Motivation

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Let’s talk motivation…

It’s a conversation I have with people day in, day out.

‘How are you so motivated all of the time?’

‘Why do you always have so much energy?

‘Don’t you get bored of going to the gym?’

When you work in the fitness industry, people seem to think you’re a crazy superhuman machine, who’s full of beans 100% of the time.

The reality is, that just isn’t true! When you’re waking up at 5am, and finishing work at 9pm most days, of course you get tired. Heck, sometimes tired is an understatement. There are days when I feel like an absolute zombie, and the last thing I want to do is drag my butt to the gym.

Don’t get me wrong, some days the temptation to nap surpasses my desire to train. So I’ll let myself catch up on some Zzzs, and skip out on the gym – and that’s totally okay! Depriving myself of sleep is arguably going to be more detrimental than missing one session.

However, you have to draw a line. When motivation levels are low, it’s all too easy to talk yourself out of training. At times like this, you need that extra bout of dedication to help pull you through. I’m fortunate in that I genuinely enjoy moving, and never want to make a habit out of inactivity. If I don’t train, I feel blergh. Motivation levels drop, diet starts to slip and everything goes a little downhill from there.

This is a trend I see in others as well. That ‘day off’ soon turns to a week, then a month. Next thing you know, you’re five months down the line, 10kgs piled on and you’re ‘not sure where it all went wrong’. Hmmm.

For me, wellness and motivation come hand in hand; one spurs on the other. I’ve managed to establish that lovely little thing (and wondrously overused term nowadays) called ‘balance’, where my diet and training routine are flexible to fit with my lifestyle. I drink (occasionally too much) wine at the weekends, and take days off from the gym when I need/when my schedule dictates that I can’t fit in a session for myself.

So, returning to the question: how do I remain motivated?

Firstly, I freakin’ love my job. Yes, the early mornings can be a nuisance, but ultimately it’s very rewarding to help people make positive changes in their life.

Secondly, it’s about structure and organisation, but simultaneously about freedom. Somewhat counterintuitive, I know. The element of structure comes in making a habit out of the good stuff. My body knows that exercise is positive, and the gym is now a foundational part of my routine. I feel kinda lost without it.

Freedom lies in not punishing myself for the little things. If you don’t hit the mark every time, that’s ok. Skipping a session or having a day of questionable nutrition really isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s not going to be hugely detrimental to your progress, so long as you get back on track at the first opportunity. Use the setback as a chance to push forwards.

Be ya own motivation and all that.

Feels gooooood to be back writing! Hope you enjoyed reading this, and feel free to post any thoughts below.

Peace xoxox

Fitness Life Hacks

These tips/rules aren’t necessarily just for the newbies amongst us. The seasoned pros can also do with a little help every once in a while.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a killer playlist. Those days when you’re just not feeling it (and even the days when you are), pop on some badass tunes and go be a gangsta in the gym. Get ya swag on. My go-to? Drake or Future – undoubtedly both way too cool for me, but they do the job.
  2. Buy some kitchen scales. No doubts, no guess work. If you’re tracking macros, accurate calculations are important, otherwise you’re not really tracking anything at all. Just think, there are 9kcals in just one gram of fat, so inaccurate estimations could take you way over your desired daily intake.
  3. Carbs are not the devil. No, no, no. They’re an essential macronutrient, and play a vital role in energy production. They’re also the primary source of energy that the brain uses to function (full blog post to follow on this topic, as there’s simply too much to say here). For now, all you need to know is not to fear carbs, or avoid them completely. Instead, research how best to incorporate this food group into your diet, to help you reach your goals, alongside your preferred style of training.
  4. Sleep sleep sleep. Both your body and your brain rely on a good night’s sleep to operate effectively. A lack of rest will leave you feeling flat, depleted, and unable to perform at your full potential. If you’re busting your butt in the gym, make sure you’re allowing yourself adequate time for muscle growth and repair. Aim for 7-8 hours per night.
  5. Understand that the best way to learn is by doing. This industry is full of contradictions. One opinion undermines another on pretty much every subject. It’s unbelievably frustrating and will leave you questioning what to believe. The solution is to do your own research, broaden your knowledge and then put things into practice. Every individual body is different, and you won’t know what works for you unless you give it a shot.
  6. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut with your training; change up your routine on a regular basis. If you don’t alter your workouts, the body will adapt and a plateau in progress is inevitable. Not to mention, you’ll soon become bored and lose interest. Mix things up, try a new programme – your body will thank you for it!

