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 💪

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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 💪

 

 

 

 

Self Doubt and Self Belief

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

If you want something bad enough, no matter how long it takes, you’ll eventually get there. While it’s nice to have a goal, If you don’t question yourself regularly enough and allow yourself to be questioned you’ll never really know whether you truly want it or not. This is the dichotomy of self belief and self doubt. You have to have just enough belief in yourself to keep pushing without exceptions, whilst calling yourself out on your own BS even more so.

We hear a lot about mental health and situations which contribute to worsen peoples opinion of themselves or alternatively make them stronger. In life I feel these kinds of situations pose to define us, though as I’ve previously mentioned, I believe it is possible to change the person you may have unwittingly become. It’s safe to say I’ve had it pretty easy thus far, and like a lot of people, from school to college to university I scraped by on the bare minimum, only to look back now in retrospect at time gone by and the potentiality of being better had I applied myself more so.

I think at an earlier, impressionable time it boiled down to never being truly questioned or challenged. Some people pick up certain subjects easier than others, some have to knuckle down and spend more time going over and revising the topic from a textbook. In school especially, if you were scraping by and merely not failing, there was no real later  consequence besides ‘I could have’ or ‘I should have…’ Only to doubt the entirety of your knowledge and further interest should you take yourself off to College and University. Yet again I scraped by and left all my assignments till the last minute, stressing with minutes to go before deadlines usually at midnight. It goes without saying that fear and doubt can be huge motivators should you be struggling to find one. Without some measure of doubt, you’ll fail to enrich the capacity to believe in yourself and overcome the fear of failure. Failure is merely a bi-product of misaligned opportunities that require better timing and better execution. If anything its a trial run for perfecting something that cannot exist unless perfected. How many people try and fail, it’s only a select few that stick it out and are relentless until the job is done.

For a long while as teenagers and young adults, we are socially dependant beings, we yearn for confirmation and pleasantries on our appearance and personality to mould our identity, just as much as we are reassured and fulfilled by them. But what if everyone around didn’t share the same intrigue or the same goals, encouraged us to follow the same path as them and had enough influence on us to disregard our own path altogether. Does this conflict with who you truly are, and who you will become?

We confide in others by sharing the commonalities of our days; weather, food, small talk and mostly polite utterances. We often converge to what the other person is saying in the hopes to find a middle ground that we can both share together, but sometimes you meet people that you just cannot confide nor relate to on any level.

Depending on where you live and who you surround yourself with, this could be a lot of people that you come into contact with on a regular basis, which, slowly over time you’d start to accept and share more commonalities with, should you be forced to be around them, as opposed to disagreeing all the time. What are the chances that you will talk about work with a work colleague, outside of work, it might be the ONLY thing you have in common. It’s these commonalities which make you doubt your own thinking if it doesn’t collate with theirs. You’ll be surprised how short and awkward a conversation will be once you take agreement out of the equation. Ultimately if you please everyone before yourself, you’re putting yourself last.

So what is my point in all this?

Well, let’s say you’re already doubting yourself, it wouldn’t take much for someone to question and put more doubt in there. Alternatively if you have too high a dose of the belief without the critique, you get delusional. Think someone going on the X factor that has never been told that they can’t sing. For me this would have been me if I wouldn’t have consulted a coach or taken advise from anyone other than myself in order to convey my knowledge for the sake of my business, but realistically I’m still learning and growing every single day. I’d take being a beginner any day of the week. There’s only so many time you can get asked about what to eat and how to train and know that it’s falling on deaf ears. While I firmly believe that I can help people change their ways, if they want it for themselves, I am far from a miracle worker, I doubt a lot of the claims I see from other coaches and clients but there are plenty of options available should you be that way inclined. I know MY body, I know training and being creative with it, I couldn’t recite all the bones and muscles of the body on command, nor can I diagnose injuries, but I also know the limit to my capacity as a trainer. If you brought me in a post natal client or someone with injuries beyond my capabilities, I’d pass them on to someone that knows rather than take a stab at how to handle them.

Know and grow your capacity, if you want to learn or commit to something, don’t let anyone talk you out of it, and alternatively if you don’t, it’s your’s and only your responsibly not to succumb to influence. If you are doubtful of your potential and fear failure, it means you care about it enough to get it right.

Follow my journey on Instagram jakedarcyfitness

not quite ready for Youtube yet, but it’s coming…

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

Is Caffeine Killing Your Appetite?

Fitness, Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

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

Got an early start?

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

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

Have you had enough sleep?

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

Finally,

Is caffeine keeping you up at night?

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

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

Hope this is as informative as it is anecdotal.

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

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

 

 

 

Lifestyle Changes and ‘Bulking’

Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

Bulk smart folks,

Jake 💪

Should I be Eating More?

Lifestyle, Special

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

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

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