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Training and Alcohol

I finished exams today!! So it seemed like an appropriate time to do a post on alcohol. Alcohol and training is a bit of a taboo topic. You’ve probably heard before that alcohol is just empty calories, which is true, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to happy hour forever. For me, alcohol was not worth the negative impact it was having on me bother physically and mentally and so I made the decision to no longer drink. My priorities were my mental and physical health. This doesn’t mean I think everyone should give up alcohol. Having a drink can be fun and sociable and if you enjoy a night out then that’s okay. It is important, however, that it is done in moderation. There are obviously lots of reasons why this is the case, but let’s talk about it in relation to training.

Alcohol doesn’t fill you up but alcohol is very calorific! Alcohol works out almost as high as fats but doesn’t offer your body the same benefits as fat does in your diet (it basically lacks nutritional value) and so just speeds up fat storage. If a drink is what you choose to use your calories/macros on, that is fine but only as a one off. Your body doesn’t need alcohol (or some cheesy chips on the way home… I am totally guilty!) but your body does need macro and micronutrients so alcohol should not act as a replacement for such things.

Beyond the calories, alcohol can have a huge impact on your training performance. Out bodies absorb alcohol really quickly but it takes a long time to metabolise, which means it will still be impacting your insides even after the big night. This means decreased strength, dehydration and you’ll probably be knackered. This really does mea you have to prioritise. If a big night out is more important that progress then that is absolutely fine and completely personal choice, but you do need to consider the fact it will have an impact and so sacrifices will have to be made somewhere.

It is also important to consider mental health when talking about alcohol consumption. For a sufferer of anxiety and low moods, alcohol just exaggerated these problems and really wasn’t worth it. Not only did this have an impact on my training but also my general mindset, which can be extremely detrimental. Of course, not everyone will suffer from these side effects from alcohol, but, if you do, there is no shame is making the decision not to drink. I have found since giving up alcohol, I have still being able to go out and have a good time without having to deal with the mental and physical aftermath the next day. Deciding not to drink and being a University student can be difficult, particularly when you have drank before as many people will not understand or support your decision, but do not feel pressured to have a drink. Think of all the money you’d save on the taxi home (not the mention the drinks!).

Training and alcohol don’t have to be worst enemies but they are also never going to be the best of friends. People train and drink alcohol, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive and you have to be realistic. If you like the odd glass of wine ever so often then that is absolutely fine. If you want to go out to a club for a friends birthday, that is also absolutely fine. Just consider your priorities and, just as with food, don’t let yourself feel guilty if you happen to make the most of happy hour.

If you’re interested in finding out more about alcohol and what you should be drinking, you can take a look at the site. Fitness on Toast also nicely breaks down the calories of some of the most popular drinks so you can take a look here if you want to plan your night in advance. 

Jamie x

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Dealing with negativity.

A few weeks ago I posted the following picture on my Instagram.

progress

I am completely unashamed of this picture and incredibly proud of my progress. Unfortunately, not everyone thought the same as I did.

The sad truth is, some people are dicks.

I decided to do a post about dealing with negativity and ways I have overcome it, when it is from other people and when it is from myself.

Dealing with negativity from others:

It can be really disheartening when you start a new project, whether that be your fitness journey or something else, and you do not get the reaction or support you expected. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be supportive of your decisions and that is more of a reflection of them than it is of you. Never be ashamed of what makes you happy and prioritising yourself.

Social media is great, but it can also be pretty scary and a platform that many people do not use in a positive way. Your social media is exactly that, it is yours and it is important that it is an authentic reflection of you and not of the people around you. Even the biggest Instagram, Vlogging and Blogging stars started off with no followers and they built it up with dedication and hard work. If other people can make it, why can’t you?

Keep at it, whatever your journey is. If people are not supporting you then you need to surround yourself with people that will. For every ‘friend’ that I have lost, I have made another that has been far more supportive of my goals, whether they can relate or not. There is a huge and incredibly welcome fitness community out there so don’t worry, you are not alone.

Dealing with negativity from yourself:

This is perhaps the harder battle. Again, whatever your journey is, everyones motivation drops ever so often. It may not be presented like that on social media, but remember that is usually life with all the bad bits filtered out. There are a few tips and tricks I have picked up along the way that have helped me to deal with my own negativity.