15 Gym Girl Problems

Whether you’re a newbie to the fitness world, or an avid gym-goer, I’m sure you can relate to a few of these struggles. If you haven’t been faced with these problems just yet, then take my word… They’re REAL.

  1. The moment when you unthinkingly pour boiling water directly onto your protein powder, and your proats consequently become a disastrously-textured mess. Yuck! (Fitness life hack: mix in the protein powder after you’ve combined the oats and water, duh.)
  2. The constant struggle between your love for peanut butter and the desire to have visible abs.
  3. Coffee or preworkout. Is it acceptable to have both? Probably not, but let’s do it anyway… BAD IDEA.
  4. *WHY IS MY SKIN TINGLING?* Oh wait, that’s probably the result of consuming coffee and preworkout at the same time. Caffeine overload – SEND HELP.
  5. Not being able to sleep properly because of said caffeine, and stressing because sleep is the home of gainzzz.
  6. The battle between the aforementioned need for sleep (for muscle growth and repair purposes, not laziness – obviously) and that 5.30am workout you’ve scheduled.
  7. When you get to the gym and realise you forgot your headphones. Nightmare.
  8. Let me just pull my now somewhat sweat-laden phone out of my sports bra. Oh great, did he just see me do that?
  9. Learning to accept DOMS as a part of your everyday life… Cannot sit down like a normal human being. Cannot get up without looking like a grandma. Cannot climb stairs at all. Cannot comfortably raise arm above shoulder height.
  10. Cancelling social plans that don’t involve exercise or healthy food, in order to exercise or eat healthy food.
  11. Owning 487,000 pairs of leggings, but very few normal clothes.
  12. Wearing the same 3-5 pairs of leggings most of the time, despite previous point.
  13. Buying more unnecessarily expensive leggings, so the other 487,000 pairs can sit in your drawer for eternity.
  14. Wearing gym kit all of the time; even when you’re not going to the gym. Judge me all you like, I’m free to high kick in public whenever I feel like it (always).
  15. Need to wash my hair, but haven’t worked out yet today. Is it acceptable to leave the house like this?

‘Quick Fixes’ to Weight Loss

I bet that title caught your attention, hey?

Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you may have guessed what’s coming… Despite what you see on tv, or read in the media, there simply aren’t any quick fixes to weight loss.

Don’t be fooled by the beautiful models and Instagram celebs who promote these products; it’s amazing what some people will do to get a little cash in their pocket.

Trust me, these girls didn’t get abs like that by drinking three cups of detox tea per day. A strong, healthy body is the result of hard work, effort and determination. If you want to reduce body fat, you’ve got to put in the work. It’s that simple.

Here’s a list of key words that you may want to be wary of:

Cleanse: ‘purify your digestive system, with our three day juice cleanse’.

Hahahaha – nope. Consuming only juice is not a healthy or sustainable way to reduce body fat. Whilst your overall bodyweight is likely to drop whilst on a juice diet, this will primarily be water weight. It’s impossible to lose 10lbs of actual body fat in three days, despite what some very clever marketing campaigns will lead you to believe. Not to mention that reducing micronutrient-dense fruits and veggies to a juice depletes them of much of their fibre content – the very thing your gut loves about them in the first place… Work that one out.

Detox: ‘a miracle tea which will help you shift stubborn belly fat’.

Really!? No… Just no. If you believe these ludicrous statements, you’re the ideal target consumer for large corporations, who seek to make money through marketing ‘wonder’ products, which absolutely DO NOT WORK. Yes, a detox tea will have you sitting on the loo more than usual – so, again, you’ll shed a few pounds of water weight. But REALITY CHECK: your ‘stubborn belly fat’ (or any other fat for that matter) ain’t gonna shift as the result of a cuppa. Get to the gym, lift some weights and/or smash a short, high intensity cardio session. Done.

