9 Benefits to Bodybuilding That Are Rarely Talked About

9 Benefits to Bodybuilding That Are Rarely Talked About

Read time: 4 minute read

Quite often i read posts that complain about bodybuilding competitions, usually from ex-competitors who didn’t enjoy it for one reason or another, or from people who don’t have much knowledge or experience in the sport. Recently I saw a study connecting it to Narcissism! Whilst this is true for some people, its far from true for the women i work with.

Personally I love bodybuilding and I think much can be gained and learned in the process of stepping onstage. So, I thought it was about time to put out some of the GREAT things about competing. When done properly the benefits far outweigh the ‘negatives’. So these are the reasons I love training women for competition;

1/ It can help to improve your body image and self-esteem 

This one is massive, which is why i put it first. Truth be told, it could flip either way, but that completely depends on your mindset. If you compete with the intention of seeing what you are capable of, and bringing YOUR best body forward, you will walk away feeling pretty amazing about your achievements. Going into it with the intention of winning, or looking like someone else will leave you feeling completely the opposite. Competing can be a really great way of learning to love and appreciate your body for what it is, in a whole new way.

2/ It teaches you about what your body needs and how healthy it is

When you compete, it is crucial that you are on a healthy eating plan. IIFYM works for some, but not most women. Your body stores fat out of stress, so if your organs aren’t healthy, if your mindset isn’t right, you will have toxins running through your system and hit a few roadblocks along the way to losing body-fat. This may sound ‘bad’, but overcoming these obstacles will improve your overall health, leaving you with a clean slate to work with in the future once you’re done

3/ It shows you what it feels like to be running on good fuel

When right in the middle of your prep, if you are doing it properly (i.e. not starving yourself or smashing yourself on cardio), then you will reach a point where you feel ridiculously healthy, light, and clear-minded. It really teaches you what optimal health feels like, and it’s pretty eye-opening. It gives you something to strive for in everyday life as you will have a new baseline goal from there-on out.

4/ It teaches you some insane will-power

Competing makes you realise how much of our lives revolve around food and drink. Its your birthday? have some cake. Just got a promotion? Go out for drinks. Feeling sad? Go buy a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and sit in bed eating the whole tub. Getting through these situations without ‘caving in’ gives you a chance to actually reflect on these habits which leaves you feeling strong, empowered and in control.

5/ It brings your vulnerabilities to the surface so you can understand yourself better

Competing also makes you realise how much food and drink is used as a way of stuffing down your emotions. This is a pretty big one. Many women have an emotional connection to food, and when feeling low, we overindulge. When you are competing and you don’t squash your feelings down with food, it forces you to learn to understand yourself better – your patterns, your insecurities, and your vulnerabilities. The more you know yourself, the stronger you will be both inside and out.

6/ When you step off stage, you feel like you could conquer anything 

Usually when you set this goal of competing, you aren’t 100% sure if you will be able to do it. You are also not aware of the challenging journey ahead until you’re right in the middle of it. Once you get off that stage, and you think back about all the obstacles you had to overcome to achieve it, you seriously feel like you can conquer anything.

7/ You get to wear sparkly things and essentially, perform on stage 

This one is superficial but, its one of the reasons I did it. If you have a dance background, you love to perform, and you LOVE going to the gym, this is an awesome way to express yourself and all your hard work in the most feminine way.

8/ You can make great friends

If you find yourself in a great team, you will make friends for life. You share struggles and triumphs and these are the key to building great friendships. Most of the people competing will have the same motivations as you; self-improvements, empowerment, a love for good food and physical fitness. Who doesn’t want friends like that??

9/ It’s practically an art-form – a way of expressing yourself

So this one is why i did it. I am creative by nature and i loved the idea of using the body as a canvas and sculpting it how i wanted it to be. So, it’s art. Weight lifting has countless benefits, and being able to create a shape you love can seriously improve your body-confidence and self-expression.

