Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

‘Bit By Bit’

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Last week I went away for my once a year 7 days off. Where I went and what I didn’t wasn’t really that important. What is important is that when the noise of day to day life quietens down to a whisper or even better nothing at all, I start to listen to different things going on in my head. I find that a little space and time away from the daily grind allows me to find some perspective on things and to absorb information fully. One thing that struck a chord with me the most was a segment from the book ‘Never Let Go’ by Dan John where Dan talks about realistic expectations in life, lifting and learning. For him, literally everything that requires improvement or growth of the good or bad kinds does so at a slow rate, or ‘bit by bit’ as Dan puts it.

This got me thinking about everything I do and how this understanding of the ‘bit by bit’ principle applies so strongly to the results that my patients and clients can and should expect.

If someone comes to me with an injury that they have had for years and years, this injury in all likely hood was getting worse bit by bit. Getting a little more painful as the years or months had gone by until they decided to do something about it. This gradual process of pain is a strain on our bodies yes but also on our mental wellbeing and this bites away at us bit by bit until we decide to do something about it. An interesting observation I made with regards to a person’s rehabilitation is why people who have been suffering with pain for years sometimes expect to be cured from their pain in one session (which is the case in some individuals). Yes there are some cases that are clear from the start and can be treated accurately in one session but by and large the bulk of the work that needs to be done in order to fully treat an ailment needs to be done bit by bit over a period of time. If a problem occurs over a long period of time, should we always expect a magical BOOM moment every time where the pain suddenly disappears? I am sometimes guilty of this myself when portraying the sudden results I have found in some of the case studies I mention. These are the quick-fun moments when you are able to make an instant effect on someone’s pain levels. But the real fun cases (and the majority of the patients that all of those in the rehabilitation world see) are the ones where I work alongside my patients for an extended period of time through their entire rehabilitation. Yes you should expect results when being treated, but don’t always expect instant results. Remember, bit by bit.

The bit by bit approach also rang very true with regards to fat loss and fat gain. In the western world adults tend to gain on average 1-2lbs per year throughout their adult life. Not much when you think about a single pound in weight gain, but in under ten years (based on these numbers) you could be a whole stone heavier. Bit by bit the fat adds up until one day you open your wardrobe and realise that all of your jeans you used to love now don’t fit you at all.

At this point I speak only from a PT’s point of view working with clients who wish to create body transformations as the size an individual should or shouldn’t be isn’t for me to preach. However I am a believer that a strong, lean individual speaks of greater health much more than an overweight version of the same person and for me it is health that is the priority, looking better nekkid as a result of a lifestyle choice is a bonus for those out there 

When we tackle fat loss or performance enhancement it is done bit by bit over a period of weeks, months and years. The masters of fat loss, competitive body builders spend months and months in preparation for an event. Their fat loss in order to be the leanest they can be, happens over a period of months until they reach their peak. Average Joe who wants to drop a couple of jean sizes must understand that like his weight gain, fat loss too occurs over a period of time. It is however largely up to him how much time it can take as his actions will affect his progress as a whole.

If you think of life as being split into tiny chunks of time, it is what we do with those tiny chunks of time that affects the overall results. Do you eat chips and drink beer of a weekday evening or do you go to the gym? Do you study hard in a new skill you are trying to master or do you just watch tv instead? Do you prepare fresh foods for yourself or your kids, or do you just feed them processed junk? The answers to these questions will affect which way things in your life grow piece by piece.

‘Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out’

On the outside it’s a simple question.

Do you have ‘It’

‘It’ is the magic ingredient that separates those few people from the overwhelmingly large number of people who don’t have ‘it’.

Now what specifically is ‘it’!? ‘It’ isn’t something that only a few people can have, it’s something that everybody on this planet can attain. ‘It’ is a group of behaviours, it is a pattern of actions that lead to a desired goal. Let me give you a few examples of the sorts of behaviour that those who have ‘it’ exhibit (all names are fictional tho most of the stories below are examples of what I have personally seen in clients).

Dan has a tough week ahead, he will be working 12 hour days 7:30-7:30pm plus some evenings in preparation for an important presentation to present to the management team at work next week. Instead of cancelling his training with his training partner or PT he organises to finish work at 7:30, down a protein shake and head to the gym. He trains hard for an hour before getting home at 9:30, eating a quick dinner, prepares meals for the following day before completing an extra hour of work before bed. He then rinses and repeats this day for the rest of the week. There was never any question about making it in for his workouts or making the time to prepare his meals for the following day. He knows that hard graft builds the body and that his food is what fuels his fat loss.

