Fitness, Gym, Mindset, Uncategorized

My mind is telling me no…But my body..

Today I was talking with someone close to me about the concept of clearing your mind.

It is so rare for me, that my mind is not thinking about 4 or 5 things at once. My mind races from one thought to the next, making plans, trying to work out times to do things, thinking ideas, planning meals and generally not 100% focusing on the one thing I am trying to do at that time. I have to assume I am not the only one who experiences this!

This is why I love training. 

Going to the gym and lifting is one of the few times I am not concentrating on my thoughts, I’m listening to my body. I am feeling it all. The tight feeling in my muscles, the heart pounding in my chest, the burn and fatigue. 

Don’t get me wrong, as I approach the squat rack with my bar stacked with a weight that leaves me with a lingering feeling of apprehension, my mind is inoverdrive. The moment I feel the weight bearing down on my shoulders, my mind is focused. Focused on nothing but the feeling of tension in my muscles. The alignment of my back, hips and knees. I can feel my core tighten to stabilise my body. Then the moment I finish my set, I realise for those moments my mind was clear. Uncomplicated clarity. Peace.

This feeling is so comforting to me. Don’t get me wrong it’s something I built up. Almost like meditating, the first time I tried to meditate…. I’m listening to my mind go from focusing on my breathing…to wondering if I put the laundry on! 

For me weight training is just as much about challenging your brain to pushing past what is tells you that your body is not capable of. I find that this then translates in to other areas of life.

My brain tries to tell me… “you can’t lift that!”.. I prove it wrong.

If that’s the case, I wonder what else I can do?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not capable…not even you!

Taylor @tgm_fitness_elite

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Gym, Mindset, Nutrition

The New Year Start’s Now!

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“New Year. New Me”. How often have we heard that phrase or have even said it ourselves? Then new year’s day, hung over, we plough our way through the left over Christmas cheese board and the box of Quality Street we vowed to throw out. Then we are left feeling guilty that we have “failed” on day 1! I have done this time after time. It is so easy to punish ourselves! But if that was a friend would you say the same thing to them as you have just said to yourself? Don’t set yourself up for failure, prepare yourself to succeed! Here are some of my tips for a new start!

Start now. Why start the 1st of January? A lifestyle change doesn’t have to take place on a special day, it happens on the day you are ready. I made my changes on a random Sunday in June! Don’t wait for tomorrow. Make a change today and mark that day somewhere you can see it, make it special, in a diary or calendar. That will be the day you can look back on as the day your life started to change.

Don’t give up everything in one go! So it’s the start of a new year. You have decided to give up smoking, drinking and chocolate, you’ve started a diet and you’ve joined a gym. Some people try to do too much in one go and it can be overwhelming on the body and mind! Pick 1 or 2 things to start with and add in things gradually. It can be a couple of simple changes! Cutting out the crisps at lunch and opting for a bottle of water instead of cola. Starting the gym doesn’t have to be five, hour and a half sessions a week. You could start by fitting in three 40 minute sessions a week. Don’t overdo it; don’t get me wrong work hard, but gradually build it up the frequency, intensity, duration and types of exercise you do.

Don’t beat yourself up. It can be so easy sometimes to punish and beat yourself up for eating a piece of chocolate or missing a gym session. Don’t panic! All is not lost. So what ? you had a few squares of the Galaxy bar you got for Christmas just don’t eat the entire bar. Okay so you missed the gym last night, try and find some time to fit in a session in the morning or do some training at home, walk instead of catching the bus to work. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Be conscious of what you are eating. When I say be conscious, I don’t mean self-conscious, I mean conscious and aware of what you are eating and the portion sizes of what you are eating.  A popular method and one of the most useful tools that I use to understand my portions sizes is my hand. And bear in mind this is just for guidance. I think of my meal in 4 basic areas, Protein, carbs, Veg/fruit (carbs) and fats. Then the sizes equate to areas of my hand e.g. protein should be roughly palm size, your vegetable portion should be fist size or 2 fists for something like spinach or kale. A cupped hand is the amount of complex carb (rice) and a thumb size of fat, like cheese or butter. Obviously this will vary depending on exercise goals and even your gender (e.g. men may double these portion sizes). So keep this in mind when making meals and if you have had  a carb heavy breakfast (oats) you would bear this in mind when snacking and may be chose something higher in protein for snack. It’s all about balance.

Set realistic goals and set time frames. As I have said in one of my previous blog post New Goals. New Programme “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. Set clear, realistic and measurable targets and set a time frame to achieve it. Setting “I want to be fitter” as a goal, isn’t measurable, I want to be able to run for 10 minutes without having to stop is clearer and there is a clear marker for achievement. “I want to lose weight”, do you want to lose fat? How much? Inches around your waist? Dress sizes? Make sure it is clear. Take photos, take measurements, keep track of the weights you are lifting or the times you are running etc, so you can see what you have achieved. And celebrate it.

