Why your Nutrition and Programming Needs to be Personalised if you are Serious About Getting Results

Why your Nutrition and Programming Needs to be Personalised if you are Serious About Getting Results

Read time: 7 minute read

Body re-composition can be a complex, layered process. Some people respond easily and others don’t, and this is simply unavoidable. Genetics, your athletic background and your emotional/mental state play a HUGE part in this.

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I find men often respond easier than women, which comes down to hormones, as well as attitude. Women have been prayed on and taught to hate their bodies for years, and I hear it ALL the time, women saying ‘nothing works for me’, but 9/10 of those women are following generic nutrition and training plans. With the right support and programming/nutrition, transformation is definitely not impossible. The same applies to men when it comes to achieving optimal strength/nutrition

What needs to be considered though is that EVERYONE is different, and I can tell you from personal experience that if I didn’t personalize my clients meal/training programs, AT LEAST 80% of them wouldn’t have gotten any tangible results.

So, why does your programming need to be individualized?

Because you have you own experience level, weak points, strong points, levers, limb lengths, schedules, lifestyles, preferences, etc. Programming should become more difficult over time if you wish to get stronger over time. Likewise, if you follow the same program or intensity of training forever, your results will eventually halt.

I find the worst examples of ‘halt’ programs are the very generic ones such as body-pump and circuit training. You will get results at first, but after a few months you will just get/stay ‘fit’. This is fine, however if it is body re-composition, or strength development you are after you need to lift weights, and push yourself progressively harder in weight/volume/intensity in order to keep getting results. And this needs to be teed up with a good nutritional plan. The human body is like an adaptation machine.

I follow a basic template with my girls as most will have similar weaknesses (eg hips and upper back), but I then adapt this template to suit individual requirements. NONE of them are exactly the same, unless one client has the exact same circumstances as another.

Why does your food plan need to be individualised?

Because no one is the same hormonally, metabolically, physiologically, psychologically, and no one has the same history. Many fitness/nutrition businesses these days work on the following model – make three templates, hand out the closest one to the client, cross fingers, hope for the best. If it doesn’t work, scrap that person and highlight the person that it does work for. It’s more of a business model rather than a service model, but the fitness industry is a big-money business now.

Take for example the following women (and for this example, lets just assume that they are all aiming to increase muscle and decrease body-fat so they can feel good in a bikini in summer);

Client 1: Weighs 90kgs, used to suffer from bulimia, has just introduced some light training, has been predominantly inactive throughout her life, and has little or no education about the fundamentals of nutrition

Client 2: Is tall, thin and underweight, and really wants to build muscle. She has tried to in the past but just doesn’t see results, which effects her motivation

Client 3: Suffers depression, allergies and fatigue, walks 3-4 days per week, works and studies full-time, and has two children

Client 4: Is active, has always been active, had a six-pack since childhood and can eat whatever she wants, and generally remains pretty lean

There are some massive differences there, but this kind of variety is NORMAL. All of these women want to change their body composition but each require a totally different approach to their nutrition

So lets assume I give them all the same 1800-calorie meal plan, and the same program with 5 days of weights and two cardio sessions per week. Here is an example of the potential outcome for each of those clients;

Client 1: Could become overwhelmed and drop off very quickly, returning to old habits

Client 2: Will probably get through the training okay but will struggle to stick to that many calories as she will churn through them once she adds the exercise

Client 3: May struggle to find the time and energy to complete all the workouts, which will leave her feeling doubtful and defeated. The training may also add to her fatigue

Client 4: Most likely, she will breeze through, probably even go off the plan here and there because she’s looking good and feeling confident. This is what you call a high-responding client.

So as you can see in that situation, one of these clients has succeeded and the rest aren’t too happy. Which is why they need to be taken care of individually, which takes effort on the part of your coach, but you shouldn’t be expecting anything less.

If you are just aiming to improve your health and overall wellbeing, then a generalized plan will most often suit. These plans are often much cheaper and also serve as a good starting/introductory point.

However, if you have specific goals and you feel like there are a few ‘layers’ that you will need to work through, then you may need support and no matter who you hire for the job, make sure what they write up for you is ESPECIALLY FOR YOU – an individualised plan with a long-term goal in mind

Jen 🙂

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!


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Why Your Food Choices Matter

Why Your Food Choices Matter

Read time: 5 minute read

People in the fitness industry always seem to be debating over the relevance of ‘clean’ foods for training and weight loss goals. There are a lot of people out there who don’t seem to be affected by eating rubbish, but most of the people I meet ARE affected by it.

Science suggests there is no difference between carbs from fruit and carbs from chocolate, as they are all broken down into the same organic compounds they reach your digestive tract. It’s true to a point, but it seems to me that people are starting to lose sight of the whole point of eating!

If food wasn’t meant for nutrient assimilation, then why do we eat at all? There are many nutrients that we need in order to stay healthy that our bodies DON’T make. We can only attain them from food, and recent gene-science shows that what you eat, literally BECOMES you.

The human body is made up from trillions of cells, they are the bricks that make the body healthy and build all of your tissues and organs. New cells are built and old ones die every day. New cells grow in accordance with the health state of your existing cells, which respond to their physical and emotional environment. This occurs whether the environment they are created in is healthy, or not. An unhealthy environment does not create a healthy cell. Unhealthy cells can lead to illness and disease.

So that being said, nutrition should be one of your NUMBER ONE considerations, no matter what your goals are. Most people don’t realise how many times our body renews itself, but it is renewing itself every minute of every day! This regeneration cycle occurs with individual timeframes for each part of your body;

Our liver regenerates every 5 months, our taste buds regenerate every 10 days to two weeks and our hearts, about every 20 years. The outer surface of our lungs regenerate every 2-3 weeks, and the alveoli (inside your lungs) regenerate in about 1 year. It takes 10 years to build a whole new skeleton, your nails take 6-10 months, and hair, 3-6 years. In 2-5 days the whole inside of your intestines will have regenerated. The surface layer of your skin takes between 2-4 weeks (although we do lose elasticity and collagen with age). Even our red blood cells (which carry oxygen to the body tissues) are regenerated every 4 months. The only part of our body which doesn’t regenerate is our brains, which is why we need to keep it busy, especially when ageing

So if you want to regain control of your health keep in mind that in each persons’ average lifetime, almost every part of your body will be renewed at least three times. YOU WILL LITERALLY BECOME A WHOLE NEW PERSON. So it’s never too late to begin healthy habits, and reverse unhealthy ones.

Your diet, lifestyle and mindset will affect the health of each and every new cell your body produces. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy empty-calorie treats from time to time (as that is called BALANCE, and we all need it), but it does mean that the majority of your meals should be nutritious in order for your body to stay healthy

Just something to think about







Transformation is yours for the taking. 

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