Jodie has a lot of friend’s birthday’s coming up where she will be going out a lot. Instead of conforming and drinking and eating whatever sounds delicious, she decides to drive and carefully select her meals at the restaurants. She is ridiculed by her friends for being ‘obsessed’ or stupid for opting for the salad rather than going for the pizza and chocolate fudge cake for afters.  She doesn’t need to make excuses to them because she knows that to her, her goals are more important to her than conformity to social eating and drinking habits. She knows that the term ‘obsessed’ is a term used by the weak about the dedicated. She’s paving her own route and still having a great time with her friends because she knows that she doesn’t need cake or wine to be happy. Besides she has a workout planned for tomorrow that she wants to be fresh for.

Gerard comes into the gym fresh after a few days rest looking forward to another absolute monster of a session. He leaves an hour or so later, legs shaking and has to pace the car park as his legs just won’t stop burning from the hell he’s just endured.  He paces with a grin on his face, sweat still running down from his forehead.  A year ago he was a lazy, overweight dude that had run out of excuses and was heading to a place called metabolic syndrome where the lucky residents there have a cocktail of high blood pressure, high triglycerides and cholesterol and a very high chance of cardiac disease. Now he’s in the shape of his life still coming back to the gym for more each time, still hungry to erase the memory of who he used to be. He could have given up after his trainer initially told him to cut down on alcohol, to drop a large percentage of his carbohydrates or even when he said he wouldn’t necessarily reach his long term goals for some time.

This last example is one that a very dedicated client gave me before Christmas;

 We all know that Christmas is a time when socialising tends to take precedence above most other things.  So when one of my clients was asked by a work colleague to bum off work early to get a few drinks in before the work’s Christmas party my client replied with

“sorry mate I have a PT session this evening.”

The work colleague came back with;

“Nah, sack that off and come to the pub.  Besides you can always go tomorrow.”

Finally my client silenced his work colleague with;

“It was taking the attitude of doing things tomorrow that got me fat and unhealthy in the first place.  I’m not going to miss my session”

That is a true example of the magic ingredient ‘it’.

‘It” is simply the actions the above example people chose to make in situations that weren’t always easy.  The toughest route is usually the path less travelled on.  It usually reaps the largest rewards but takes the most amount of effort.  Individuals with ‘it’ don’t choose the easy option on the restaurant menu, they choose the option that best suits their goals. They might at that time prefer the burger with chips but they know for a fact that it won’t help them reach their goals so why the hell should they consider it. Hell yeah we only live once and we should enjoy it, but if you are desperately miserable because you can’t eat a burger or an ice cream when you go out because you have fitness or health goals, I would suggest you take a look at your relationship with food.  If giving up that makes you miserable then maybe you aren’t in a position to tell your ‘obsessed’ friend that they need to enjoy themselves. There is more to life than food.

People with ‘it’ don’t make excuses for not making a workout, they make time for it. 

People with ‘it’ make time to prepare their meals for the week, they don’t hide behind the excuse of not having time. They make time.

People with ‘it’ don’t give up when they reach a plateau. They find a way around it or through it because they don’t have the quitting attitude.

People with ‘it’ go to bed early because they know that the extra sleep will help them with their body composition or athletic goals.

People with ‘it’ aim to inspire the people around them, their girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, sons, daughters etc to do better for themselves. 

People with ‘it’ don’t say that they’ll start such and such ‘tomorrow’ or they’ll drop X or Y from their diet in a month or two. They do it. However if they do phase in a behaviour or nutritional change, they plan for it and do it.

People with ‘it’ don’t hide behind excuses of any kind. If they don’t achieve their goals they understand that it is their actions that define whether they achieve them or not. They are responsible for their actions and if they have slipped up or if life has got in the way, they are the people who hold their hands up and admit their mistakes but they are also the people who will jump right back on track and work double hard to undo any lost progress.

If you are reading the above examples and see some of your own actions listed, then you probably have ‘it’. If however you are reading them and do not see any behaviours common with your own then perhaps you haven’t quite found ‘it’ yet.  That doesn’t mean you won’t ever do what it takes, it just means that at this present time you aren’t ready to.  Which is ok, most of the people that I have worked with or trained didn’t always have ‘it’, most of them stumbled across it and once bitten by the rewards of positive actions for themselves, were bitten for life. 