P & P. Prep and Plan. This is key in achieving goals. Prepare your snacks and meals in advance. There are loads of ways you can do this, some people like to prepare meals in bulk and prepare 4-5 days’ worth of meals in one go, some people like to get up early and cook there meals for the day fresh that morning. Another good tip is keeping you gym gear ready to go. I keep spare gym gear in a bag on standby. I have mentioned before that finding a clean sports bra and a matching pair of socks after a long day at work can sometimes be enough to put me off going to the gym all together. It sounds dramatic but it’s true. Keep things ready to avoid hesitation when you need to get up and go. Also plan the days you are going to the gym or work out, be realistic when you can fit it in. If you want to go 3 times a week, pick 3 times you can go and book these in as solid plans. Try to think a head, obviously thing come up and sometimes you have to be flexible but see if there are any other times you can fit it in.

Be you! Every journey will be different and be proud of yours! Don’t strive to look like someone else, strive to look like you. Be proud. If you want to, strive to be a stronger you, a leaner you or whatever your goal is but importantly strive to be you. Own your goals! Stand by them and when you meet them (because you can and you will) Celebrate achievements! Big or small.

So, this New Year’s, try something new, break the mould on the traditional punishment of New Year’s resolutions. Make this Your Year! Your Year of happiness and achievement.
Don’t set yourself up for failure, prepare yourself to succeed!

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Taylor @tgmfitnesselite

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Fitness

Finding “The One” – Gym Buddy Pro’s and Con’s

How often have we heard or may be even said ourselves “I’d go to the gym if I had someone to go with”. Finding the perfect gym buddy can be just as hard as finding Mr Right! But how important is it to have a gym buddy. I have both trained solo and with regular gym buddies. So here is my list of pro’s and con’s.

Pro’s

  • Motivation. Having a gym buddy can give you the motivation you need to kick start your fitness. Finding a fitness friend can give you that added push to get your but into that aerobics class when you are just not feeling it.
  • Accountability. Your gym buddy can make you accountable. It’s harder to blow off the gym if you know your friend is there waiting for you! You won’t just be making excuses to yourself, your gym buddy will also be making you accountable for your choices.
  • Healthy competition. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Pushing each other that little bit harder each time can help you to fulfil your own potential.
  • Form. Your gym buddy can also be there to check your form. When I say form I mean the way in which you perform an exercise. This can include posture, the speed and force in which you execute the exercise, spine alignment and footing. Poor form can mean not isolating the correct muscles you want to exercise during the movement and importantly can result in injury.
  • Spotting. There is nothing fun about a dumbbell to the face or face planting the mirror falling forward when squatting. Luckily having a gym buddy there can minimise the risk of you hurting yourself or getting in to a sticky situation when you are completing difficult movements or using heavy weights.
  • Encouragement. That’s an easier one. Having your own personal cheerleader when you are working hard can push, motivate and help you keep a positive mental attitude when your energy and drive is beginning to falter.
  • Support. Gym buddies can be a great source of support in and outside of the gym. If you are having a hard time with progress, form and motivation, a gym buddy can be there to keep you going and someone to relate too and confide in.
  • Fresh ideas. For me one of the best part of having a gym buddy is having the opportunity to share new ideas with someone. From new routines, exercises and recipes to protein powders, bloggers, fitness inspiration and places to get new gym wear. Keeping it fresh can keep it fun!

But having a gym buddy can also have its downfalls.

Con’s

  • Dependency. It can become easy to grow dependant on your gym buddy. You may rely on them and not yourself for motivation. This can then potentially cause setbacks if for some reason your gym buddy can’t come to the gym. It is important to keep focused on why you want this and ensure you keep that motivation with or without your gym buddy.
  • Distraction. It can be very easy to become distracted by a gym buddy when working out. Conversation can flow and your focus can wane. Talks of the nightmare incident at work and plans for the weekend can take precedence and sometimes steer you off track.
  • Unhealthy comparisons. Sometimes it can be easy to fall into the trap of negatively comparing yourself to your gym buddy. Your gym buddy may be seeing quicker progress or may be lifting heavier than you. It can be hard to remember that everyone is different. Your gym buddy may have different nutrition, a more physically demanding job, faster metabolism, completely different body composition and structure. Competition can be helpful in training but remember this journey is about you and you only.
  • Different motivations and goals. Like I said previously, finding the perfect gym buddy is like finding Mr Right or Mrs Right! If you want completely different things it just isn’t going to work. For example if you are training to see muscle tone or increase strength and your gym buddy is training solely for marathon. Your training plan will be quite different and this can make it difficult to train together.
  • Commitment. For me this is a clincher. Do you and your gym buddy have the same levels of commitment? If you are ready to dedicate yourself and work as hard as you can, training with someone who is joining the gym for a bit of fun and for a light hobby can have a negative impact on potentially both your motivation and progress. On the flip side, if you are going to the gym for a little you time and some fun, a hard core gym buddy may be too full on and put you off training all together!

