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Balancing University with Training

Now I’m back at University it can be difficult to juggle working and fitting in my training sessions, particularly in the dreaded term 3! With each session taking between 1 hour and a half and 2 hours, it can feel a bit like you’re wasting valuable revision/essay writing time but you’re not!! Exercise actually improves your productivity and gives you something different to focus on other than the text books. There are lots of ways it does this, through improving your mental health, physical health and keeping you alert. Basically, without getting too scientific (I am a history student after all!), when you exercise you are increasing blood flow to your brain, which results in you being more alert. It also gives you more energy, which I always think seems a little odd, but this will make you feel more awake and therefore you’ll be more productive. What I’m trying to say is that making sure you fit in a bit of exercise is super important, especially during the exam period. So here are my top tips for balancing University with training.

1. Set your alarm and pack your bags the night before so you have no excuse in the morning. Getting yourself up and hitting the gym early will prepare you for the day and gets your work out done and dusted so you can then focus on work. The gym is usually pretty quiet in the morning as well so it’s my favourite time to go. It can be pretty tough to motivate yourself to get out of bed but once you get into a routine your body will get used to it. If you’re really worried about missing working hours, set your alarm for a little earlier and use time when you’d usually be asleep to train.

2. Pre-Plan and make your meals. Eating well is the one thing find the hardest when I am at university, but making sure you are eating well and often is really important. Not eating or eating lots of rubbish is no good for your motivation and will leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Pre-planning is a great way to make sure you know what you’re eating and you always have the right ingredients in. If you’re counting your macros you’ll probably be used to this but it is a really helpful way to stay on track.

3. Find a work out program that works for you. You don’t need to be in the gym every single day of the week to be seeing results (plus, you should be taking rest days in between for recovery anyway). In order to be able to maintain training, it is important that it is realistic. Take a look at your timetable and revision plan and work out something that is going to be manageable and still allow you to achieve your goals. I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week but this is not necessary on all programmes so do some research and see what will work best for you. This is not just time wise but also work out what you are going to enjoy the most. If you’re not enjoying your training then you’re not going to stay motivated. This is even more important when you’re busy with University work as your work out should be something you look forward to, not dread.

4. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. When you’re training and working hard, making sure you’re getting a good nights sleep is super important for your mental and physical health. Not only will it allow you to train to your full potential, it will also mean you can get more work done. Sometimes it might mean sacrificing a night out or heading home early but it is crucial for success in both your work out and your productivity. If I have had a late night or not slept well it really shows in my work out and, if my focus is not there, it can lead to injuries.

5. Treat yourself. Make sure you’re not constantly working and not allowing yourself any breaks. University can be a really stressful time and, whilst training has helped me a lot, I know that sometimes I need a bit of a break. Give yourself some time everyday to focus on yourself. I like to take an hour before bed to wind down and do something without any pressure. If you want to treat yourself food wise, that’s fine too! You’re not going to lose all your gains if you don’t stick to your food plan exactly. Your body will thank you for it and you’ll see greater results both in your work and in your training if you allow yourself to relax.

So there you have my 5 top tips. These are all well and good but essentially is does come down to a lot of self motivation and pre planning. If you’re struggling you might want to find yourself a gym buddy who can help you when you’re feeling a bit down with it all. Being part of a fitness society as well might also be an idea as it’s a social way to train, which can mean you stay more motivated. Finally, although social media isn’t for everyone, the fitness community is super supportive and so getting involved with that is a great way to chat to people who are in a similar position to you and share tips and advice. Let me know what your top tips would be!

Jamie x

Cosmopolitan’s Self Made Summit 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, or twitter, or any form of social media really (I have been going on about it a fair bit…), you’ll know that yesterday I went to Cosmopolitan’s first ever Self Made Summit. The event was aimed at helping aspiring bloggers, business women, or anyone just looking for a change of career, find inspiration from those who have been there and done it for themselves. 6:50 this morning, I was up and on the train to London, ready for a full day of fashion, business and social media antics. The event was absolutely incredible and I left feeling completely inspired. I also left with a cracking goodie bag (check out my Instagram story today to see what stuff I got), my hair done (for free!!) and a tummy full of food and drink. Hats off to Cosmo for pulling off such a well organised and informative event. I want to use this blog post to share with you some of the lessons I took from today and a few of the highlights.

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I started off in a talk about the power of social media and how it can be used to launch a brand, whether that brand be a product or whether that brand is you. The fantastic Alice Liveing (Clean Eating Alice) and Louise Pentland (Sprinkle of Glitter) were just a few of the inspirational faces on the panel. I am a huge social media fan and so this talk was a must. The key lesson I took away from this session was authenticity.