It’s not all as Hollywood as one might imagine. The guy in the example above pacing the car park wasn’t doing a victory dance because he had worked super hard in his training. He was pacing the car park because his legs hurt and sitting down in the car was painful.  Not every workout was like that for him, but that is just a metaphor to show you what some people are willing to do to reach their goals. The girl mentioned above who was mocked by her friends for not drinking or eating the sugar loaded foods that the rest of her friends did of course have doubts.  Yes she felt unsupported and a little hurt that her friends thought she was being silly, but she persevered because she wanted to reach her goals badly.

To finish I’ll leave you with a couple of my favourite quotes regarding people who have that magic ingredient, who are prepared to lead from the front and do whatever it takes.

“Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful” – Eric Thomas

Basically, if you want something bad enough, you’ll do what it takes.  You won’t make excuses and you will allow your actions to speak for themselves.

So ask yourself, do you have ‘it’?

 

This started out as a facebook status but kinda went beyond the length of any status I have ever seen so I decided to drop it into a blog post.
 

I don’t take many supplements and never really have.  I am an advocate of a healthy diet and only supplement areas that I feel (based on information that I read and some from my own experience of how my body works) need to be enhanced.  These include a multivitamin (without vit D), a separate Vit D supplement, magnesium, Branched chain amino acids (for workouts only) and fish oil. 

 
If I could only take one of these it would be fish oil (or for the veggies out there something rich in omega 3’s like flaxseed oil).  A ratio of omega 6: Omega 3 of 1:1 is an indicator for lower risks of cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancers.  Omega 3’s are the most potent natural anti-inflammatory source we can provide in our diets. Clients of mine with chronic inflammation related to injuries or surgeries (especially around joints) all comment on the reduction of inflammation and swelling around those areas when on a high dosing protocol of fish oil.  
 
Most western diets have a ratio of around 15:1 omega 6 to omega 3, its our job to combat that!  Take a read of the abstract and conclusion of this wordy but fascinating study on the importance of a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 relation to cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
 
 
And if your health wasn’t enough of an incentive to sort out your ratio’s here is another study highlighting the benefits of taking fish oil on lean body mass and levels of body fat. To quote the discussion points at the end;
 
‘The results of this study showed that 6 weeks of supplemental fish oil significantly increased lean mass, and significantly reduced fat mass in healthy adults.’  
 
 
More muscle and less fat?  And a decrease in cardiovascular risks all from a simple supplement? Yep.
 
Thats right, eat fat to lose fat, it’s not the devil we are told it is

Fat loss is one of the holy grails of personal trainers, coaches, nutritionists, chefs and almost anyone who plans to head to the beach at some point in their life.  Yes it’s shallow to suggest that we all want to look lean and muscular and less squishy around the edges but for everyone there is a glimmer of truth in it.  Behavioural psychologists would tell us that it is natural for us to want to look our best or better than others from a procreation standpoint.  Much like how the male peacock displays it’s amazing feathers to impress the lady peacocks, psychologists would say we humans are instinctively wired to be shallow to a degree.  But lets not get stuck into the psychology of why people strive for fat loss, lets just look at how you can achieve it.  There are a million different ways to lose fat, literally there are thousands of different nutritional or fasting protocols, diets, exercise regimes and hypnotherapy sessions that you can attend to achieve your goals but here are my 6 transitions towards fat loss that I have seen work time and time again. 

1.TURN UP

I kinda stole this idea from my favourite fitness writer Coach Dan John (found at http://danjohn.net/ ) as he cites this as the number one most important factor towards reaching any of your goals.  Simply do something, just turn up.  This doesn’t exclusively mean make sure you turn up for every single gym session, it means that if you start doing something it is way better than doing nothing.  Preparing your meals the night before and being prepared for the day is turning up.  Deciding not to eat that cake that is offered to you is turning up.  Going to the gym even though you are tired is turning up.  It comes in all shapes, sizes and formats but doing something is better than doing nothing.  This resonates with me and is a fantastic philosophy to live by.  If you just turn up then you are onto something.  Why is this so important?  It’s a huge start because so many people contemplate starting a fat loss nutritional protocol or hiring a personal trainer or coach to whip them into shape, but don’t.  In fact too many people are just sat in the contemplation zone and rarely dip their toes into the ocean of actually doing something.  So if you are one of those people that consistently turns up then you are way ahead of the majority still stood on the waters edge. It doesn’t sound like much but trust me, it is.