So there you have it. This isn’t to say that I don’t think there are a lot of things that could be improved, things that could go wrong, or that there aren’t certain things to be considered before you take the leap, but that is a different post altogether. The trick to making it a great experience is to find the right guidance and a good team fit for you. Then you will walk away from the experience a happier, stronger, and more empowered woman

Jen 🙂

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Changing those Habits that are Holding you Back

Changing those Habits that are Holding you Back

Read time: 4 minute read

‘What you resist, persists’ – Carl Jung

Everything that goes on in our life stems from the things that we think about, and every decision we make has more power if it is backed with a positive intention.

Generally when we set out to ‘quit’ something, its because its something that we cannot stop, and we know it is bad for us. So we decide we are going to avoid it at all costs, and in doing that we are setting a negative intention from the start. In the sense of nutrition, saying ‘I will not eat sugar’ or ‘I will resist junk food’ is most often counterproductive as it sets your mind on a cycle of thinking about what you DON’T want.

Over the years I have quit heaps of things from junk food to toxic relationships, negative thinking cycles, drinking and binge eating (as have many other women that I work with), and despite what felt like thousands of attempts to put a stop to these behaviours overnight with a simple ‘I will not’, NONE of those things changed without a positive intention, or a change of behaviour in a positive direction

For example, after over-restricting my calories and training twice a day in an attempt to lose weight, I would then (out of under-nourishment and starvation) hit the shops and purchase ALL the foods (even some that I didn’t really even like), and eat them with absolutely no self-control.

Then what happened after? I felt like a failure, I would get angry at myself, and then eventually I would repeat the cycle. It’s a very negative cycle to be caught up in but I see it all the time with many of the women I work with

So here’s a few things to think about if you’re trying to change your habits for the better; 

1/ Focus your energy on starting the new

Forming new habits, new relationships, and new thoughts. So in the case of junk food, instead of thinking ‘don’t eat sugar’ think about eating nourishing foods instead, and enough of it that you don’t need the junk food 

2/ Try to reflect on the things you are addicted to, and ask yourself ‘why’?

Is it emotional? Are you undernourished? Are you stressed? Most of our addictive behaviours are comforts, or distractions from the struggles of everyday life, and once you pinpoint the reason you can start to work on the root cause, and the result is that the addiction eventually stops. Lack of nutrition is most often the cause of overeating and bingeing 

3/ Once you have put these new habits in place, understand you may go off-track a bit, and it’s completely normal

When it happens, don’t give it any power, understand that everything you have done thus far has been a step in the right direction, further than you have gone before, and get back on track. With positive intentions you will get there a lot faster

It’s always better to focus on the positive, otherwise a lot of energy is being wasted trying to change things that are outside your control, and that’s especially when it comes to food as no matter how much you try and resist something it won’t stop the companies who created it from dropping in right in front of your face (aka advertising). So as the saying says, what you resist, persists. 

In conclusion, If you want to live a healthy and happy life it’s so important to reflect on your addictive behaviours and then make positive changes rather than creating do-or-die scenarios in your head that you struggle to stick to, and leave you feeling like a failure!

Jen ☺

Breaking the Weight Loss/Regain Cycle

Breaking the Weight Loss/Regain Cycle

Read time: 7 minute read

 
Did you know that 95% of people who follow a diet plan fail to maintain long-term results? Did you know that your body has physiological mechanisms that kick into gear (in preparation for weight gain) every time you push yourself through a drastic weight-loss regime?

A couple of months ago I did a nutrition seminar and used this diagram to address a common cycle associated with weight loss/regain. I was stuck in for years until my body literally collapsed on me, and its way too common especially amongst women. Obviously this is a complex process but I have kept it pretty simple, and it goes a little like this;

1: Excited for new fitness goals, you begin a new program

Everyone who trains is familiar with that buzz of energy you get from new fitness goals, and when you have your new program in your hot little hands. Practically anyone can generate the energy required to perform even the most ridiculous training/nutrition regimes, if the desire to achieve the end result is strong enough.