Low-Fat/Fat-Free: I’ve talked about this a lot before (check out my rant here), but it’s a fact that some people just can’t get their heads around. We’ve been driven to believe that fat is the root of all evil in the nutrition world, because people equate the word directly to body fat. However, fat will not make you fat. Fats are an essential macronutrient, which the body needs in order to function efficiently. Products stripped of their fat content are nearly always full of sugar and artificial ingredients, in order to compensate for the lack of fat(which is actually much more useful to our bodies than a whole load of chemicals), and make them as tasty as possible.

Protein: *WARNING* – just because a product is advertised as ‘high protein’, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy! There are too many ‘health food’ products on the market which are ridden with sugar and packed full of preservatives. The only way to find out is to always read the label, thoroughly. You know my rule by now, if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what the ingredient is, you probably don’t want to put it into your body.

So there you have it. Nothing can replace discipline. Stop searching for a quick result, and instead focus on the bigger picture.

‘Fitness’ is all-encompassing. There is no set destination, no end date. This is a lifestyle, and when you’re in it, you’re in it for the long haul. But trust me when I say, you’ll learn to love it.

 

Finding Inspiration

For me, inspiration and motivation go hand in hand. That being said, they don’t always exist naturally. Sometimes, you’ve got to get out there and find them for yourself.

I’m often asked how I maintain the motivation to eat good food and get my butt to the gym, so I’ve put together a few handy tips to help you find inspiration when you need it most!

1) Social Media Influencers.

Too many people focus on the negative aspects of social media, without appreciating its value. Fill your timeline with those who share the same interests as you – those who are already where you aspire to be.

If you’re looking for healthy recipes and meal inspiration, there are countless amazing profiles. Equally, if you’re searching for workout ideas, do a little research and discover your favourite fitness bloggers.

Don’t compare yourself to these people, but allow yourself to be influenced by their good habits. You’re much more likely to drag your perky little butt to the gym if your timeline is full of gym girls, than a group of old pals you haven’t seen for ten years on a drunken night out.

2) Utilising your own social media for good.

This leads on from my last point. Social media is more valuable than just selfies. Sure, the occasional progress update/sweaty gym snap is great, but don’t forget to also include quality content that can be genuinely useful to your followers.

We’re talking workouts, recipes, your favourite healthy cafés, or a new gym class. Even a motivational quote may be exactly what one of your followers needs to help them stay on track. By creating quality content, you’ll inspire others. That will, in turn, inspire you at the same time… I promise!

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You had a bad day, and ate half a tray of Krispy Kremes? Yep, we’ve all been there (except when it’s me, it’s most likely two trays of KK, a double cheeseburger and 14,000 bags of Haribo, but who’s counting anyway?).

It happens! Don’t beat yourself up. If you let a blip like this drag you down, it’s going to be much harder to re-establish the motivation to get going again.

Stay positive, and try not to overlook how far you’ve come. Get back on track as soon as possible, and avoid letting that cheat day turn into a cheat week, because it’s a downwards spiral from there. You’ve got this!

4) Tuuuuuuuuunes.

Never underestimate the value of a killer playlist to get you going. Music can totally transform both our mood and mentality. Find the tunes that make you feel like a badass, put your headphones in and zone out. It’s just you and your workout. Get it done.

5) Schedule your training.

If you’re a busy bee (who isn’t nowadays?), the best option is to allocate specific time slots within your week where you can go and workout. My recommendation is always to get up, get out and get it done in the morning, because that way, life can’t create nearly as many hurdles, temptations and excuses to interfere with your session.

Making the Most of Your Workout

As a Personal Trainer, I come across plenty of people attempting to lose weight, but going about it in the wrong way. I’ve come up with a few tips to help you make the most out of every workout.

1) Plan Ahead:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again). Getting to the gym with no session plan will lead to time wasting, and plenty of it. Arrive with a structure to follow – it’ll make your session a whole lot easier. If the machine you want to use is occupied, switch up the order and come back to it later. At least the session will be written down for you to see, so there’s no danger of mindblanks… We all know it happens!

2) Form:

Completing an exercise with bad form can make the movement much less effective, not to mention the extent to which it increases risk of injury. Deadlifting with a rounded back, or squatting with excess anterior (frontal) tilt places severe, unnecessary stress upon joints. To ensure you know how to perform exercises correctly, I recommend visiting a reputable website (such as bodybuilding.com), where you can watch a video that demonstrates perfect form. This will help you to gain more out of every movement.