  1. Start a journal or something where you are tracking your progress, making realistic goals and a clear plan of how you are going to achieve them. Having something visual to help you see how far you have come on your journey is really useful in helping you get your motivation back.
  2. Focus on yourself. I know this is easier said than done, but everyone’s journey is different and people will progress at different times. I was really disheartened to start with when I was scrolling through social media and seeing people making incredible physical gains, however, they had been on their journey for far longer than I had. Try not to compare yourself to others, strive only to be better than your previous self.
  3. Get yourself a gym buddy (or someone with similar goals to you!). You can help motivate and support each other. Training with someone else is a great way to help you both achieve your goals whilst conquering negativity.
  4. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be sure to give yourself a break ever so often. There is no shame in having a rest, whether than be having a lie in or eating a slice of cake. You need to be consistent but you also need to be realistic and mental wellbeing is just as important.
  5. Talk to someone. It might not be a case of heading out training with someone, sometimes just talking to an old friend or even someone who is a part of the online fitness community is a great way to help you deal with negativity and remind yourself that you are not alone and everyone has blips.

Negativity from others can, of course, lead to negativity from yourself and if you’re really struggling, remember there is no shame in seeking professional help. There are loads of numbers you can ring for confidential advice.

So there you have it. Negativity is something everyone faces and is completely normal. What is important is that you are able to pick yourself back up from it and come back stronger than ever (metaphorically and literally…) 

A little note to those who have not been as supportive…

I will not apologise for doing something I love. I will not apologise for prioritising my physical and mental health. And I will not apologise for my body. If people have a problem with pictures like the one above, then they better be unfollowing me because, believe me, there’s going to be a lot more where that came from. 

Jamie x

Let’s ‘Twerk It Out’: Spicing Up Your Routine.

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while now, you will know that I am not the biggest fan of cardio. The weight room is where I feel most comfortable and that makes up most of my training. I have recently starting to increase my cardio (I’m now trying to do 15 minutes 4 times a week, stress on the word trying…). Anyway, recently I decided I would spice up my cardio and go to a gym class.

Now, ‘Twerk It Out’ is not the class I signed up for. The plan was to go on Tuesday evening for a nice bit of yoga. But, plans changed, and instead I found myself in the gym on Wednesday night twerking it out to a bit of Shakira, sweating to the point I looked like I’d just stepped out of the shower (not a pretty sight!). Much to my surprise, I loved the class! It was exhausting and challenging in an entirely different way to what I am used to, but trying something a bit different really helped motivate me.

I talk a lot about consistency being key, but I also think that variety is the spice of life. Since ‘twerk it out’, I’ve been experimenting with loads of different classes which have really pushed me. Classes are a really great way to try something new, meet new people and stay motivated, but spicing up your training doesn’t have to mean getting up at the crack of dawn and jumping on a spin bike. I have also been trying some new weight training exercises. My programme is still pretty simple and is great in helping my hit all the key muscle groups and build up strength but, after 5 months on the same programme, it can sometimes get a little bit tedious. So I don’t lose motivation I have been trying some new things, getting inspiration from YouTubers, fellow bloggers and my new ‘Everyday Fitness’ book.

Trying something a bit different can make the usually boring stuff (I’m looking at your cardio..) actually quite fun. 10 minutes on a cross trainer and I am ready to call it a day but a whole hour twerking it out flew by. It might be that the exercise you are doing just isn’t for you and it’s important to be realistic when training. If there is no way you’re going to spend 30 minutes on a treadmill, why not schedule in your programme a class or go swimming or brave the outdoors and go for a walk? Enjoying what you’re doing is what will keep you motivated so don’t be scared to try something new and be a beginner again. Not everything will work for everyone so spicing it up will help you find your strengths.

Over the next few weeks I will be trying out lots of new stuff and sharing videos on my Instagram to hopefully inspire you to spice up your routine. Let me know what sort of stuff you get up to when you’re looking for a bit of change. 

But, for now… back to the weights room.

Jamie x

gym

Let’s talk about… Sleep.

I’ll be honest, I don’t get a lot of sleep. This is partly because I am a night worrier but also partly because I don’t help myself. I don’t have any routine which, in my defence, is pretty difficult as a University student, and I’ll spend most of the night scrolling through Instagram and Twitter rather than giving my brain time to relax. Sleep is super important for anyone but especially when you’re training and putting your body through a lot of stress. We might see training as a stress reliever but it is also putting stress onto your body and so you need to make sure you’re giving your body plenty of time to recover. I’ve been doing a bit of research into different ways I can help myself when it comes to sleep, so I thought I would share some of my top tips that I’ll be trying out.