2: The program is flawed

Most often this is because you are either not eating enough, or you are overtraining for your level of conditioning (or both). I have seen programs that give beginners double sessions, diets with no carbs, ridiculously low calories, poor nutrient/food variety, and given this industry is extremely unregulated its pretty much an ‘anything goes’ situation in some cases. There are also some very well-known online programs that involve massive training loads and very low calories, and are labeled as a ‘lifestyle’. This is fine for short periods of time, but in the long run it can catch up with you

3: Exhaustion and cravings creep in, and hormones start to be disrupted (along with other physiological changes)

Once your body is depleted, like for instance you don’t have enough energy stores in the muscle to continue the training load, or your calories are so low that your body is suffering from starvation, then you will start to crave junk food. Your can find yourself absolutely OBSESSED with food. This can happen at the tail-end of competition prep, but it definitely shouldn’t be happening with long-term lifestyle transformation goals. When this occurs, it’s a sure-fire sign that your body is laying down some foundations for fat-gain. This is simply biology

4: You have a physical or emotional breakdown

This is the part where you have held off food cravings for as long as you can, but suddenly its like you’re possessed and you hit up the supermarket, eating everything in sight. I have done this in the past so I am not judging! This can happen if your body is too depleted. You may find your workouts starting to suffer, your sleep disrupted, or you might start crying for no reason. These are all sure signs that you are trapped in this cycle

5: You end up bingeing, quit the program, and feel like a failure

Based on the occurrences above, you feel like a failure. Most women have an ingrained tendency to blame themselves for falling of the program. This is especially bad if you have done it time and time again. It is normal, and it is not your fault, it is your physiology fighting for its health and it will always win in the end if you try and fight against it. Most often before you gain the motivation to start a new program, you have more body-fat to lose than when you started the previous one.

So, how do you break his cycle? Here are a few suggestions…

Be realistic: About what to expect, what your goals are, what is possible for you, where you are at physically. If you aren’t naturally lean then you can’t expect to change that in a short period of time. If you have never eaten healthy food then you cant expect to eat perfectly overnight. If you have never been active then you cannot take on an advanced training program. This could almost replace number two as realistic expectations can throw anyone off, even if they are on a perfectly designed plan. So, sort your expectations out before you start

Hire a coach, but do your research: Speak to others who have worked with them (whom you trust). Doesn’t matter if you go with a Dietician, a PT, a Health Coach or whatever, all that matters is that you ask them questions; what is their long-term plan for you? What do they suggest is realistic for you? If you are competing, then what is the plan after you have stepped on stage? If you are looking for long-term changes then is this a program you will be able to sustain? Are you being treated as an individual, or receiving the same plan as everyone else? Make sure the professional you choose to work with is interested in your health, especially if you know nothing about it yourself. Any good/experienced health professional knows what is healthy and what is not.

Understand that the ‘go hard or go home’ approach may not be for you: You can get great results by training 5 days a week and eating lots of carbs. Your calories don’t need to be non-existent to achieve a dramatic result. But you need to be patient. Training like a machine when you are not one, will only lead to disaster. Take your time, and listen to your body.

Listen to your body: If your goal is long term result maintenance, then you need to listen to your body to see if what you are doing is healthy. If you’re struggling with fatigue and cravings, and this is overshadowing the results you are getting, and if your mood is fluctuating more than normal, if you can’t sleep properly, then you need to address this before you continue

Take a long-term approach: Weight loss and body transformation is a SLOW process, it needs to be maintainable, healthy, and a lifestyle change in order for the results to stick long-term. Weight loss industries make incredible amounts of money off our desire to achieve things overnight. The only thing you can do to take your power back is understand that there are no quick fixes. So, make it a lifestyle, and one that you enjoy. THIS IS A MUST

Check your idols: A lot of the athletes that my clients look up do (as do I) are not ‘natural’. There is nothing wrong with this, and lets be honest, they are pretty inspirational to any gym-goer. Just keep in mind that athletes who take additional supplements will often not suffer the same consequences of high training loads, and they will gain muscle faster. Just keep this in mind and don’t let comparison get you down.

Hope that helps!

Jen.