3) Ditch the Phone:

You know as well as I do that taking a phone to the gym is the ULTIMATE distraction. Yet, we all still do it! Whether used for selfies or Facebook stalking, a phone simply isn’t helping you to get results. In order to maximise your time in the gym, leave the damn phone in your bag. You’ll survive without it for an hour…I promise.

Now it’s time to put these into practice. Enjoy!

High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training is a topic I’ve discussed before, but I’ve never dedicated a post solely to the subject. So, it’s about time for a little explanation! No doubt you’ve heard of HIIT – it’s everywhere nowadays. But for those of you that don’t really understand the concept, I’m here to help.

HIIT is an ideal form of exercise for those aiming to shed some body fat. We’re talking maximum calorie burn, minimum amount of time. It all sounds a bit too good to be true, right? Keep reading to find out how it works…

What is HIIT?

It’s a method of training which involves alternating between timed periods of high and low intensity. For example, circuit training with 40 seconds of hard work, followed by 20 seconds rest. The idea is to exercise at maximum capacity during the ‘work’ phase, before allowing your muscles to partially recover, and then repeat.

How does HIIT work?

Training at maximal effort shifts the heart rate into its anaerobic zone, meaning that muscles are forced to work without oxygen for a short period of time. An ‘oxygen debt’ is therefore established.

However (alike to all debts) this must be repaid; a process referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This is the increased rate at which muscles take in oxygen, after having performed strenuous exercise. The result? The body’s metabolic rate will remain elevated for hours after you finish working out. In simple terms, you’ll burn more calories whilst at rest, all because of that HIIT session.

The Benefits:

  • No gym? No problem! HIIT can be done at home. Basic, functional movements, such as squat and lunge variations (jumps are ideal), push ups and mountain climbers are all suitable.
  • HIIT doesn’t have to be hours long. It can be short and sweet – even just 25 minutes will do the job, provided you’re working at maximum capacity!

Now, get out there and give it a go for yourself.

Making Time to Workout

As a fitness professional, I’m certainly not new to the phrase ‘I don’t have time to exercise’; it’s something I hear all of the time. I get it, absolutely. If you have a full time job, or a family (or both… superheroes right there), then it can be difficult to take a little time out and focus on yourself. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important to do so… In fact, it becomes all the more vital.

Here are a few handy tips to help you find those extra minutes in the day, so you can smash a workout and feel great afterwards!

1) Get organised.

Buy yourself a diary, write out your plans and make a schedule. If you organise a specific time in the day for a workout, it’s much more likely that you’ll make it happen. I would recommend doing a session in the morning, because very few things can get in the way, such as having to work late, or last minute arrangements to see your pals. You don’t want to miss out on that!

2) Go to bed earlier.

A lack of sleep will leave you feeling lethargic and de-energised. If you want to have the motivation to workout and feel your best, optimum snooze time is 7-8 hours. Just think, an early night means that you can also wake up a little early, and fit in that much-needed workout to start your day.

3) Don’t train for hours.

A workout need not be excessively long. 20-30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is plenty. It’ll boost your metabolism and aid in fat burning throughout the course of the day! Not sure what HIIT is? Head over to YouTube, where there are plenty of real-time examples for you to try.

4) A workout doesn’t have to be in the gym.

When we think of exercise, we tend to think of a gym. For some, this thought alone is enough to avoid working out. In which case, try training at home. It’ll save you time and money. All you need is enough space for a yoga mat, as this is sufficient to perform a whole array of tough, fat-burning bodyweight exercises. Another top tip is to make use of your furniture… A dining chair alone is plenty of equipment – use your imagination!

Now, time for some tough love…

When it comes down to it, there are 24 hours in the day, and that’s the same for everyone. Admittedly, some people have more to squeeze into that period than others, but it’s all about organisation. If you want it, you have to make time. And I know as well as anyone that if you want it enough, you’ll make it happen.

Five Simple Steps Towards Achieving ‘Balance’

Balance seems to be the it word of the fitness industry right now. It’s everywhere. You’ve undoubtedly heard it tossed around; hey, perhaps you even use the word yourself. In this post, I want to address what ‘balance’ means to me, and suggest five simple steps to help you achieve it.

Here we go:

1) Don’t deprive yourself.