2. YOUR DREAM BODY STARTS IN THE KITCHEN, NOT THE AB CRUNCH MACHINE

I quite frequently get asked ‘whats your secret man’ or ‘how do you manage to keep a six pack’ and the answer that I give to people is the actually the last thing they really want to hear.  They want to know how they can get a quick fix towards their goals but the truth of the matter is that I eat healthy ALL THE TIME and train A LOT.  These two combined are the only secrets anyone who is in shape will have to impart on you so there you go.  Eat healthy all the time and train a lot.  Simple yeah?  Nope!

The second point on this list of fat loss transitions is that now you have turned up and are ready to do what it takes you now have to start your fat loss journey by going into the kitchen, take a deep breath and start throwing things out of your cupboards. Spending 30mins removing all junk food, sugary drinks and any and all processed foods from your cupboards and fridge will have more impact on your fat loss than that zumba class you are going to twice a week.  It’s harsh, but it’s true. I don’t care how many situps you do a week, if you don’t change your diet you will not see a change in that area.  The only reason my clients do work on the abs or entire core region is to increase support during movement. A toned stomach starts in the kitchen with clean eating being the primary food and damn hard work in the gym being the side dish to this meal.

3. FAT LOSS NUTRITION V1.0

I’m not going to waffle on about the science and reasons behind why I suggest the following foods too much.  If you want to talk about it in more detail than email me at joff@awakeningfitness.co.uk and I will be happy to answer any questions you have in more depth.  

So here it is, you are less than 2 months away from that holiday you booked and you aren’t happy with how your body looks.  You have tried increasing your stomach crunches from 50-100 a day.  Your neck is aching, your stomach feels harder but underneath a 2 inch layer of fat that won’t budge.  Instead of increasing your stomach crunches from 100 a day to 500 a day just bear with me for two mins, read the ‘so simple a child could understand it’ nutritional advice below, digest it (no pun intended) and do it.  You can forget about the stomach crunches and neck ache from too much spinal flexion.

From now until your holiday/beach trip/ party eat and drink the following foods and drink.

– Any meat (including fish), eggs, any vegetables (excluding potatoes), berried fruit, nuts or nut butters, avocado’s, olives, olive oil, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut water, water, any spices and herbs.
So in one sentence you have dozens upon dozens of meal options. All it means is removing the following foods

NO SUGAR

This means all forms of sugar apart from the sugars found in vegetables (not potatoes) and some fruit.  I’ll say that again, the only sources of carbohydrates or sugar that you will be eating will come from vegetables and fruit. No exceptions, period.

Think you need that red bull mid morning to give your energy levels a boost? Then you are wrong, our ancestors didn’t rely on high sugar and caffeinated drinks for energy so neither do you. This also means cutting out rice, pasta, bread or any gluten containing products like sausage rolls, pasties, pizza’s, cakes, biscuits or cookies, breakfast cereals of any kind and obviously chocolate and sweets.

So lets just stop for a minute and assess what i’ve just said as for some people even though it’s written in black and white it still doesn’t sink in.

Meat? Check!

Vegetables? Check!

Fruit? Check

Nuts, olives, avocado’s? Check!

Eggs? Including the yolks? Check and check!

Bucket loads of water? Check!

It’s that simple folks.  If you can cut out the crap and concentrate on unprocessed natural foods that are grown or caught wild then you are onto a winner.  Do yourself a favour and simplify things.  You will drop body fat, you will have more energy, you will improve your blood profiles, you will sleep better.  

Also take a good dose of fish oil to speed up the effects.  Fish oil is one of the most inti inflammatory products available to us.  High dosing on a quality fish oil has proven to speed fat loss, decrease the time it takes to recover from workouts and help with energy levels. 1g/ml per % of body fat is a good guide to follow.

A note to the wise though, portion control of all the foods above is of course of paramount importance.  If you just sit and eat three punnets of strawberries, followed by 2 bags of nuts on top of your three meals a day, dropping fat is unlikely to occur.  Don’t be a fool, eat sensibly.

