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 💪

 

 

 

 

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

Should I Train Core?

Fitness

Leading on from ‘Should I Train Abs?’ I’d like to start by noting that training of both the core and abdominals does not have to take precedence over other areas of the body.  Although it is an area that tends to add more load onto certain muscles unnecessarily if they happen to be weaker. From your vital organs working your way out, to the hair on your skin, imagine the importance of each layer and process functioning autonomously, How much does it differ as you edge closer to the surface of things we control? Do prolonged periods of sitting lead to lower back pain?

So what are the Core Muscles again?

Deep rooted core muscles pertaining postural balance and healthy movement. 

Key phrase here being the latter, we all experience pain and discomfort as some point or another, shrugging off injuries nonchalantly, taking a tablet over a trip to the doctors, self diagnosis, insisting on pushing through, and if only your CORE could be as stubborn.

Here are my top 5 Core exercises that could be a weekly asset to your routine

You’ve guessed correctly

1. Plank

30 seconds, 40 seconds, a minute, anything that’s with some sort of regular progression in mind. This is the same for the sides and ‘active’ plank performed on hands as opposed to elbows. Alternate hands or a shoulder tap to add instability on each side, acknowledging tasks and daily lifting of objects in different planes of motion throughout the day.

Advanced- Half Speed Plank Get-up’s 4×15

EXPERT- Body Saws

2. Bear Crawl

You’ll see these featured in any solid programme for competitive strength and conditioning, a full body movement which requires coordination and flexibility through bodyweight. In a bird/dog position, Start off by bringing your knees from the floor and just holding your weight across all four points of contact –hands, feet– taking slow steps out with each. Once you are comfortable holding both your upper and lower body in a staggered fashion progress to crawling in a straight line, alternating hands with feet, right hand left foot LHRF RHLF.

Advanced- Spiderman Crawl

EXPERT- Lizard Crawl (Pending)

3. Burpee

Jump as high as you can, hit the deck, get back up, don’t die.

Advanced- Man Makers

The same, but instead of jumping, clean and press a pair of dumbbells from the lying portion of the movement, add in a renegade row from the press-up position of the movement for extra instability and added difficulty.

EXPERT- Sledgehammer Burpees

Hit something hard, hit the deck whilst carrying the sledgehammer, alternate hands after each hit.

4. Ring Fallout

TRX is also equally as useful for this exercise. From a standing position, move your weight out in front of you, assuming a diving position, aiming to increase the distance from your hands to your feet. This can be done in reps or can be progressed further into a few second holds. Find the points to which your core shakes the most and iron them out, keep everything tight without overarching or rounding your back.

Advanced- Single Arm fallout

EXPERT- Standing Barbell Rollout

5. Farmers Walk 

Pick up something heavy, assume an upright posture walk the length of the gym, slowly, heel toe.

Advanced- Overhead Carry

EXPERT- A sustained carry of anything in excess of BODYWEIGHT(KG)

Try each of these on a day which isn’t going to impede on your workout, Farmers walks at the beginning of heavy back split may make your grip soft. Fallouts will burn out your core muscles so doing something like a squat or deadlift will be much harder to keep tight, and finally, best till last, burpees at the end as they are the hardest.

Look out for my next blog ‘Should I Compete?’