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All the speakers agreed that there has to be a reason behind what you’re doing beyond simply making money. If used correctly, as these people have, social media is a great tool for education and a creative outlet for you to share your journey with others. Another really key lesson for me was being confident with your language on social media. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I struggle a lot with this and tend to find myself constantly looking for assurance when online. It is super important to be confident and assertive with your content. It is yours after all and you need to be authentic to you. Would Beyonce apologise for her Instagram picture? No she most certainly would not! 

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Next up was a talk about developing your blog into a brand. Once again, I listened to some incredible women who I have watched on YouTube and followed on Instagram and who have inspired my journey. A key lesson to take from this was to be yourself. The number of people on social media is mad and so, in order to make yourself stand out, it is really important your personality shines through. There is no point trying to copy someone else as that isn’t you. Success comes from individuality, dedication and, once again, authenticity.

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Finally, my last talk was giving by Stella Creasy (MP), Marcia Kilgore (Founder of Soap and Glory, Beauty Pie and FitFlop) and Louse Pentland. I took a huge amount from this that really inspired me going into the networking session. Imagine you’ve got a sky. You want to put as many stars in that sky as possible. You might not love every single star, but one day they will all come together and you’ll see the constellation. In less metaphorical language, you’re not going to love everything but everything is adding to your networking and helping to build you as a person. The good, the bad and the ugly – they all make up who you are. Another key piece of advice, and something I think is difficult when starting out, is to remember it’s not all about you. It’s about what you want to change and having an awareness of the bigger picture as well as a self awareness.

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I would like to end with a quote from my absolute favourite speaker of the day. Starting off in Hooters, Katharine Ryan has taken to British comedy world by absolute storm. Her talk was honest and inspirational and really made me consider my priorities and outlook (Cringe but true). She reminded us that, it’s okay to be vulnerable and still be a #GIRLBOSS (a book I read on the train back and absolutely adored!!). A final word I think we can all benefit from, whatever out journey, and certainly something I will take with me into the gym, my work and this blog – ‘never expect to be good at something right away.’ 

Jamie x

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Let’s talk about cardio…

It’s really no secret that I hate cardio. I try and do a tiny bit (and I really do mean a tiny bit!) just to work on my fitness. When I first started weight training, I was really scared to leave the treadmill behind and thought I was going to pile on the pounds. As I said in my last post, this is definitely not the case! This is not to say cardio is bad, but here are my top tips for if you’ve decided to still do cardio.

1) Don’t focus on hitting a certain amount of calories 

Slogging on the treadmill to reach a certain amount of calories can be really counter productive and it only shows a rough estimate anyway. I would recommend focusing on the intensity of your workout if you want to push yourself.

2) Do your weight training first (or do it on different days) 

I do 2 cardio sessions a week, both on upper body days and it’s always how I end my work out. If you’ve worn yourself out on the tread mill you’re not going to be achieving your full potential during weight training. It can be useful to split your days up, however, they can also be useful to do together and so I would recommend it on an upper body day.

3) Make sure you’re eating well 

You can’t do cardio on en empty stomach and trying to do so can actually lead to weight gain. Before every gym session I try to eat something light about an hour and a half to 2 hours before I start which helps me to go for longer and therefore get more from my workout.

4) Mix it up a bit 

You don’t have to be doing the same thing every single time you do cardio. Mix it up a bit and try different sorts of cardio. It’s not all about running for miles and miles, there are loads of videos that will give your some inspiration and help you spice up your cardio routine. It might make it a bit more exciting as well!

5) Make yourself a motivational soundtrack

Cardio really can be boring so listening to a motivational soundtrack really helps me out and makes me push myself a little bit further. Get yourself some tunes with a good beat that make you feel like you can kick that cardio’s arse! Let me know what’s on your soundtrack.

You don’t have to be doing cardio if you don’t want to but, if you do, try out some of these tips and let me know how it goes!

Jamie x

Weight Training | Busting the myths

When I tell people I’m weight training, the first response is usually, ‘ooh, you don’t want to get bulky do you? That’s not very lady like!’ Apart from being incredibly sexist, this represents just one of the many myths surrounding weight training for women. So here are some of my personal favourites myths, and by favourites I means here are some of that wind me up the most.

1) ‘But weight training will make me bulky!’

Weight training is not going to make you bulk up. By weight training with heavy weights, your muscles will get stronger but this does not necessarily mean bigger. For starters, women’s bodies are simply not built that way. If you are training with heavy weights and eating the right kind of foods, then your muscles will become stronger, denser and more toned. You will not get ‘bulky’. 

2) Weight training will not help me lose weight

There is a common misconception that the only way to lose weight is to be doing loads and loads of cardio. Don’t get me wrong, if you enjoy cardio then go for it, but it is certainly not the only way to lose weight. In fact, weight lifting can be ever more of an more effective way of getting the weight off. Whilst strength training you are breaking your muscles down, which then rebuild themselves over the next few days requiring energy and therefore burning calories! In other words, when you’re weight training when you stop working out you don’t stop burning calories.