4. START EXERCISING – HIT THE WEIGHTS

After you have engaged your ‘turn up’ mentality, it’s now time to start exercising.  Hit the weights or do some form of resistance training to build lean muscle mass and engage the fat burning within your body.  If you don’t have access to a gym then do some bodyweight exercises, but please ensure that you keep your training progressive.  If you are able to master the bodyweight squat, find some way to increase the resistance.  Just continually increasing the reps until you are doing 200 reps isn’t the most efficient way to progress.  I’m sorry to say this but the ‘aerobic’ classes like zumba might be really fun but if fat loss is your primary goal then you need to shift your efforts towards an activity better suited to those goals.  Endless spin classes a week may initially help but you will end up losing muscle mass along with the fat you will be dropping and you will look and feel a little haggard before your body adapts and cortisol levels sore and fat loss halts regardless of how many spin sessions you attend (apologies again to the spin fanatics, but it’s the truth).  

My triathlete clients that run and cycle hundreds of miles a month know that doing weights is important to maintain muscle mass so you should too.  If you don’t know what to do then hire a trainer or coach.  It’s their job to know the most efficient ways to help you towards your goals.  I read an interesting tweet a while ago that said that someone who enters a gym and expects to train like a pro without the help of someone qualified to do so is like representing yourself in court. You might just scrape enough info to cover the basics but in the end you will struggle.   

5.  MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

This is one of those crucial points that some people ignore when embarking on a new goal.  Make your nutrition and training work for you.  Phase it in in the best possible format that works for you.  If you can’t drop a certain food because you feel emotionally attached to eating it then drop something else and phase in the rest until you have all bases covered.  The same applies to your exercise regime.  Make it work for you but either way prepare yourself to make some sacrifices to get what you want.

6. BE REALISTIC

If you only have 3 weeks to drop a shed load of fat then it might be unlikely that you will achieve this.  It’s important that your expectations of yourself and of your coach are realistic.  If you want to drop fat but find yourself eating sugary treats in the evening because you are bored, accept that this will hinder your progress so don’t bitch about it. If you are prepared to go the extra mile then you can expect faster results.  You get out what you put in and your body doesn’t lie. 

This isn’t an exclusive list of things related to fat loss in fact i’m just skimming over the top but for most of you hopefully it’s a start.  The nutritional advice above isn’t exclusive and you will need to tweak things but again I hope is enough to get you started.  If you want to read about how to eat for better health and fat loss in more depth then head on over to http://robbwolf.com/  Robb wrote a book called the Paleo Solution which will change the way you look at food, so go buy it.

If still in doubt after everything above just follow the KISS principal;
Keep 

It

Simple

Stupid

Simplify things, it doesn’t need to be difficult it just needs to work.
http://awakeningfitness.co.uk/

I often get asked by clients and friends some very similar questions;

‘what is the most important thing for me to be doing in order to get where I want?’ 
‘Should I be training 2 hours a day, every day?’ 
‘I ate like crap at the weekend Joff, do you think I should get on the treadmill for half an our to combat that?’

Here I hope to answer many of those questions by sharing with you what I and prob almost every smart coach or trainer out there would see as the holy trinity of body composition.

Before i go onto this holy trinity i want to discuss what i mean whenI talk about body composition. What I’m talking about is how much muscle mass you have in comparison to fat mass. I don’t mean how big and muscly you are,  I mean how lean you are as that is ultimately what most people are striving for. Not being the biggest or smallest but looking the best nekkid! Weight loss is a stance I detest, it can be a nice guide initially when looking to drop body fat but in the end I always ask this question;

“Would you rather weight 7-10pounds more than your ‘ideal’ weight and look fantastic or weigh 7-10 less and not look as good?” 

This is a real situation that many people, particularly women find difficult to comprehend because we are constantly told that it is our weight that matters. I could point out plenty of people who’s weight and size might be classed as normal but they may have 20-30% body fat. They in many cases would weigh less than someone of the same size who has a body fat % of somewhere between 10-15%. In the long run, with regards to health and materialistic shallow views on each other, it is the leanest that tend to win popularity and live longer lives.

So how do you reach the lean potential that many people have the right and opportunity to reach? Here are the three things that when combined will make the greatest changes on how you look and feel.

1. Training
2. Nutrition
3. Sleep/Rest

Three simple areas that when combined produce the best results. Let me explain each one then I’ll go into more detail about how they as a whole create the best of the best!

