can’t turn off and on. We all need justification or at least some bearing on the decisions we make and the people we make them with, but what if balance was the very thing that jeopardises your dedication further? Everything in moderation is great for the average person, while too much of one thing isn’t always ideal. How average is tolerable to you? If someone referred to you as average would you be happy about it or have something to say? In that same regard much moderation or AVERAGE EFFORT is ok as opposed to how dedicated you have to be to actually see things through? There’s no optimal figure or sweet spot which determines whether you’re goals are dedicated or flexible, training 7 days a week isn’t necessarily better than 5. Only you can truly know how much is best for you and whether you’re consistently missing the mark without acknowledgement.

For those of you that aren’t aware, the date for my competition has been moved forward a week, which means I have 6 weeks to go until I get on stage for the first time as a Novice. This isn’t ideal news considering I still have at lot of work to do, though there’s a silver lining to everything life throws at you, you cannot control many things in life, only your temperament under pressure and the way you carry yourself on through. Ultimately my goal is to get in the best shape I have ever been in, get on stage and do it all with a smile on my face. No one does this shit if they don’t enjoy it, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of my journey on Instagram.

Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

What is Your Downfall?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

So overthinking is possibly my downfall, in that most things tend to be black and white and not a trick question or conspiracy awaiting to surface. It’s great to question things, and so you should, but when previous intrigue is to be followed by doubt or cynicism, it can be tricky.

So what is your downfall?

Does merely acknowledging your bad traits overcome them? When we act irrationally or say things we do not mean can we use anger to justify what we say or is the anger merely a bi-product of the truth? Not thinking versus thinking of every little thing we are not supposed to after a day of preoccupied avoidance? Is the physical act of tossing and turning a conflict of these ideals, whereby sleep is only a temporary resolution, what you wish to say or do, and what you will?

procrastination? irritability? stress?

I wouldn’t consider myself a major procrastinator, though I do often find better things to do, simply, if I would absolutely rather not do the task at hand, it’s all about choice. For me this was once cardio, in that I’d always rather choose weight training over cardio, only to find that they now have equal bearing on the bigger picture of my goal. How did this switch take place? For me if you equally dread something and love the other, there’s always something you’d rather be doing than the things you NEED to do. The grass is definitely not greener, everything has a place and function.

As someone and like many others that study subjects which require 100% attention and more importantly retention of the information to which they ingest, I would say an easy test for this would be see how long you can read a book for which you don’t find interesting in the slightest. This does not mean you should always persevere through a boring read, but rather ascertain what you are wishing to find or learn. Are we inclined to watch comedy when we are sad, or heartbreak when we are in love, entertainment is equally as cathartic as it is merely that, entertaining time. How many books have you ever picked up and not finished, or depend on other people’s motivations to get to the last line rather than mustering your own. Are we so idle in the familiarity and convenience of blurbs, reviews, and recommendations that we are divulging our tastes and merely eating the ingredients from a recipe rather than cooking up a meal.

Procrastinating, every other thought or idea than the one you need, the only one you know to be true. A hundred IF’s and a thousand NO’s. Back to the drawing board or somewhere familiar. Familiarity and the known as opposed to unknown are that of which I mentioned in Comfort and Discomfort, a beseeching reassurance of the familiar that licks our wounds and steers us away from failing again.

Alike my previous posts these themes are centred around basic human traits and not personal attributes that confine us to them. We are products of our environment, by with every means to progress, regress, follow, unfollow, love, hate, do we steer in the direction of other peoples decisions and judgements. Our cup, half full with our own problems, clinks the glasses either side, one of hope, another sorrow, spilling over the sides and diluting the other. If you need less stress and irritability in your life, don’t clink the glasses of those stressed and irritable, and if you do, at least seek to empty your own cup before pouring in everyone else’s.

Our downfalls and malapropos are so deeply weaved into our habits of life that it is difficult to see them for what they are, things to be acted upon or not, a leap of faith or static solitude. The influences and failure’s of many great life successors will all be different, but all will share that fact, that they have been influenced and equally failed at some point or another. Are you to be someone that influences other people by succeeding or learning from your failures? The latter being the point to which failing is only the beginning of influence. If we were to succeed in everything that we set out to achieve, our confidence would only be around for as long as the winning streak.

