Return of the Jen!

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Guess who’s back, back again, it’s the return of the Jen so tell your friends lollllll!!! Well hello there to you all.  Finally giving my blog some well deserved time! Yes it has been a while, over 2 months since I updated my blog, shame on me I know. But if you have been keeping up with me on my daily life through my snapchat @jenser01  you will know that it has been a very busy couple of months!

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I know, no excuse I hear you all say , yes maybe I could have arranged my time better and blogged a little more but hey I am only human trying to juggle so much around. So here is a quick update as to what I have been up to!

Firstly I have completed my Gym Instructor course and I am officially a Gym Instructor! So first step on the ladder to building my career in the health and fitness industry.  I am so thrilled and lucky that I am putting what I learned into practice around in my local Community Centre where I have being working as a receptionist.  I am doing some work experience there, and last week I completed my first official gym programme.  Yes I was scared and worried, was feeling anxious before my client arrived but you gotta face your fears!! I’m delighted to report that it was a success, I got some really great feedback which boosted my confidence. Plus the manager has now offered me a chance to help out with the Bootcamp classes to gain more experience and wait for it I get paid!!! RESULT !!

Education wise, I am always learning and investing in myself. I am currently doing 2 online courses, a diploma in both Digital Marketing and Sports Nutrition.  Both these courses as you can imagine are time consuming but I know that it will all be worth it in the end! I have plans and goals for the near future so watch this space.

Aside from all of that let’s get back to the main one, my journey to the stage.  Over the last couple of months training has doubled, fasted cardio sessions, tough training sessions 6 days a week , a lot of sweat, time and aching from head to toe , but you gotta keep pushing through!  In these final weeks I have weight sessions along with cardio sessions twice a day 4 times a week plus 2 leg day session, so the body is getting a bashing to say the least! I practically live in the gym, but thankfully my sons understand and don’t mind looking after themselves at the moment!! But they do miss their mammy’s baking lol!! Just don’t have the time at the moment.   I also got to see my hard earned gains with my first public posing session!! Amazing what some false tan can do! Still have to keep practicing it’s actually harder than it looks but I am pleasantly surprised at how comfortable my posing shoes are, when you practically live in trainers you forget what it’s like to wear heels!! Then with 5 weeks to go to the show my coach left the job, so it was like oh what am I gonna do now, was so upset and on the verge of just quitting but no I soon gave myself a kick on the behind and got over that one.

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I did get to have a little fun and break away from all the training when the lovely Denise from @pelodolls, check out her Instagram here,  invited me to the Salon in Newbridge for a Boho blowdry!! It was such a great day spending time away from the daily grind with Denise and all the fantastic staff there and of course who else was there none other than the fantastic Nicola a.k.a @thenakedblondie, check out her Instagram here .  Spending time with such positive, beautiful  and inspirational women was just fantastic. So thank you so much girls #girlbosses !!

Moving on,  with just under 3 weeks to go before I step up on that stage, I am mentally in the game and I am giving my training 110%.  The hardest part for me is the strict food plan but hey I love chicken, rice and broccoli!! For someone who loves food, having limited ingredients is tough but I do try to be imaginative with my eggs, rice, chicken and greens! Check out my recent Instagram posts here , or Facebook here to see what I create! Through sheer hard work, determination, sweat and tears I am seeing some great results and progress.  I have dropped a whopping 8% body fat in 8 weeks, got some more booty gains and my waist has dropped by 2 inches! All naturally no fat burners here!! That is something I am so proud of as I am a firm believer that you can get so much from just eating the right foods and training hard.

Anyway that’s a quick update, well done and a big thanks too if you have read this far!! I know bit of a long post but I have being missing in action here!! I promise to get back to regular posting and anything you guys would like me to address please don’t hesitate to contact me through any of my social media platforms .

Finally just a massive THANK YOU to you guys, I am overwhelmed with the daily support , it means so much to me and I am truly grateful.  You really don’t know how much it means to me, love you all and remember we are here to empower, inspire and motivate one another.

Keep sharing the love,

Jen xxx

 

 

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For the Love of Avocados!