1. Training

This is a fairly simple one to explain. If you’re training program is either old, not specific enough for you, poorly periodised, or just flat out crap then you have no hope in hell in reaching your goals in the gym and the fat loss or muscle building ones you may have in relation to this.  If you are training to win mr Olympia and you’re training program sucks, then you won’t get anywhere. If you are an athlete who wants to improve your power or work rate and your program is poorly periodised or lacks progression then you will stay stagnant or even worse become injured. Or if you are like most people who set foot in the gym and just want to fit into that new dress or pair of jeans, or look good for those holiday snaps.  If you’re training program consists of 20mins of cross trainer, 20 mins of bike followed by 30 stomach crunches then progress is not going to become your middle name I’m afraid. Trust me on this, I’ve seen it a thousand times before and I have never seen any of the above examples help those individuals reach their goals.

Your training program has to be exactly that. Yours! Specific, measurable, progressive and motivating! All of these variables have to be in a program or it will fail. As Joe Ken, someone who i think is one of the most interesting coaches in the strength and conditioning world once said; “program writing is an art, and I think of myself as am artist’.  As we all know, there is a very big difference between a monet and a street corner artist selling characateurs of passage by. The same difference applies to the art of writing efficient programs.

Not only does your training program have to be spot on, you also have to train like there is no tomorrow! Brutal hard work is the only thing that separates a training program on paper from the training program in real life. If you want to succeed then you have to train like someone who desires success.

2. Nutrition

This is without a doubt as important if not more so than training. If you’re nutritional program is poor or non-existent then gains in and out of the gym will be slow if at all.  I’ll put it to you straight, and if you take anything away from this blog let it be this:

You simply cannot out train a poor diet. It doesn’t matter how many hours you put into your training each week, if you eat junk most of the time, you will look like someone who eats junk. 

Your nutrition is the largest thing in your life that a trainer or coach cannot fully control. Commitment must come from you. And must be something that you take ownership of. Saying that you don’t have the time or are bored with the choices doesn’t really cut it if you then go and choose to eat a shed load of bread, cake or chocolate and then complain that you aren’t reaching your goals. You reap what you sow when it comes to you’re nutrition and nothing short of full commitment is the one thing that separates those that reach their goals from those that don’t. It really is as simple as that.

3. Sleep/Rest

This is by far the most overlooked aspect of anyone’s body composition goals. The only time you are able to recuperate and build muscle or eat away at your body fat is after training, in the hours and days following a workout. For guys wanting to put on muscle, it has been proven that better and longer sleep increases growth hormone secretion during our sleep. Testosterone levels are highest when we are at rest and insulin sensitivity is aided by decent sleep.

Rest and sleep don’t just include the evenings and nights directly following a workout, they extend to daily stress levels as well. People who live extremely stressful lives are the ones most likely to hit a wall or plateau on their fat loss journey.  Stress levels directly affect cortisol levels in our body. Cortisol is a stress hormone secreted at times when we are under large amounts of mental or physical stress and one of the negative side effects of this hormone is that it unfortunately places a large stopper on fat loss. Making time to relax every day by doing something that you enjoy will help to lower those cortisol levels. It could be as simple as sitting in the sauna for 15 mins following your workouts to help relax the muscles and the mind. Whatever it is that you find helps keep you relaxed, practice it and use it as another tool towards your fat loss goals.

In order to make the most amount of progress in your fat loss goals then you have to fully apply all three of the above mentioned aspects. Two out of three is ok, one out of three is poor and as such will reap similar rewards.

The people that you see in the gym or on the beach who have the best physiques or sports stars who are the best in their game are the people that fully optimise the above strategies. 

I promise you that if you have the right training program tailored for you and if you train like your life depended on it whilst maintaining a strict diet free of processed foods, sugars, grains, excess dairy and included time to sleep well at night and make time for plentiful mental rest periods in your week, you will reach your goals. This is a fact. You won’t necessarily get there within a week or a month or even 3 months, but you will get there.

Take a look at your life at the moment and how your fat loss or muscle gaining goals are coming along. Are you falling short somewhere? Could you do better? If so, then why aren’t you letting yourself do better? Are mediocre results good enough for you?……

I seriously doubt it.  

http://awakeningfitness.co.uk/

2011 thus far…

9 months in to the year I think it’s about time I took a step back and thought about some of the great successes that my clients have achieved so far.  We all know that January is the busiest month of the year when people start their new years resolutions with regards to their health and wellbeing.  Most fall short of their goals for one reason or another.  Below is the list of successes that my clients (some of which I have trained since January, some since long before) have achieved in the previous 9 months and are the ones who didn’t give up during the quiet times of the year and who have consistently worked hard from session number one!

