5 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results in the Gym

5 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results in the Gym

Read time: 7 minute read

Spinning you wheels and not getting the results you seek in the gym or your lifestyle routine? If so, you are not alone, so I thought I would dedicate this post to all the ladies out there who are busting their butts but can’t work out what’s missing!

Essentially, results come from consistency, adequate training with progressive overload and plenty of recovery, and for most people, really good nutrition.

Let’s start with the first, consistency.

 

  1. You’re not consistent enough

Consistency is key, and the main reason results fall short. This probably comes more under ‘mindset’ but without it, you can’t get results. Building a body is a long-term endeavour, it can’t be fast-tracked or skipped, you just eat and train, train and eat, and be patient.

All professional bodybuilders can attest to the time and dedication it takes to build a physique, particularly one that turns heads. On the plus side though, a body built over the long term is something you get to walk around in.

The reason people fall short on consistency is because they chase the fads – fasting, no carbs, double workouts, HIIT sessions. These things have benefits yes, but when it comes to the long-term results, eating well, and eating a lot of good food, daily and consistently and pairing this with a solid weight training regime is the only way.

There are outliers, yes, those who do this kind of thing and look great, but this is not why they look great. If they look good with these methods it’s their genetics that have allowed it.

 

  1. You’re following poor programming, or have poor program balance

Training should always be a strength-based development program with cardio as a ‘topper’. Cardio should never be the focus – including HIIT. This is not the way to build a strong, lean physique.

Programming should be progressive and not random, so you need to follow a program which is within your capabilities and where you aim to increase strength in each exercise over a period of time. The program that follows that will be more challenging in either exercise order, volume, load or all three, but it won’t be completely different from the first one if your focus is to get results.

I believe the ideal time period for a program is 8 weeks if you’re in the first year of training, as you can progress a lot more quickly within that first year. I even do 4-week blocks for brand new clients. Once established and stronger all over, I find 12-weeks to be a great time-frame to commit to each program.

If you break it down over 12 weeks, it takes around 2-4 weeks to find the ideal weight and learn a new exercise, and then 8-10 weeks following that to really push your capabilities with those exercises. Just as you start to get bored or plateau, it’s time to change in up. This is where patience comes in, changing your program all the time because you’re ‘bored’ or ‘impatient’ will only hinder your long-term progress.

 

  1. Inadequate nutrition

Changes in body composition are even more dependent on food intake than training. If you don’t eat enough you will have inadequate nutrition to recover and build muscle from your sessions, but if you eat too much you will gain body-fat.

You also need to determine what kind of constitution you have – can you handle dairy, processed foods, gluten and wheat, or not? For some people, a whole-foods diet is essential for progress but for others they can be more flexible. You need to work out where you fit here and stick within reasonable boundaries if you want your body to respond positively.

I always try to get my clients eating as much food as they can, whilst still feeling good, and not gaining body-fat. For some women this is 1700 calories, and for others it’s 2300. Everyone is different and unique differences are uncovered not with a calculator, but with consistent tracking, patience, and check-ins where we look at weight, measurements, photos, and strength progression.

This applies even when dieting – you want as much food as you can get away with, and you don’t want to be eliminating food groups unless your body tells you they need to go (and there are professional ways to approach this).

 

  1. Improper technique

Back to training – you can’t build a physique if you don’t have good technique.

I get that is feels good to enter a gym in your first week and put a 60kg barbell on your back, but if you’re not doing it properly all you’re doing is ‘impressing’ the people around you whom also have no idea and sabotaging your results in the long term.

Most women don’t naturally have the structure for weight training, they need to build it. This means developing the glutes, hamstrings, abs and back muscles to a point where your posture is sound, and those muscles are working just as hard as (or harder than), the muscles that are naturally developed like the quads and traps. See my post on the posterior chain here, to dive a little deeper into that.

Some women take 12+ months before they can squat 60kg, and others take 3 months. Some need to do months of mobility and postural correction whereas others need minimal. If you want to learn good technique, you need to hire an experienced professional. Just because someone has a gym or 300K followers on Instagram does not indicate experience – it indicates cash in hand and time spend on their phone, posting things that trend and interacting with other accounts.

Research someone’s history and understand the industry is very new, and the more years spent mastering their craft, the more you’re going to get for your money. The overall point here is, good technique will have you burning more calories, and building way more overall muscle (in all the right places) than poor technique will. So don’t skip the fundamentals and again, be patient.

 

  1. You are training too much!

Lastly here we have over-training. It is not that common to over-train in a way that is damaging for athletic performance but it does happen, particularly when there is poor programming or if you aren’t eating enough to fuel your activity.