If you want to find a gym buddy, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If you find someone who shares the same interests, make it known. Pretty much all of the fitness fanatics I know love to share tips and ideas with other people and are always happy to help!

I personally like the best of both worlds. I try to switch it up. I train with my mother, with a PT, with my partner and by myself. I learn and take something away with me from all of these sessions. Inspiration, new techniques, motivation and confidence.

In the beginning I was reluctant to train by myself. I was self-conscious and wasn’t sure about what I was doing. My gym buddies helped me grow in confidence but I soon learned that I couldn’t always rely on only training when my gym buddies where available! I decided to try going by solo now and again. Going by myself made my confidence grow tenfold. I no longer cared if anyone was watching or if the girl next to me had a flatter tummy or if someone else in the gym was better than me because it didn’t matter. They may be stronger than me, more muscular or toned but no one knows the battles it takes for you to be there in the gym..apart from you.

That takes real strength.

Me

Taylor @tgmfitnesselite

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Nutrition

The “All-Inclusive” Battle

I eat very regular meals, probably about 4 smaller meals a day with snacks or a protein shake etc in between. So I would say I am pretty in tune with my nutrition. It’s taken time and trial and error to work out what my body works on best. But when we go on holiday, lets face it, temptation everywhere. That’s when the battle commenced. The battle between whether I try to eat healthy and continue my perfect healthy balance or to over indulge on the resorts all-inclusive delights.

I have recently come back from an amazing all-inclusive holiday in beautiful Egypt. I had been pretty dedicated to my meal prep leading up to the holiday so I could feel fabulous in my bikini. The first morning we came down to the main restaurant on the resort for breakfast….I knew I was in trouble! There were pancakes, pastries, sausages, cheeses there was even cakes. Seriously this resort served deserts with every meal! I let loose. Don’t get me wrong, my portion sizes weren’t too bad but the content of my first meal consisted of carb on carb! For me as I have mentioned in a previous post, my body reacts better with protein and good fats so my body was in for a shock when I had eaten pancakes, toast and a doughnut before 9am!

Needless to say by the second day I was feeling less of a bikini babe and more like a bloated beach ball! But as we have probably said to ourselves before “don’t worry your on holiday!”. What this holiday had reminded me is that it okay to have a little bit of what you fancy. In fact it’s a part of eating a balanced diet. We pretty much all know that. But it also highlighted how food can dramatically effect how you feel. I felt bloated, sluggish and my skin came out in blemishes. My body just isn’t built to work on processed sugar and tonnes of pasta.

It’s about moderation, but what is a moderate portion? I like to play by the 80/20 rule. When I say rule it’s not a “diet fad”, it’s a lifestyle. Eat good healthy nutritious food 80% of the time and eat little bit of naughtiness 20% of the time. So may be once a week I will have a meal that I wouldn’t normally eat like a couple of slices of pizza. And note I said slices and not a whole pizza. Moderation. Some people swear by the 90/10 rule but I feel unless you are training for competition etc it’s not entirely necessary as long as when you have the naughtiness, it’s not a total binge.

I’ve seen it printed on t-shirts and it’s true, You can’t outrun a bad diet! If you are eating well all week but drinking sugar filled fizzy drinks daily, then eat a couple of take-aways after a few pints at the weekend, you simply won’t wont see the same results. You are only kidding yourself. Nutrition is 80% of the battle but will not work on its own. But nutrition and exercise come hand in hand. As does exercise and mindset. They work together.

I think the thing that I struggled with most at the beginning is my relationship with food. And I do still to an extent struggle. Food is fuel….but I can’t help but love food! So my biggest worry was that eating healthy was going to be boring and lacking flavour and this would lead me to the vending machines at work seeking sugary snacks. I’m the kind of person that if I have my own way would cover everything I ate in melted cheese and crispy bacon! But nutrition doesn’t have to be boring! Seasoning, cooking food in different ways, herbs, discovering new alternatives. There are so many ways to spice up your meals so to speak.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean being hungry all the time or eating boring food. Be inquisitive, experiment, be conscious of what you’re eating. Invest in yourself and your body. Why wouldn’t you want to fuel your body and help it work to the best of its ability? It is the only one you have in this lifetime, it’s yours and you live in it. Look after your body because your body is incredible and because you deserve to feel good. Don’t settle for feeling okay. Feel great.

