How to deal with having to take some time away from training:

Having to take time away from training is something that everyone has to face at some point, due to illness, travel or just difficult circumstances. They may be planned in advance or be completely unexpected. However in either case, if you are anything like me, having to take time away from the gym can be a difficult through to swallow.

Below are just some of my tips about how to stay positive during this period and how to make the most of this time.

REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU ARE TAKING TIME OFF. If you’re recovering from an illness or injury, trying to train can be counterproductive – you probably won’t be hitting PBs and will just be delaying your recovery.

DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR NUTRITION. Apart from my holiday, within 3 days after the op I had started tracking protein and calories again. I had a range of calories and knowing I was hitting protein helped. Keeping protein high and keeping calories at maintenance will help maintain muscle and promote a speedy recovery.

IF POSSIBLE, STAY ACTIVE. Unless you’re completely bed bound, you can probably go for a walk and even have a step goal. The fresh air will help your mood and moving will help with digestion (I need every little help I can get with my tummy 😂).

REALISE THAT YOUR MUSCLE BELLIES WILL BE A BIT SMALLER – BUT THIS WILL COME BACK QUICKLY. Did I like how I looked when I wasn’t training? No – but I definitely didn’t hate it. I did look smaller but most of it was due to muscle glycogen depletion (and the water attached), lack of inflammation in the muscles from training and just my head messing with me – very little, if any at all, of this loss in size was from muscle atrophy.

This being said, it wasn’t easy but it had to be done and I was actually shocked at how well I coped with it, in a pretty subjective and (on the most part) a non-emotional manner.

How to become motivated to make a change:

It is cold outside and just leaving the house at the moment is that little bit harder. The big jumpers are needed and at the end of the day you can just hide under them. So why bother making that little bit of effort to get up and go to the gym?

Social media and the press have put us in a position where we make millions of comparisons and judgements each day without even realising it. It shows us images on a daily basis that are often edited and completely unrealistic to reach. This itself causes a repetitive beating down of our own self-confidence and self-belief. We make comparisons to other people who are completely different to us in the first place, setting ourself with unrealistic or inaccurate goals that we will never be able to reach and when we predictably fail, it is easy to give up on it all.

This leads me to my first point – the only person that you should focus on is YOU. Be your own motivator, do not rely of other people for acceptance or reward. Intrinsic motivation (motivation from within yourself) has shown to be far more successful for long term goals than extrinsic motivation. It is also far more rewarding at the end when you hit your goals, the goals that you wanted to hit, not because someone else wanted you to. Choose a goal that is purely for your own benefit, something filled with importance and meaning.

The next motivator and one of my own biggest personal drivers, is the need to improve myself, the need to progress. There are a number of ways to improve yourself, for example you could improve adherence or accuracy to your nutrition plan week on week but for me, one of the biggest motivators is my log book. The log book is an incredible tool, a numerical and factual way to show change and improvement when used correctly. There is something so incredibly satisfying knowing that you hit a new PB, that you are getting stronger, that muscle tissue is growing. If you are not using a log book, start using one now and you will not regret it. Become your own competitor in the gym, make an enemy of your previous numbers.

This progression in itself is motivating, seeing numbers change, your body shape transform or just your attitude improve is a driver. The taste of that little bit of success is addictive, it is a feeling you want to feel more of and it can definitely help keep you turning up to the gym. If you aren’t seeing progress, you need to ask yourself why and make the necessary changes so that you do.

Something else that is addictive is that feeling you get after training, the feeling that causes you to walk out of the gym with that extra bounce in your step (maybe not if you’ve just trained legs) and your head held high. That is the adrenaline rush you experience while you train and the endorphins that run around your body. These feelings are something to think about when you’re at home, debating whether or not to make the journey to the gym. Can you be bothered? How good will you feel for going to the gym? Amazing. How good will you feel after you’ve decided you can’t be bothered to go to the gym and have sat on the sofa watching TV? “Alright”, at best, is my guess.