Where I find it most common is amongst gym people who are trying to change their body composition. Doing ‘more’ is not always the answer. Well, it’s rarely the answer. It is crucial to choose an exercise load that your body can handle, and that you are nourishing for. If you eat as little as you can, and train as much as you can in the hopes that this will ‘speed up’ progress, you are misinformed.

My philosophy with my clientele is always to give them as much food as possible, and as little training as possible, that is needed to get results. I never through extra training in, particularly cardio, in the hopes that they will get more out of it as this just isn’t the case Long story short, over-training can leave you falling behind on your goals and it just isn’t worth it.

 

What to do if you’re doing any of these things…

Stop. Reset. Restructure your approach. Seek professional help if you must but avoid continuing down a path that isn’t working well for you! Send me an email if you want more information about any of these topics.

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Female Training

Jen x

Simple Nutrition Tips for Long-Lasting Results

Simple Nutrition Tips for Long-Lasting Results

Read time: 15 minute read

Over the past 10 years of coaching women in weight loss and body transformation, I see the same mistakes being made over and over again. In todays post you’ll find 5 fundamental nutritional principles that can’t be avoided if you want long-lasting results.

You may have never heard of them, as in 2020 we live amongst a sea of misguided, unregulated, sales-oriented miss-information. Especially in the nutrition space. Accurate information is often overlooked as it doesn’t grab attention like a quick-fix does. We get addicted to extremes and to thinking that in order to make progress we need to go ‘all out’. But guess what? You don’t.

These fundamental principles are really all you need to get started, and I apply them to every client I work with. 

 

1: EAT MORE FOOD, AND EAT OFTEN

I have met only a handful of women over the years who were eating even close to the right amount of calories for their fat loss goals. On average, numbers range from 1100-1500 calories per day, and often with a couple of 2700 calorie days thrown in there. 

Women generally believe that the less they eat, the better their results will be. What they don’t factor in is their body’s physiological needs, most importantly a need for safety, and a need to reproduce. Safe bodies can make babies, unsafe bodies cannot. A ‘safe’ body for most women, is one that has enough body-fat for hormone regulation. If your calories are too low, your body won’t feel safe, and you won’t lose weight. 

Women also fail to take into account their activity levels. Ladies, if you want to train like an athlete, you need to eat like one.

With almost all new clients, I increase the quality of food, the amount of calories eaten on a daily basis, and the size of the individual meals. Often my clients can’t finish the food in the first week, but are surprised to see weight loss at their first check in. That’s about all it takes to realise that eating more, and more often, is key. It’s also not long after that when they find themselves asking when their next calorie increase is! 

How to implement this: 

Firstly, track your food intake for 7 days, including everything you eat. A good calorie tracking app is MyFitnessPal and it’s free. Secondly, calculate your basic metabolic rate, by multiplying your weight in pounds by 12. That is the number you should be eating, on a rest day, to maintain your weight. 

Eg I am 72kg; 72 x 2.2= 158 (weight in pounds). 158 x 12 = 1896. That’s approximately how much I need to eat in a day to maintain my weight, if my metabolism is healthy. 

2: EAT MORE PROTEIN

Protein is the body’s primary building block. It plays an important role in weight management, helping your body repair and build tissue (the key one here being muscle from training). It also makes ‘dieting’ easier as it increases satiety. 

Also very importantly, adequate protein intake ensures you don’t lose too much muscle when losing fat. When you diet, and are on a calorie deficit, your body burns your fat stores, but it also taps into your muscle stores. Ensuring you have enough protein, and are lifting weights, is the best way to ensure that the majority of your weight loss comes from body fat. 

I personally recommend animal protein as a priority. It is the most anabolic, meaning your body uses it more efficiently than plant protein in building and sparing muscle. You want to eat around 1.5-2x your bodyweight per day. I personally prescribe 2x bodyweight for most clients, unless they’re not used to eating protein, or have trouble digesting it, in which case I start them off with the lower target.

How to implement this:

Track your food for 7 days (as above), and check how much protein you’re eating. Use the example below to calculate an ideal amount of protein for you. 

Eg I am 72kg; 72 x 1.5 = 108. 72 x 2 = 144. I need to eat between 108-144gms per day for best results.  

3: TRACK YOUR FOOD

 

If you’re not tracking your food intake, and you have no idea how much you’re eating, you’re kind of like a Powerlifter without a barbell. You can’t do anything

You may lose weight simply by removing large amounts of food, or food groups (such as carbs, animal products, sugar, etc), or exercising like a maniac for a period of time but once this progress stops, you have got nothing to work with. And that’s assuming you can keep the restriction up long term. 