In my opinion, this is without doubt the most important factor. We’ve all been there, dabbling with (sometimes very bizarre) fad diets, without a legitimate understanding of them – usually because the logic behind them is somewhat constructed. Five cups of green tea a day and complete avoidance of anything mildly indulgent just isn’t sustainable. Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be exactly the same for everyone, but in my experience, this approach towards ‘health’ just doesn’t work. I’m now in a very content place, where I eat chocolate on a daily basis and enjoy every damn bite. Eat the good stuff – treat yourself. Just do so in moderation.

2) Get to know your body.

This very much leads on from the last point. A solid nutritional foundation is vital in enabling a sustainable lifestyle. I’ve come to understand how best to fuel my body – what works and what doesn’t. I know that eating regularly is essential in order to avoid hanger-related mood swings, along with the desire to eat everything I see all in one sitting. Do your research, experiment a little, and find what works for YOU – after all, every individual body is different.

3) Stop focusing solely on aesthetics.

Constantly studying your appearance is a torturous process, and it can become obsessive. Instead, focus on the way you feel. Eat nutritious food (around 80% of the time) because you gain enjoyment from knowing that you’re fuelling your body correctly. Exercise because you love to challenge your body’s capabilities, not because you ate too much junk last night. The point at which we are able to adjust our mentality towards ‘health’, is the moment that we can establish a genuine sense of balance.

4) Stop comparing yourself to others.

There’s no denying that this is a tough one to hack. Consider it this way: how can you achieve the slightest sense of contentment in yourself, if you insist on comparing yourself to others? Rather than scrolling through your Instagram homepage thinking, ‘I wish I looked like that’, be encouraged by another person’s strength, and allow them to be inspired by yours. It’s time we stop critiquing one another, and learn to work together. Be the source of someone else’s inspiration.

5) Find your thing.

I’ve used this phrase a lot recently, but it’s something I’m so passionate about. Exercise is a critical part of your journey towards a balanced lifestyle, however, it’s difficult to attain a sense of fulfilment doing something you don’t enjoy. For me, running on a treadmill is the most boring thing in the world, so I find alternative ways to get in a cardio workout. Try a new class with a friend, go hiking at the weekend, revisit a childhood activity. Don’t limit yourself, get out there and find something you love – that way, you’re far more likely to stick at it.

Training Systems: Supersets

Has your workout routine become a little boring? Perhaps you’re not seeing the results you hoped for? Don’t stress – I may have just the answer for you.

Training systems are specific methods of exercise which can be implemented into your gym routine (very easily might I add!). They come in a variety of forms – supersets, trisets, giant sets, pre/post-exhaust sets, pyramids; the list goes on. To avoid sending you all to sleep, I’m going to focus solely on supersets in this post.

What is a superset?

A superset is when two different exercises are performed back-to-back, with no rest in between; rest is taken when a full set of both exercises is complete. There are two forms of superset (this is where it starts to sound tricky, but I promise, it’s actually pretty simple):

  • Agonist-agonist: working on the same muscle twice, through two different exercises, such as chest press and chest flies, both of which focus primarily on the pectorals.
  • Agonist-antagonist: working on opposing muscles, such as a bicep curl and a tricep extension.

How do supersets work?

A superset places excess stress on the muscle, forcing it to work much harder than during a single set. Working muscles will be pushed outside of their comfort zone, which is essential in stimulating progression.

Why should you use supersets?

There are so many reasons to use supersets! Here are just a few:

  • Efficiency: supersets are incredibly time-efficient. If your whole workout consisted of them (not that I would necessarily recommend this for everyone), you could almost double your workload in the same amount of time! As we know too well, time is always of the essence – I don’t know anyone who has enough of it.
  • Results: supersets are an incredible addition to any programme, particularly if you are training for hypertrophy (muscle growth). Don’t fret… Increased muscle mass won’t make you ‘bulky’ (for more information on lifting weights, check out this post). Instead, it will lead to a more toned appearance and a higher resting metabolic rate. Who can argue with that!?
  • Variety: supersets will mix up your workout. A boring programme won’t make you get your butt to the gym. Shaking things up every so often is the key to maintaining motivation, and also crucial in avoiding plateaus.

Try adding some supersets to your workouts, and don’t forget to let me know how you get on! Contact me on: charlotteshelley1@gmail.com