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Fitness, Mindset, Nutrition

Progress

Progress has always been a tricky one for me. I haven’t personally ever been much overweight, so weighing myself weekly is a little futile, as face it, we are trying to be healthier and fitter but we want to see aesthetic results too! In the first few months I saw such a dramatic difference as I lost body fat and yes there were changes on the scales. The changes from there admittedly got slower and required fine tuning of diet and changes in programmes but these are what separate you from a body you are okay with and the body you really want.

Be realistic with what you want your body to look like. This is something that took me a little longer to completely get my head around. Most of us will have someone in mind when we think of how we want our bikini bodies to look. But you will never look like them because you are you! For example I can strive for body out of a Victoria Secrets catalogue but I am an A cup! Working on my abs will not give me bigger boobs. So that will never happen! If you have curvy hips, you can tone that ass, work on those legs and abs, but your pelvis is not going to shrink. And for the fellas getting shredded isn’t going to make you taller. Be realistic! Focus on your body! It’s yours and it is incredible!

Take measurements. When you start a new programme your body will change. For example, if you start lifting weights, you are going to start shredding fat and building muscle. And ladies do not be afraid to lift weights! You will not get bulky! Muscle burns Fat! Building some muscle may mean your actual mass may not change a great deal. You may feel disheartened. Do not despair. Take measurements, as many as you can. Don’t just monitor your weight, get a tape measure out and measure as much as you can, upper arms, waist, hips and thighs and take note of your dress size!

Photos have been an essential part in the monitoring of my progress and I would say it is a must for anyone who wants to see a physical change in their body. I know it can be hard to take photos of yourself in your underwear. To see areas of your body you aren’t happy with and are insecure about. But rest assured, as you will look back at that photo as a start of an amazing journey and it will highlight how far you have come. So take it. Even if you don’t look at it straight after trust me you will be grateful you took it. Then take photos at regular intervals from as many angles as possible. If you have a partner, friend or family member who can take the photos, even better as you’re more likely to get a better full length photo. To start with, for the first 8 weeks I took the photos weekly. Then after every 3-4 weeks as progress can be slower. But it is still progress and those time you are feeling you aren’t getting anywhere you can look back at these and compare. You can physically see with your own eyes the progress you have made.

You are what you eat. A good 80% of the body battle is nutrition. If you are consistently over eating and eating rubbish you will not see the progress you want. On the flip side of that, if you are undereating and not fuelling your body correctly you will not have the energy or nutrients to work out in the way that will get you the body you want. When it comes to nutrition, everyone is different! There is not one diet for all! I am not a nutritionist, just speaking from personal experience and observation. For example I work really well on a slightly higher intake of good fats (e.g. nuts and avocado) but high sugar like too much fruit and carbs like pasta make me put on fat. I don’t personally count calories. That won’t necessarily work for everyone for example if you are over eating and are overweight, you may need to count calories in order to reduce them. I do however monitor what I eat, I make sure I am just conscious of what I am putting in my body. We can all fall in to the trap of mindlessly stuffing in food whilst watching TV for example. So don’t bother with the faddy juice diets and ridiculous 28 day detox teas. Change your life style. Change your nutrition. Starting a diet implies no longevity. Invest in your body, Listen to it. One book that was recommended to me which really helped me start to understand my own nutrition was a book by Paul Chek called “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!”. Amazing holistic book that has it all and also really acknowledges, how one diet does not fit all. Fantastic guidance on where to start.

When it comes to progress, you need to be conscious. You need to keep track of the changes and celebrate the achievements. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own body and if you aren’t. You don’t have to settle. You can move forward. You can progress.

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Fitness, Mindset

New Goals. New Programme.

New Programme Day!

So yesterday I started a new programme from my PT. We had just finished a phase to build some strength to help us in our next phase, hypertrophy training (muscle building). I both love and hate getting a new programme.

Getting a new programme for me always feels like a huge step towards my goal. Having a plan and time frame makes a dream a reality. Remember “a goal without a plan is just a wish”.

It’s new and after 6+ weeks on a programme it is always fun to change it up. You can get stuck in the comfort zone, just going through the motions. A new programme always creates enthusiasm and excitement. But this is always where the love/hate come in. It’s a change and sometimes it can bring about a little uncertainty. It takes you out of your comfort zone and that’s where change and growth takes place. You start new exercises and have to practice new techniques and form. Sometimes it’s the same exercise but different amount of reps, I then have to figure out what weight to start on. But this shock to the muscle and mind is always just what I need. Hitting the same muscles in a different way, seeing changes and progress. This is what will keep my moving. Moving towards my goals.