The only way that you stand a chance of reaching your goals is by doing something about them. It often results in having to make a sacrifice in the short term but in the long run, when you have the satisfaction of reaching them – this short term sacrifice will feel like a small price to pay.

Every time a new PB is hit, it will make you crave that feeling to hit another one. The more progression you see, the more you will prove to yourself that you CAN do it, each time building on your self-confidence and self-belief. Every new day that you experience the post-session high will make you want to feel it again…and again.

I often think that the first few sessions are the hardest but when you start seeing results, the process itself stops becoming such a task and you may just find that you actually enjoy it.

The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Dealing With Stress

Stress is everywhere and it is something that everyone has to deal with. Some stress can be avoided by reducing the stressors themselves (e.g. better organisation or preparation for a work week will help reduce the stress of running late or not having lunch made).

There is also another way to help you cope with stressors in your life and that is by promoting parasympathetic activity through doing things that intentionally relax you. These activities need to have meaning to you, allow you to become completely absorbed in them and give a feeling of freedom from fear or anxiety. This is known as flow.

What gives people this feeling can vary in each individual, many people find this through meditation but for others it may be as simple as a painting, gardening or video gaming – just to give a few examples. Everyone needs some time to purely focus on looking after themselves, find what helps you ❤️.

How your food environment at home can affect your food choices:

What you actually have in your kitchen can massively impact your food choices and habits, which can end up making a weight loss journey far harder than it needs to be. The saliency of food can make a massive difference and having your cupboards filled with highly palatable foods only increases temptation.

Let me paint you a picture…you get home from a long stressful day at work and are completely shattered. This stress can have physiological effects on your brain causing you to have impaired inhibitions, leading to rash decisions. You’re starving so you open the fridge where a pizza is staring at you and it goes straight in the oven! While you wait you grab a large bag crisps and sit on the sofa in front of the TV.

You focus on the TV and wait for the pizza, without realising you have demolished the whole bag (around 750kcals from Kettle crisps). You eat the pizza (around 1000kcals from Co-op for example) and fancy something sweet. You’re getting pretty full now so you have a couple of rows of dairy milk (240kcals for a 45g bar). You probably feel pretty rough 

Before you know it, especially for a pretty average sized woman, you’ve just consumed pretty much your entire calorie allowance for the whole day in the evening and you’re pushing yourself a long way out of your calorie deficit.

Now I’m not saying any of these foods are bad by any means but when you’re eating them because they are just convenient, rather than you truly wanting them, these rash decisions are often followed by regret and can push your calorie balance in the opposing direction to your goals.

I never restrict my clients from eating anything, however I will educate them about mindful eating and how to make conscious decisions that are in line with your goals and NOT full of regret. It is important to include things in your diet that you do enjoy in moderation. Over restriction can often lead to binging which is something that I aim to help my clients avoid at all costs.

On the other hand there are certain foods that can be thought of as binge triggers and if this is the case then it can be beneficial to have them out of the house for a while or only buy them in single servings at a time.

To learn more about how your home environment can have an effect your diet, message me for details about joining my team.

Blueberry Protein Pancakes

Delicious pancakes that are packed full of protein. Perfect for weekend breakfasts.

Ingredients (1 serving):

175g mashed banana

35g protein powder

2 medium eggs

100g Blueberries

Mix all ingredients together by hand or in a blender. Heat up a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and grease with fry light spray.

Pour 1/4 cups into the plan and cook until you see bubbles appear on the surface then flip. Cook until they are light brown on each side then remove from heat. Continue this process until you have used the whole mixture.

Meanwhile, while you are cooking the pancakes, put the blueberries in a saucepan and just about cover them with water. Bring to the boil and continue to stir occasionally so that you mash the blueberries up. Continue cooking until desired consistency. Serve over the stack of pancakes and ENJOY.