Avocados have so many health benefits and are one of the most superior sources of natural healthy fats.  Fats are essential for soft, beautiful skin and youthful complexion so avocados feature highly on my list of top skin foods. Anything that can help me grow old gracefully is a winner in my eyes!!

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Here are some delicious recipes to get some more avocado into your diet!

First up is one of my favourites, guacamole! This is so easy to make and tastes delicious. I love it served with Turkey burgers, as a side with some chilli con carne recipe here or even spread onto some of my protein oat bread recipe here or brown bread recipe here topped with a poached egg or yummy bacon (or both!)

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Ingredients

1  Ripe Avocado, chopped

1/2 Red onion, chopped

2 Cloves of Garlic

6 – 8 Cherry Tomatoes

1 Chilli Pepper,  I use a full chilli pepper as I like it hot!!

Juice of 1 Lime ( or lemon)

Bunch of Fresh Coriander

Black pepper & Rock Salt to season

Method

Just put all ingredients into the Nutribullet or blender! For a chunky texture just pulse or for a smoother texture,  blend.

Nutritional Value

This makes 4 decent size servings.  Each serving is equal to 74 calories, carbs 8g, fat 5g, protein 1.5g.

Next up is a recipe inspired by the beautiful Roz Purcell aka Natural Born Feeder.  Scrolling through my Instagram feed on a Saturday morning wondering what to have for breakfast when I came across this yummy recipe!

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Ingredients

1 Egg

1 Ripe Avocado

2 Slices of Serrano Ham

Method

First up you want to boil your egg, I would have preferred my egg softer but I overcooked it! For a softer egg I normally place the egg in cold water, then bring to the boil and cook for 3 mins!

Peel and halve the avocado.

Gently remove the shell from your egg and place it into the avocado.

Holding the avocado, carefully wrap the Serrano ham around it.

Place under the grill at  a medium heat, turning every minute or so until the ham is crispy.

Serve with spinach and sundried tomatoes.

Nutritional Information

This recipe is just for 1 serving.  Total Calories 286, Carbs 9g, Fat 23g, Protein 15g.

Now for some clean treats!

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First up is Chocolate Mousse, yes a mousse made with avocado. You gotta try it to actually believe it!  The smooth texture of the avocado along with the cacao powder makes this mousse a delicious healthy treat to help with those sweet urges,  recipe here .

Next up are these delicious Avocado Mint Cream treats.

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These are one of my favourite treats to make with avocados  recipe here . I promise you these will not disappoint!  A little bit more time consuming to make but they are so worth it!

Saving the best for last,  my chocolate truffles!

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These little treats are so quick and easy to make and would be a perfect little gift to give to someone, homemade healthy truffles. I find these so handy to have especially on low carb days when I need to take in higher fat amounts to meet my macro goals!

Ingredients

1 Ready to Eat Avocado

4 – 5 Squares of good quality Dark Chocolate, ( minimum 70% cocoa I used 85%)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Cacao Powder to decorate

Method

In a bowl mash the avocado until you get a smooth texture, then add in vanilla extract and cinnamon.

Melt the dark chocolate then add to the avocado and mix well.

Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Remove from fridge and shape into little balls, then roll in the cacao powder.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, well that’s if they last that long!

Nutritional Information

This recipe makes 8 truffles. Each truffle is equal to 70 calories, Carbs 4g, Fat 5.6g, Protein 1.5g.

As always please tag me if you try out any of my recipes @jensgymlife on Facebook here, Instagram here, Twitter here or Snap me your pictures @jenser01 on Snapchat !

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Keep sharing the love!

Jen xxx

 

Fats & Oils

We all need fat in our diet.  For a start it keeps us warm, adds flavour to our food and most importantly it carries essential vitamins like A, D, E and K.  Oils contain essential fatty acids omega 3 & 6 which cannot by produced by the body and are vital for heart, brain, skin and health function.  Good fats are essential for optimum brain, eyes and digestive function, energy levels as well as hormone production and vitamin absorption.