  1. Make sure you’re not over doing it with food just before bed. This can be tough, particularly if you’ve had a busy day (or it hits 11 and you realise you’re nowhere near your macros) but you need to try and make sure you’re not having heavy meals before you go to sleep. Our bodies are not made to eat loads and then just stop, plus, without getting all scientific, feeling full makes it difficult to get a good nights sleep.
  2. Turn off your phone!! In this day and age it’s pretty hard to just switch off. I am a sucker for flicking through my phone till all hours and expecting to turn it off and just be able to go straight to bed. You need to get in the mindset of ‘being tired’ and staring at a bright light is just tricking your brain. Plus, if you’re on your phone there will always be something you need to do, whatever it is can wait until the morning.
  3. Give yourself some relaxation time. Before bed do something to help yourself to wind down. Whether that be having a nice hot bath, meditating or colouring. Giving yourself some ‘me’ time will help you feel relax and let you switch off from the stresses of the day.
  4. Get into a routine. Another thing I am pretty bad at. You need to get yourself into healthy sleeping habits to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Realistically, this is not always possible but it can be done a lot of the time and can be really beneficial in helping you to relax.
  5. Get some fresh air. This can be tough, especially during exam season when it can be tempting to shut yourself inside all day and work. However, spending time outside can be really refreshing when you’ve been crammed inside all day. Again, avoiding getting too ‘science-y’, basically when you spend time outside your body receives more of a chemical called Melatonin that helps to regulate your sleep cycle. So grab your shoes and get outside, you’ll thank yourself for it!

So what happens if you’re sleep fine but you’re still tired? 

There are loads of different reasons you might be struggling with fatigue and if it is a persistent problem it is probably worth going to see a Doctor and get some professional help for it. There are also a few different things you can try out to help yourself a little bit. Ben Coomber did a really good series talking about different reasons why you might be struggling with fatigue that gives you loads of advice.

One tip I found really useful was making sure you’re getting the right macronutrient balance. This can take a bit of experimenting but, from experience, it has really helped deal with fatigue. Since lowering my carbohydrates and increasing my protein I have been feeling a lot less sluggish and had far more energy. It’s also important to make sure you’re getting your micronutrients in your diet as well (and that they’re off a good quality!) If you’re looking for more information make sure you watch these YouTube videos (I popped the link above!).

Let me know your top tips for sleeping or if you try any of these!

Sleep tight. 

Jamie x

BodyPower Expo 2017

Now, I’ll be honest, my BodyPower Expo 2017 experience didn’t get off to the best start. After getting there at 9 only to realise our tickets weren’t valid until 10:30, I was not optimistic. However, after a quick ticket upgrade my hopes were restored. The place was absolutely packed with some of the biggest names in fitness. I had been in a total of 20 seconds when I was offered my first protein freebie of the day, the first of many I should add (macros, what macros?).

As we were in an hour and a half earlier than the standard ticket, we made the most of it and queued at USN to meet Ryan Terry. You will notice a general theme of this blog will be queuing. (BodyPower Top Tip: Take food and water because you will be queuing for hours!). After an hour of queuing we finally met Ryan. As Ryan trains at a gym in my home town, we hit it off right away! He was such a nice guy and made time for everyone, plus we got a free shirt and packet of protein so win win! Next up was another queue for one of my favourite athletes, Nikki Blackketter. It took a good 2 hours but it was definitely worth it. One thing I will say is that you are pretty rushed when meeting the athletes (for obvious reasons) but, again, she was so friendly and down to earth. They always say you shouldn’t meet your role model, but with Nikki this is definitely not the case.

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Food time! If you’re looking for protein, you’re in the right place. I had a (very overpriced) low carb, high protein pizza and my first ever Grenade protein bar, which I would seriously recommend! I have one saved ready to melt on my oats tomorrow morning as well. After dinner I had to go and find Lauren Tickner who was with Xite. Although she was in a rush, she made time to take a picture with me and chat. She was so sweet and I got lucky because, the only time this can be said for the BodyPower experience, I didn’t have to queue. Now, Steve Cook on the other hand, that was a very different story… 4 hours later we made it to the front only to be informed they no longer had time and would have to just do quick selfies instead. Steve was not having any of this. Despite there being hundreds waiting and him being very pressured to speed it up, he made time for every single person and was such a lovely guy (he even said I should work for Gymshark… pop me a good word in would you, Steve?). 

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After meeting all the athletes we had time for, I did a little bit of shopping (it would be rude not to, right?). I treated myself to the new high waist Gymshark leggings in black marl and the long sleeved seamless black top. If you’re interested in sizings or how they look on, you can check my Instagram story here. I also finally got myself some chalk and a foam roller from Strength Shop.

In hindsight, the day was amazing. I say in hindsight because, after 4 hours of queuing in a over heated cramped space when the front of the queue is not in sight, you begin to lose hope a bit. However, I would 100% go again. Despite the queuing and despite the overpriced food, I met some of my fitness inspirations and have come away feeling even more inspired and informed.

Massive thank you BodyPower Expo 2017 and to all the athletes. I’ll see you next year! 

Jamie x