In order to optimize your fat loss or muscle building, you need to learn how much fuel your body requires, what foods work best for you, what nutrients different foods contain, etc. The more you learn about food, and how your body uses it, the better your success will be. Body transformation is all about finding a calorie target that works for you, and then manipulating it over time. 

Don’t mistake what you see on social media with real life. ALL body transformations that stick, or involve considerable muscle gains, require consistent food tracking, followed by adjustments where necessary, followed by more consistent food tracking. This also applies to the women taking performance enhancing drugs. There are no exceptions

Food tracking is a time consuming practice, which involves planning, organizing, and making sacrifices. This is a practice that can be difficult to learn, but becomes easy over time with great reward. 

How to implement this:

Download a calorie-tracking app, such as MyFitnessPal, and start entering all your food (as above). See how much you are eating. Eat that much consistently (or using the calculation from the first point), and track your progress with weight and measurements. 

4: EAT MORE FIBRE

Fibre is a carbohydrate (‘carb’), but it is not digested in the small intestine thus it acts differently to your most-loved carbohydrate friends, starch and sugar. Starch and sugar provide us with glycogen (fuel), whereas fibre makes its way all the way to your large intestine, bulking up your stool (poo), and feeding your good bacteria. 

If you don’t eat enough fibre, not only do your good bacteria starve (and in some cases resort to eating your own gut lining), you also risk constipation, as the food in your bowel can’t move through properly. When you are constipated, your body can’t eliminate waste efficiently, thus leaving you feeling tired, bloated, and sometimes, in pain. 

How to implement this:

Include fibrous foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. A typical fibre target that works well for most people is 20-30gms per day, more if you’re heavier, and less if you’re lighter. Again, you can track this on a calorie app. 

5: EAT MORE VARIETY 

When I came up in the bodybuilding world, there was a lot of emphasis on eating ‘clean’. Specifically, our diets consisted of, and were limited to, the following foods; beef, chicken, fish, eggs, oats, rice, sweet potato, rice cakes, apples, broccoli, peanut butter, whey protein, and Udo’s oil (a horrid tasting omega 3-6-9 fatty-acid blend). All other foods were ‘bad’. 

I basically choke of the thought of eating like that again, and also cannot believe we were that stupid, as it turns out you can achieve amazing results, and in most cases better results (if you factor in health, vibrancy, and sustainability), by eating almost any food, provided that, you can track it (point 3). 

These ‘clean’ diets work well because there is little variation, thus getting to peak condition (lowest body-fat possible for you) is easier. However, this is not an approach that’s required for your every day competitor, or a woman who just wants to get the most out of her body. 

The negative side of ‘clean’ eating, is it’s hard to maintain, it’s socially isolating, and falls short nutritionally in the long run. For my friends and I who ate that way, relentless cravings for other foods lead to binge eating, and punishing ourselves for eating ‘non-optimal’ foods (I’m talking things like strawberries and avocados). So, this kind of eating comes a set of problems. 

I have never recommended this kind of strict approach (with the exception of two or three week periods, right before a competition for my clients with more stubborn bodies), though many coaches still do as it’s the bodybuilding way. I am strict on the total calories and macronutrients, but not their source. I have had countless clients make it to the comp stage, and win, without adopting this kind of strict ‘clean food’ eating regimen. Variety is key in long-term success. 

How to implement this:

Eat a variety of foods. When it comes to meats, mix it up, eat the rainbow when it comes to vegetables and fruits, understand that different foods come with different nutritional profiles. If you love chocolate, include it. If you love ice cream, include that too. SO LONG as your macros/calories are accounted for, you will still lose body fat. 

So that’s it ladies, my top 5 nutritional tips. Notice that supplements, fad diets, intermittent fasting, and heavy calorie/nutrient restriction, don’t make an appearance here. They aren’t required, nor are they healthy and sustainable long term. 

If you want me to expand further on any of these points in upcoming posts, let me know!

For nutritional consultations, contact me for more information 🙂

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Nutrition

Jen x

ALDI’s is Going Organic

ALDI’s is Going Organic

Read time: 4 minute read

So apparently Aldi’s is going organic

This is awesome. I often tell people who aren’t ready to follow eating guidelines to make one simple change – to either buy their groceries from the farmers market, or if they don’t want to get up on the weekend and do that (as they usually close up around 1030-11am), then buy as much as possible from Aldi’s. The reason being, European sourced foods are often lower in additives, genetically modified ingredients and pesticide.