There are four main types of fat :

Monounsaturated Fats  Olive oil, sesame oil, avocado oil

Polyunsaturated Fats  Fish oil, flax oil and walnut oil

Saturated Fats  Coconut Oil

All of the above fats can help promote health and well being.

Trans Fats  margarine , also found in biscuits ,chocolates, these fats have been hydrogenated and have been linked to obesity and heart disease.

Look for phrases like cold-pressed, raw or virgin which describe oils that are minimally processed and therefore retain their natural flavour and colour.

The Best Oils to Choose

If you want to get the maximum health benefits from your oils you need to know the right oil for each use.  Some oils like extra virgin olive oil are best used raw on salads or drizzled over food. Whereas coconut oil and ghee (clarified butter) are more suited to cooking at higher temperatures.

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Storing Oils

Keep your oils tightly sealed in a cool, dark place as light, air and heat are a no no for oils! Flavourful oils that don’t get used quickly like avocado, hazelnut, flax and hemp are best kept in the fridge.

Omega Oils

We all know how important omega 3s are from health benefits to brain development, concentration vision and bone health.  It is so important to include oily fish in your diet to ensure you are getting in those all important omega 3s. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts and sunflower).

Top 5 Oils

Avocado loaded with heart – healthy monounsaturated fats. It has a high smoke point making it suitable for cooking at high temperatures.

Coconut  contains lauric acid which is said to have both anti – bacterial and anti –  viral properties while also supporting healthy cholesterol levels.  It is perfect for stir frying and for use in baking and raw treats.

Ghee also known as clarified butter, stable at high temperatures meaning it is great for high heat cooking.  It is rich in the fat – soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 plus CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).

Olive  protects against heart disease by keeping the ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol.  Olive oil contains more monounsaturated fatty acids than any other natural oil.  Use it on salads or drizzle over steamed vegetables.

Peanut (groundnut) contains heart –  healthy phytosterols, essential plant fats thought to lower cholesterol. The high smoke point makes it a good choice for cooking over high heat, for example stir frying.

So with all that in mind lets get some of those healthy oils into our diets and don’t fear fat.

Remember your body needs some fat — the healthy fats — to function normally. If you try to avoid all fat, you risk getting insufficient amounts of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.

Also, in attempting to remove fat from your diet, you may end up eating too many of the dreaded processed low-fat or fat-free foods rather than healthier and naturally lower fat foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Instead of doing away with fat in your diet, enjoy healthy fats in moderation.

I hope you find this post useful, please don’t just read it, take action!

Much Love,

Jen xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macro Calculating made Easy!

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Over the past few weeks I have been asked a lot about how to calculate macros and what is the If It Fits Your Macros  and Flexible Dieting. I started to track my macros about a year ago and yes, at first I was pulling my hair out trying to get my head around it.  But fear not my friends, like anything in life, if you keep at it you will soon get used to it. I am self taught and I did my own research on the whole concept of flexible dieting and macro counting.  I am in no way an expert but I will try my best to explain in simple terms the basics of calculating your macros!

What are Macronutrients (macros)  ?

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In order for your body to perform optimally it needs a certain amount of each of the macronutrients protein, carbohydrates (carbs) and fat.

PROTEIN

Protein is the building block of the body. It makes up a part of nearly every cell in the body and is vital for muscle repair and growth and is also a source of energy. Sources include lean meat, poultry, eggs, lentils, beans. Ideally it is best to get your protein intake from natural sources but sometimes it is really difficult to hit your protein goals just on food alone. Like me, for example, my protein intake is high and needed for the training I am doing so that is why I use whey protein in order to hit those protein goals on a daily basis.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates or ‘carbs’ are the main fuel source for the body. When carbs are digested, they are converted to glycogen which is stored in the muscles and liver for energy. Unused glycogen is converted to body fat. For this reason, many people avoid carbs altogether and rely on protein and fat as fuel. It is a much better practice to eat carbs, which will increase energy and the ability to train, resulting in more muscle and in turn, a higher Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  BMR is a measurement of the number of calories needed to perform your body’s most basic (basal) functions, like breathing, circulation and cell production.