My Goals.

My goals have changed and evolved since I started. When I started I just wanted to lose some fat. Then I wanted to tone up and now my goals are something I never thought it would be. To build some muscle. These are my overall body goals but I have goals in between that will contribute to my overall goal. This helps build motivation, confidence and drive. When I started I couldn’t do 10 full push ups and I couldn’t pull up my own body weight. That is where I started.

And it doesn’t matter what your goals are. If it is to be able to run 5 minutes without stopping or deadlift 200kg. If it’s your goal, own it. Don’t let anyone belittle it or take it away from you. So many people will want to try and take this from you, whether it’s from jealously, misunderstanding or fear. But don’t let them.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger has said “ignore the naysayers!”.

This is your journey. Your choices. If you want it. Make a plan and go get it.

I found this idea both nerve racking and completely empowering. I can do and achieve anything I want. As can you! Do it. Go get it. Own it!

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Mindset

Where I Found Strength

Yesterday was one of those days. Non-stop. I had an early start for work, a doctor’s appointment, a stop at the super market, a delayed train home and prepped meals for the week then it was time for the Gym. Me and my partner walked as it was pretty warm and decided to hit legs! My favourite….

It was pretty packed in the gym so we decided to switch it up and do things in a different order. We did some work on quads and hamstring then moved over to the linear leg press. It was already stacked with an unbelievable amount of weight. My partner decided we should keep most of it on. Instantly in the back of my mind I could hear “you can’t do that!”, “There is no way”, “your legs are too tired”. I did two reps and stopped. Exasperated and frustrated, I put my head back against the rest and closed my eyes for a second. “I can’t do it”. I then challenged my boyfriend to try (we can be a bit competitive sometimes and leg day is the only day I can pretty much keep up with him!). He then pumped out 12 reps with what seemed little effort. I could feel my mood dipping and I was beginning to feel tearful. I stripped some weight off the machine and decided to start again. “I don’t think I can do this” “you’ve had a long day, you’re tired” is all I could hear chanting repeatedly in my mind. I did 6 reps and had to stop again. My boyfriend, tried to console me and reassure me I could do this but I didn’t want to hear it. I sat there deep in thought for a moment then walked to the gym toilets and sat on a stool. I was so mad at myself! It was then I had to tell myself. “You can do this! There is no reason you can’t”. This is what will separate me from the rest. This moment here. Not giving up. Even when I can think of plenty of reasons to go home. “I’m not in the right frame of mind”, “I’m tired”, “I can try again tomorrow”. I am here now and I want this. I needed to be stronger than my excuses. I came out stacked the weight back on cracked out 12 reps. My boyfriend was shocked and asking what had changed and I explained I’m not going to let my mind win!

This is where I found strength.

So yes, I have been there. At the gym, when you have 5 more minutes left of cardio or 1 more set of squats. This is where I found strength. This is where you can find it too. Pushing passed the pain. Not the kind of pain when you are going to injure yourself but the burn of muscle fatigue, when your heart is pounding in your ears and you are sweating in places you didn’t think you could sweat! This is where your mind will stop long before your body. Your mind will tell you that you are done, that you can’t do any more, that it hurts too much. That is your mind. Not your body. Your body will keep going much longer. When you get off the treadmill when you think “have nothing left”. You can still walk can’t you? You still make it home, you walk to the bathroom and stand in the shower. Your body is still going. Your mind is the one that stopped.

“Don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you are done.”

I have seen that quote thrown around quite a few times and I sometimes repeat it in my mind when I am working out. That is strength not stopping when it hurts, but when you are done. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t running as far as the girl next to you on the treadmill, or if you aren’t lifting the heaviest dumbbell. If you push passed that barrier, your barrier, that is strength. Those 3 reps you did after you thought you were done, Strength. Running 30 seconds longer than you told yourself you could, strength. Do not doubt yourself! I didn’t always have this mentality. For me, it just clicked and made sense.

Strength is body and mind.

You are still here. Those times before when you thought you couldn’t cope. You did. You are still here. Reading this. You are winning! If you fell off the bandwagon (skipped a week at the gym or a had a piece of cake)  but still want it.. you are still winning.

You can jump off the bandwagon now and again, as long as you don’t forget where you parked it!

Winning, succeeding isn’t an end goal it’s a mentality. It’s carrying on when you think you’re ready to quit.

You have not failed and you have not quit.

 

 

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