In 2011 so far have helped clients lose a combined fat loss of over 11 stone, or 154 lbs if you’d rather look at it that way.  My clients have added a total combined strength increase of over 700kgs   (1543 lbs) across all lifts so far since January.  What does this strength increase mean? It means lean muscle gain. And for the ladies out there who worry that weight training will get you big, then let me tell you that that is a myth! Some of my strongest, leanest female clients are under 5’3″ and are size 8-10 with a lifting capacity of at least 1.5x their body weight. Every single week since January 1st, one or more clients of mine have beaten their personal bests in one lift or another.  Some people spend months trying to increase their ability in something, my clients have proven that with hard work, correct programming and nutrition that they can excel upon previous bests week upon week.

I have worked with competing athletes, weekend warriors, mums, dads, housewives, househusbands, the elderly and the young.

I have helped clients who have suffered with weight troubles their entire lives, make drastic changes and drop kilos of body fat and inches upon inches off their body.  I have helped them gain vast increases in self confidence, had the fortune (or misfortune for their wallets) of making these changes result in completely new wardrobes. 

I have helped older less mobile clients with hip replacements become more mobile and pain free. I have helped triathletes and marathon runners shave time off of their previous personal bests. I have helped them train consistently  pain free all year, allowing them to remain on top of their game no matter the season. I have helped football players become drastically more explosive than previous seasons.  

I have helped clients who have suffered with IBS their entire lives eradicate such problems for good. Even after doctors had told them that it is a condition they will suffer for life due to ‘stress’.  I have helped clients with mild to serious intestinal inflammation live a healthier inflammation free lifestyle. 

My clients have enjoyed energy levels higher than they have ever experienced and enjoyed the best nights sleep of their lives, some after suffering with sleeping problems for decades. I have helped clients with low thyroid function increase their bodies natural thyroid ability and even helped them lose body fat whilst not on medication. Much to the surprise of their doctors! 

I have helped clients who have suffered with back pain for years, move and sit pain free. I have helped clients who have come off the back of serious injuries rehabilitate their bodies so that they are able to get on with their daily lives in much more comfort than before. I have helped to create transformations so great that because clients have taken complete ownership of their health and wellbeing that they have gone on to make other drastic changes in their lives and have helped to inspire similar changes on their surrounding friends and family. 

These changes are why I became a personal trainer. I don’t list these things above due to some arrogant need to show off, I list things as a testament to the hard work and success of my clients. So that they might read this and see themselves in these words. I am only as successful as they are. I don’t ask for any thanks or praise as their success is all the thanks I need. Seeing my clients drop more body fat, seeing their surprised and proud faces after lifting 10kgs more on their box squat than they thought they would be able to, or having a client email me saying that they produced a new personal record in a triathlon or half marathon; these are what fuel my passion towards helping them reach their goals!

This is only a list of personal successes in the previous 9 months. Just think of the list of successes I will be able to sing from the hill tops about in another 9 months!? 

If you have personal goals relating to your health, weight or fitness then let me help you so that I can list your success story in my next update. The only thing I ask for is hard work and some self belief that what you want is achievable. Just ask my current clients, they’ll tell you that your dreams aren’t really that far off.

To your continued success!

Joff brown

http://awakeningfitness.co.uk/

Hard work.

What does it really mean to ‘work hard’?  You may know what it means to work hard, but are you actually ready to work hard?

This is a question that I face all too often when dealing with my clients.  A lot of people know what it means to work hard in the gym and work towards a transformation, but it is a whole different ball game in actually executing the action and doing it.

Does working hard equate to just joining the gym and getting yourself down there a few times a week to do some form of exercise? Are you working yourself hard by visualising your goals and preparing yourself to make a change? Is it hiring a trainer or coach to help give you direction and motivation? Is it that last repetition on your final set that hurts like hell but you or your coach pushes you to complete?

I’d say that all of the above equates to hard work on one level or another.  But if that really is the case, then where would you fit on that scale? Are you one of those people that after seeing yourself gain 15 lbs over a year decide to join the gym and jump on the treadmill for 20 minutes 3 times a week. If you are, do you really think that that is enough to help you reach your target body composition? (read my blog here on cardio vs weight training for fat loss for more info on why this method sucks. 

If the honest answer is no, then my next question is; what are you prepared to do to actually get to where you want to?

Hiring a trainer to help you get where you want might be the next best option right? We’ve trained in exercise and advanced nutritional know-how so are naturally a good option to help you achieve you’re goals yeah? Well yes we are.  