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Finding your Inner Strength through Body Transformation

Finding your Inner Strength through Body Transformation

Read time: 8 minute read

Everyone who embarks on a health/lifestyle transformation has one common goal; to become a healthier, happier and stronger version of themselves. There are many choices you need to make along the way when it comes to nutrition, training and mindset that can either make it a journey full of strength and empowerment, or one that can be filled with feelings of disappointment and self-defeat. Here are some tips I learned along my journey, and through other womens journeys, that may help you stay on the path of true strength and empowerment…

1/ Assess whether your goals are realistic or not

This one is make-or-break. Behaviours such as believing everything you see on social media, expecting someone to have the ‘secret’, or using crash-diets as solutions to long-term weight struggles, are health and fitness myths that can lead you down a negative path. Empowered approach: Understand that the world is out to make money! Companies will say anything to get you to buy their products. Your goals however (no matter how big or small), are achievable, if approached in the right way. There are many amazing people in the health and fitness industry that are experienced, realistic and honest. My suggestion is to find a professional, talk to anyone you know and TRUST that has transformed and inspired you, and ask them for their personal perspective on their own journey. Realistic expectations will always serve you in the long run


2/ Focus on the inner wins, not just the physical

Thinking that changing your body is going to make you happier is a disillusion like no other. If your happiness is compromised you tend to want to blame something, and in a world fueled by media’s idea of a ‘perfect woman’, we can often get caught up in thinking its our body that is the culprit. I can tell you from experience that getting ‘hot’ will not make you happy all by itself. Empowered approach: Understand that the way your body looks is quite often a mixture of your genetics and your emotional state. Personally I think body transformation is one of the most empowering things you can do, but its not the end resulting ‘body’ that brings you happiness, but rather the improved nutrition, regular exercise, nervous system adaptations, improved sleep, and your newly-refined rubbish-behaviour-in-your-friends detector (a.k.a your ability to see who wants to see you happy and who wants to see you fail), that gives you this feeling of inner happiness. Buying smaller clothes is great, but it’s truly an afterthought once you have made these changes in your life.

3/ Approach the switch from unhealthy to healthy gradually, and be patient!

Thinking that you can go from an unhealthy lifestyle to one full of nourishment can be unrealistic and disempowering. It can often leave you putting too many restraints on yourself and as saying goes ‘what you resist, persists.’ Once the persistence becomes too much and you ‘cave’, you are likely to be left feeling as if you cannot achieve your goal, and that you are not good enough. Empowered approach: You can, however, change it gradually and even the smallest of changes will lead to positive outcomes. Most often if your lifestyle isn’t optimal then it’s because either you were never taught it, or something has happened in your life that sent you down a less-healthy path. The trick here is not to judge yourself. The first part of lifestyle change is deciding to change, and you have to give yourself the respect you deserve to change it slowly. Think something along the lines of; ‘in 12 months I will be eating healthy at least 90% of the time and exercising 4 days a week’. Then come up with a realistic path to follow that will lead you there. If you ‘slip up’, laugh at yourself, recognize that it’s a part of you that you are ready and willing to let go of – IN TIME – and keep moving forward.

4/ Try to avoid focusing on the scales

Getting caught up in your weight will have you feeling you aren’t getting anywhere. You can gain 5kgs of muscle and lose 5kgs of fat, but you’re still going to weigh the same, so relying on that can take away your power and leave you feeling like you’re not achieving what you want. Empowered approach: If your goal is body transformation or weight-loss, use measurements and photos and appreciate all the little changes along the way. Also remember (as mentioned above) that most of the changes will be ones that have NOTHING to do with your physical appearance, so don’t overlook them.

5/ Avoid comparing yourself to others

Self-comparison is a self-growth killer. Aiming to transform into a replica of your favorite fitness model feels empowering to begin with, but becomes disempowering in the long-run when reality hits and you realise what it takes to achieve the look you’re after. Empowered approach: Keep in mind that you are unique and beautiful in every way before you even begin, and you are just embarking on a journey to a stronger, fitter and healthier you. We all have a unique physical structure which cannot be changed. Sure, someone can inspire you, but at the end of the day your power comes from owning your own space in the world. Use the CONCEPT of an image to inspire you but not the exact ‘look’. This way you will feel like you have ownership of your personal journey to improve on YOURSELF, rather than feeling like your unrealistic attempts – to look like another person – aren’t working.