3) You need to eat less food if you want to lose weight

If you’re not stepping foot into a gym then, yes, you will need to change your diet to lose weight, HOWEVER, eating well is super important if you’re weight training. A great way to make sure you’re eating enough of the right foods is to track your macros. I find this really hard and have been on and off for a while now. I’m planning to pick it back up again soon and dedicated some time to food preparation. Fats are your friends, you shouldn’t be completely avoiding fats. Carbs are not the enemy. Food is good and keeps everything ticking properly.

4) Muscles can turn into fat if you start slacking

A few days off is not going to turn your muscle into fat. If you stop working out, the muscles basically just die (pretty morbid…). Of course, if you lose your muscle you won’t be losing as many calories and so there is a chance you could gain weight but this is NOT the muscle turning into fat.

5) Men and women should work out differently 

This is a load of rubbish, you can do the same weight training exercises as men. Everyone’s body is different and so, although definitely not the same in every case, when training men can often lift more weight but that does not mean women should be doing different exercises.

6) If I do the same as my friend, we will see the same results 

As I just said, every body is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Weight training is all about experimenting and working out what works best for you. It can seem a bit disheartening at the time, but you will find something that you see results with. Just keep at it and try new things.

7) You can target weight loss.

Sorry to break it to you all but you can’t target your weight loss. You can lose weight faster but doing lunges every day is not just going to mean weight comes off your bum. Make sure your training is well rounded and focuses on recruiting a lot of muscles. It is super important to give each muscle it’s time to shine.

So there you go, some weight training myths busted! A lot of these have been focused on weight loss but remember it isn’t all about losing weight, it’s also about feeling better both physically and mentally. You are not defined by a number of the scales! If you’re scared of weight training I hope this has inspired you to give it a try. Remember, lift heavy and keep pushing yourself. 

What weight training myths annoy you the most? Get in touch!

Jamie x

Conquering the Fear: My Top Tips

I knew when I decided I wanted to start weight training I was going to have to brave the ‘scary area’. Shut off behind a frosted glass wall was the dreaded ‘strength and conditioning room’. I’d peered in ever so often when doing my cardio but never braved the room myself. After Christmas, I decided it was time. My boyfriend made me my workout plan, which meant being in the scary area 4 times a week, trying things I had absolutely no clue how to do. I’ll be honest, I was really nervous about going in and trying new things. I’d got so used to doing my cardio and that being that.

‘Feel the fear, do it anyway’ , I told myself, internally cringing at my own cliché. I was definitely not going to enjoy this. I walked in and, to my surprise, I was actually alright. I didn’t know what I was doing but everyone was super friendly and encouraging and more than willing to help me out. I’ve been doing it for about 4 months now and I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve improved so much, made so many new friends and continue to learn and improve with every session. Here’s my top tips for getting started on weights and braving your ‘scary area’.

1) Watch videos before you start.

YouTube videos can be a great way to learn how to do things and helped me to feel a lot more confident when trying things for the first time. A lot of videos will also show you ways you can simplify exercises and progress at your own rate which is super important when you first start out. Don’t worry about not being the strongest in the room, just focus on yourself. No matter what weights you start on, everyone has to start somewhere.

2) If you’re still stuck, ask for help! 

Most people are more than willing to help you out (in fact, they’ll probably be quite flattered you asked!). You can also ask the people who work in the gym for a bit of advice, it is their job after all and they’d rather you be doing it properly than struggling and hurting yourself. Asking for help can be nerve racking but if you’re serious about doing it, it’s got to be done.

3) Keep pushing yourself. 

The main thing I’ve learnt since starting weight training is you have got to keep on pushing yourself. It can be tempting to stick on a weight because it’s easy but that won’t get you anywhere. Make sure you keep on pushing yourself to get the most from your weight training.

4) Don’t be scared to fail!

You don’t know if you can do something unless you give it a go. As long as you are making sure you’re safe, no one is going to think bad of you for trying something a bit different or a bit heavier and not quite getting there. You won’t be able to do everything straight away (I certainly can’t, ahem pull ups…) but you’ve got to take that first step.

5) Don’t be too hard on yourself…

It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to eat a bit of cake. It’s even okay to miss a session (I know, shocking!). It’s okay to struggle a bit, just don’t stop. When I’m having tough days I find my fellow Instagram gym buddies help me to get my motivation back. You’re not going to see progress all the time and that’s okay. Be proud of where you are at but keep going until you get to where you want to be. It can be tough but you can do it.

My last tip and something I keep in my mind throughout all my workouts, don’t stop until you’re proud. Keep going, but consistent and be kind.

Good luck – you’ll rock it!

Jamie x

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