When I was in Europe in 2013, it opened my eyes to a lot of things food-related. In Australia I was unable to eat coconut, berries, dairy or gluten without having an allergic reaction, but over there I was able to eat almost everything without any adverse effects. It was the EXACT SAME FOOD, but clearly something about it was different. And on top of that, I learned what berries ACTUALLY tasted like. They taste a lot better over there than they do over here.

Fast-forward to 2016 and Aldi’s has announced that they are going to do two things; start introducing less processed foods, and change the product placement of health foods to better serve the consumer. This means they are increasing the amount of fresh and organic food they’re stocking, as well as introducing healthier snack options.

In the US it has been stated that they are increasing the sales of organic fresh meat, removing products with synthetic colours and MSG, ensuring all diary is free of artificial growth hormone and increasing their gluten-free and health-based food and snack range. I have seen signs in Australian stores making similar statements of their plans for the future.

Another store I found in Europe (that I wish was in Australia) was Whole Foods. While in America this year, given I have a history of food allergy, I bought most of my food from there including breakfast, snacks, and sometimes meals from the buffet, and I had one or two meals in a cafe/restaurant each day. Most people say they don’t feel too great after travelling in the US. I personally didn’t feel unwell once, and although I ate a bucket-load of calories, I actually lost weight in the process.

It is said that Aldi’s fresh food move may even rival Whole Foods. Which doesn’t mean much for us as we don’t have access to Whole Foods, but it will make healthier options more easily available for us, and cheaper too.

Obviously for those who don’t struggle with illness or excess body-fat, this won’t mean much to you. But if it does, then I would suggest keeping your eye out on your local Aldi’s store and consider buying some of your produce from there

Nutrients are required for your health. They are extracted in your gut from whole foods. Not fake foods. Fake foods give you calories, but no nutrients!

Fat vs Muscle – Which Weighs More?

Fat vs Muscle – Which Weighs More?

Read time: 2 minute read

Trying to lose weight? Here are a few examples of why you need to monitor your progress with more than just checking the scales, ESPECIALLY when weight training

When it comes to body composition it’s important to note the difference between the density and appearance of fat and muscle. 1kg of fat is soft, lumpy and sits right under the skin, and it takes up more space on the body as 1kg of muscle, which is tightly packed and close to the bone.

I get the women I work with to take measurements along the way as well and pictures and bodyweight, as your weight will fluctuate constantly throughout the process. When it does, it can seriously mess with your head! You also want to build and/or maintain as much muscle as possible in the process, so measurements and visual changes are more significant than scale weight

So here are some of the girls results over the past 8 weeks just as an example – you can see that the ‘cms’ lost are a lot higher than you would think for the ‘kgs’ lost. You can also see that one girl has actually ‘gained’ weight

2.2kg lost > 20cm down, 4.5kg lost > 34cm down, 1.8kg lost > 20cm down, 4.5kg lost > 34cm down, 4.1kg lost > 35cm down, 2.5kg lost > 19cm down, 3.1kg lost > 22cm down, 700gms gained > 15cm down, 2kg lost > 14.5cm down, 4kg lost > 23.5cm down

Preserving muscle and strength is achieved by keeping a good balance between training and calorie consumption, and it will also leave you with more sustainable changes in the long run

*Please note that the attached image is not an EXACT representation of size, it is merely being used as an example

Self Belief and Goal Setting

Self Belief and Goal Setting

Read time: 2 minute read

Positive thinking evokes more energy, more initiative, more happiness.

It is said that whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. Why is it so important to understand this when trying to achieve your goals??

Put simply, everything that you believe is what happens to you. If you believe you can’t achieve something, you’ll find reasons why you can’t. If you believe you can achieve something, you’ll find things that reassure you that you can.

Believing you can’t do something is negative, and believing you can is positive. Positive beliefs bring positive energy, people, feelings and reassurance. It gives you the focus and determination to keep going.

So, if you find yourself struggling to start, or remain consistent on your fitness journey (or any other goal you’ve set for yourself), then look inside yourself and see what you truly believe deep down. Do you believe you can achieve it? Or does it feel like the goal you’ve set is too far out of reach? If so, then your goal setting is the first thing you need to work on.

Maybe your goal is so big in the beginning that you can’t imagine yourself reaching it, so you need to break it down into smaller, achievable pieces in order to bring about the natural belief that you can get there. You want your goal to inspire you, but not overwhelm you.

If you believe something is impossible, you will make it impossible. So it’s really quite simple, if deep down you know you can achieve something, then you definitely will

 

 

 

 

 

Transformation is yours for the taking. 

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