6/ Be mindful of social media

In terms of business, social media can be deceiving, for many it’s a marketing tool and far from honest and trustworthy. Phone editing is easy to do now and no-one mentions what is really going on behind-the-scenes to achieve the bodies that they are using in exchange for money. You also never really know what, or who, is behind each account. In terms of your personal use, relying on likes or followers to validate you can be disempowering and leave you questioning weather your efforts (which you were pleased with before you posted them) are anything special. Empowered approach: I definitely see nothing wrong with social media if you focus on its positives, being that it’s a place of sharing and inspiration. But you have to see through the crap and be realistic. Some people have thousands of followers and have no idea what they are doing, and some have next-to-no followers and are AMAZING at what they do. I have had clients who have had abs since childhood and some that are meticulous with diet and exercise who have never had them. Abs don’t always equal expertise. So, use social media to inspire you to change and if your are detached from the outcome then go ahead and share, but don’t allow the result to leave you feeling doubtful about your own journey, and keep in mind that if something seems to good to be true, it usually is.

The biggest take-away here really is just to always keep in mind that transformation takes time in ANY discipline. There is much to be gained from changing your lifestyle for the better, but true empowerment comes from a healthy and realistic attitude, respecting yourself and your individual journey, having integrity, and staying true to yourself!

Jen

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8 Ways to Live to 100 – Tips from the Healthiest People in the World

8 Ways to Live to 100 – Tips from the Healthiest People in the World

 Read time: 5 minute read

The most interested part about it is how simple it is! Here are 8 things we can learn from them;

1/ None of the food is genetically altered or artificial

Nothing really needs to be said here. Organic, locally grown food contains more nutrients than processed food. Their food also tends to be higher in antioxidants and phytochemicals as it is grown on the equator, which means their fruits and vegetables require more protection from sun damage

2/  A truly holistic approach to medicine is used

The Okinawans’ modify their diets to suit their current health conditions. When unwell, they use a combination of shamanic methods and western principles, which means they focus on alleviating the symptoms and identifying the root cause of the illness from the start. They don’t bandaid illness with drugs, but they rather fix the problem.

3/ Foods are only eaten in the season that they naturally grow

This ensures variety in the diet and that foods are eaten whilst at their most nutritious. Eating the same foods every day, all year round, can create intolerances, inflammation, and also means you are eating foods with decreased quality

4/ The diet is high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains

Sorry to all the Paleo lovers, the Okinawans’ diet consists of 70% whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and 30% animal proteins. They eat up to 10 servings of vegetables per day, and are known for eating crazy amounts of sweet potato. Most of their animal products are fresh and locally sourced, with fish consumed them most. Grains are not excluded from the diet, but eaten in their purest form

5/ Vegetables are steamed and not eaten raw

Despite what all the Raw ‘foodies’ say, not all foods are best eaten raw. Some vegetables such as kale, spinach, mushrooms, and carrots are better eaten cooked as more nutrients are unlocked during the cooking process. They focus on eating every food in its most nutritious and beneficial state

6/ Green tea is consumed in high amounts

Green tea has many proven benefits from improving brain function, to burning fat, decreasing inflammation, protecting your brain, and killing off bacteria. It has even been suggested that it has cancer-fighting properties, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They drink organic, locally green tea, not processed tea leaves that have been sprayed with green-tea flavouring (and yes, it is common practice for our teas to be sprayed and not actually containing any of the nutrients claimed on the packets)

7/ Exercise is crucial 

The Okinawans’ do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity exercise daily, and they most often do it in groups. Common activites are martial arts, tai chi, yoga and dance. All of these disciplines are primarily aimed at connecting the mind and body

8/ Community is important in keeping spirits high 

They have a tight-knit community, spending a lot of time together with board games, gardening and sports. Elders are respected and in charge of the community, ensuring that the wisdom is passed-down to the younger members of the community. Humans beings need connection to others in order to remain health, and this is a studied fact in psychology.

I think its really interesting as their lifestyle supports both emotional and physical health. You can’t have wellness if you don’t have a balance. I think we can all learn a lot from the Okinawa people!

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

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