Finally, I’ve often been asking myself what is MOTIVATION? How do I motivate people to exercise, to do things because they are hard, to end what would seem like a losing streak? the answer is nothing. I can do nothing but observe the reasons for why things things can be difficult, are difficult or made more so, successfully or otherwise. As personal trainers, friends, colleagues and family, we observe, collect and give our best advice to those that may or may not need it, but if there’s always something better to do or worse to think about the grass will always be greener, or ironically, not.

 

Comfort in Discomfort

Special

‘Do people who run marathons know they don’t have to?’ This was the first thing I seen today on Facebook. I’m no marathon runner, nor do I have any incline to do so, so what are people’s drives to that which brings great discomfort?

I watched ‘Free Solo’ and ‘The Dawn Wall’ recently, a feat of which seems to bear an even larger question than the scale of the mountain, WHY? The two climbers shared a similar mindset which spanned over a decade of climbing the same wall (El Capitan, Yosemite) the premise being mastering every small detail of the climb, or DIE. How close do we need to be to death or at least the thought of it, to propel us further away from it? Do we tightly embrace the heat and warmth of security knowing that each day could be our last or a revelling assurance at what we have that others do not. How relentless do we have to be to secure that which we deem most dear? Feats and fortune, family and friends, a conflict of the comforts of consolation when we fail aside the discomfort of failure itself. Is it merely a  hunger of endorphins that add motives to pursuits far removed from the frivolity of life, or is adrenaline a drug just packaged differently, without any stigma or judgement attached. In this extreme, failure equals death, but in every other sense, the premise of failure should be acknowledged by a single stop as opposed to a destination.

We no longer live in Medieval times where building a moat around your estate sufficed against the covetous eyes of jealousy, though the security of our digital fortunes may dictate our fate. Now, in a digital age, one bad review or comment from the competition of opportunists can dictate our success or failure, making every decision one which has some level of fear attached to it, adrenaline. So am I saying that we get secretly get a kick out of being judged? Think a reserved shyness awaiting acknowledgement to the boisterous arrogance of acceptance, who benefits more from this inception of social identity?

But this is the risk that distinguishes those that laugh in the face of adversity and judgement, whether it defies your moral code or not, having your insecurities put under the microscope for all to see is not something we are prepared for. While I get that such a saturated market of girls, and guys, flexing their way to the ever fluctuating trends of the fitness industry will bring plenty of ‘fake it till you make it’s’ I massively respect anyone that puts themselves and their bodies on the line for people to judge, ‘this is me, take it or leave it’ flirting with the thought of falling to their death at one mis-step. All too often do we see the fact that people can dress themselves up with all the ingredients to fast-track their identity to acceptance, but if your dish has all the same ingredients as someone else’s, is it really your recipe?

So what can we learn from thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies that flirt with death as we spectate and wonder HOW? As Ant Middleton says, “fear is just excitement” Where does this leave everything else which is uncomfortable, who and what is to greeted as a friend, or a comforting foe that secretly enjoys your discomfort? Get comfortable being uncomfortable, acknowledge the position that you find yourself in regardless of being at the top or the bottom. Don’t go on the defensive and wait for the cunning of hungrier bellies to steal from your plate, finish everything you start and leave no scraps to feed other people’s ego’s. Embrace the thrill of the unknown rather than knowing exactly what you’re getting and no further. Being the smartest, strongest or most wealthy person in the room isn’t always a good thing. Don’t be weak, but don’t hesitate to be the weakest in a room full of stronger characters, a student, an apprentice, on areas to which are uncomfortable rather than just fashioning knowledge without conviction.

Make the steps firstly with your hands and feet, knowing that they are connected and not just autonomously leading you to your death. Think your way out of problems that arise with your physical body rather than going in ‘head first’ and overthinking every single potential outcome that CAN or COULD. No one got anywhere by having a million and one ideas in their head and no clear direction of what actually bears a solid purpose. That’s why procrastination is equally as useful in the creative process as the end goal, seeing and acknowledging the useful from the useless. Upon facing a deadline or solution to a problem we see every other alternative, not because we don’t know the right thing to do, but we undoubtedly know the worst thing to do, nothing. I COULD work but i’d rather not, we see the possibilities rather than the simplicity of the answer as if it were too clear cut to be true, ‘The Elixir of Life’ Is it A. Exercise everyday B. Smoke everyday C. Take Regular holidays D. Have a perfect diet. Well it can’t be D because there’s no such thing, i’ll take whichever pick out of A,B, or C that suits me. We talk ourselves out of discomfort and into comfort at every opportunity, how would our decisions fare without this lackadaisical charge which only confines us to our previous choices.

Jake.