So you have hired yourself a trainer and now expect superb results in and out of the gym fairly pronto.  But the trainer you hire, makes you do exercises that cause your muscles to ache for 3 days to begin with and you don’t like this.  Not only that but your trainer has asked you to stop eating breads, rice, and potatoes for a start. This guy must be crazy right? The food pyramid tells us that we need plentiful portions of carbs in order to maintain energy.   So you start to question why you got a trainer in the first place. It’s a natural inclination to ask how it can be a good thing to be in pain and to cut out a lot of the foods that our government tells us we should have lots of.  But you remind yourself of the age old saying ‘no pain, no gain’ and that you have committed yourself to giving this a go for a month or 2 so continue to adhere to your trainers requests of dropping certain foods and working hard in the gym.

This is the logical path and thought processes that go through a hell of a lot of people’s minds.  It is however at this point where Joe/Jane bloggs is likely to go in one of 3 directions that will ultimately affect how they are likely to look and feel about their appearance and overall health in a few months time.

Person 1. Unaccustomed to having to make drastic changes, and having the trainer make them work hard.  Despite having a good time in the sessions and seeing some pretty good results with regards to body shape and the numbers within the gym, this person will eventually give up on training after a couple of months. They are likely to have had some really good results in a short period of time but don’t believe that they can continue like this for much longer, not because their trainer is working them hard, but because they don’t want to let themselves work hard.  They retire and ultimately digress rather than progress. These are the people that thought about working hard, gave it a go then thought better of it.

Person 2. After seeing some good results they opt to keep training with their trainer and listen to them.   They adhere to the nutritional protocols in the most part and enjoy their sessions in the gym.  Not only have they dropped a dress/jeans size, they surprisingly find themselves enjoying the fact that they are getting stronger within the gym and are seeing weekly progress in all of the main exercises. The back pain they may have complained of at the start has vanished, the bloated feeling that they used to get after food has disappeared and they are having the best sleep they have had in years! They become accustomed to the twice weekly sessions and are receiving some nice compliments regarding their appearance from friends and family, they may even be getting more attention from the opposite sex! These people after a period of time are most likely to start to think that even though they haven’t reached their goals quite yet, they feel like they have done pretty good so far so start to let their nutrition slip a little more frequently and despite the great sessions in the gym they start to plateau in terms of their appearance.  These are the workhorses of the world that give themselves to an ideal and stick at it but aren’t really prepared to go the full hog for some reason.  They succeed and do it in relative style but are just short of working that extra bit harder in order to be one of the few out there like person 3.

3. Now these sorts of people are the leaders in terms of self-motivating, complete transformation types.  Not only do they find that they are enjoying the hard work in the gym, but they are enjoying working hard on their nutrition. They love that they are seeing results and love having their trainer push them beyond their personal ideas of physical capabilities or boundaries.  These are the people who lose 2 stone of body fat in the short space of a few months, they are the people that completely let go when they step into the gym and trust that their trainer will give them 100% of their attention and motivation every session. They are the people that put on insane amounts of weight to their squats in a drastically short period of time or cut a huge chunk of time from their runs, or find that they are so much more explosive in their chosen sport.  Not just because they are physically able to, but because they wanted to work hard and they allowed themselves to be worked even harder by their trainer.  They find themselves being the one to motivate their friends and family to do the same despite the fact that it is completely out of character to do so.  They are inspired by their trainer and their own hard work and in doing so continue to keep pushing themselves because for them, the goal posts are ever changing.

I believe that every single person out there has the capability to allow themselves to go onto the levels that person number 3 does.  It doesn’t really come down to how capable you are, it simply comes down to how badly you want something.  This approach extends way beyond the weight room and kitchen cupboards but all boils down to one thing. Working your ass off! If you want to make a change, go find yourself a quality trainer who has had great results with other clients and who doesn’t just talk as though their ideas came from a book.  Find someone that has experience under the bar and has pushed themselves to their physical and mental limits.  Because if they haven’t experienced it for themselves, how on earth can you expect them to make you do something that they don’t truly understand.  And lastly find someone who is going to make you work hard! My clients work hard, all of them.  I hope that they are inspired to work hard when they turn up to each training session, and if they are, I work them a little harder still.  This approach has scared off potential clients before now and it is something that I am not ashamed of.  In any business, results speak for themselves and I have plenty of results walking the streets nearby.