FAT

Fat! Don’t be scared of it…  You actually need it in your diet.  Fat doesn’t directly make you “fat” – excess calories make you “fat”.  It’s about getting the right balance.The fats that we eat in our foods are mostly triglycerides. These are made up of 3 (hence “tri”) fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated, Saturated (which are all necessary in the diet in different proportions) but the one you want to avoid is Trans Fat. Trans Fat is created from an industrial process where hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it solid at room temperature. It prolongs the shelf life of the product containing it. It is usually not labelled as trans fat. Artificial trans fats are mostly found in fast foods, fried foods and commercial baked products such as cookies and are the most unhealthy fats (even worse than saturated fats!)

If It Fits Your Macros

Where to start with IIFYM is normally the hard part, eat right, but don’t get all caught up in the whole ‘clean vs dirty’ food debate. If you want to eat whole grain bread, oats, brown rice, etc. Then do it, don’t get into the whole “If I have ice cream I’m going to get fat” or, “I’ll never have pizza again” mentality. If you want it, you can have it, just make sure it fits in with your other macronutrients and your goals in terms of calorie intake then it isn’t going to make much of a difference in the long run. It all comes down to personal preference. If you want it, you can have it, just make sure it fits your macros.  That’s the whole idea of flexible dieting and the reason why it actually works.  You are not depriving yourself of any food group therefore it is easier to maintain as a lifestyle change and not just a fad diet.

It makes perfect sense! Those of you who follow me on  snapchat, jenser 01, or on my Facebook page here, Instagram here, will know that I love my food.  So with IIFYM I get to

  • Eat 2500 Calories a day on training days , 2000 Calories on rest days
  • I can have a treat as long as it fit’s my macros
  • I don’t feel deprived at all

Yes there are a few ‘downsides’

  • You have to be diligent on your tracking
  • You have to weigh your food
  • You have to be willing to eat random things to get your macros in

But hey that’s not too bad if it means reaching your goals whatever they may be!

Calcuating Your Personal Macronutrient Requirements

There are many different calculators online that you can use.  The most popular one is the IIFYM Calculator , click here.

First of all you need to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) This is the amount of calories your body burns in a 24 hour period, sleeping, working, exercising, playing and even digesting food! Be very honest when you are calculating your TDEE as there is no point saying that your ‘active’ each day or that you train intensely if you don’t, you will only be fooling yourself!

The best way is to show you an example!

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First step is to choose your gender, then enter your age, followed by your height.  So for this example I have chosen a 30 year old woman, lets call her Kate,  5 ft 5 inches tall.

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The next step is to enter Kate’s weight in pounds.  So Kate weighs 10 st 3 lb (65 kg) which is equal to 143 lbs.  

Following that you click the formula you want to use.  The best one to use is the first one for Total Body Weight Formula.

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Kate works in an office so spends most of the day sitting, so her daily activities would be considered sedentary

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Kate exercises 3 days a week, each session lasting 6o mins including cardio.

 

 

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Kate doesn’t really push herself when she is exercising so she chooses a light intensity.

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You use energy no matter what you’re doing, even when sleeping. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is energy expended while at rest in a neutrally temperate environment, basically the number of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day.  So Kate’s BMR is 1371 calories.  

Her TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is an estimation of how many calories she burns per day, so Kate’s is equal to 1705 calories.

Next step is to calculate Kate’s macros.  Kate wants to loose some weight before her summer holidays.  In order to lose weight (burn fat), you need to consume less calories than your body needs. A deficit of 15-20% off of your personal TDEE is a safe caloric deficit to aim for to insure fast fat loss without burning up your hard earned muscle.

  • Kate’s maintenance calories ( TDEE ) is 1705 calories.
  • 15% of 1705 is equal to 255 calories.
  • In order to find the amount of calories Kate now needs to consume, subtract 255 from 1705. Kate’s new daily calorie intake is now 1450.
  • Kate will maintain this for 2 weeks and then review. If Kate is loosing a 1lb a week she will continue with the daily  1450 calorie intake.  If she is loosing less than a 1lb a week , she will need to subtract another 100 calories.
  • PLEASE NOTE THAT IF KATE BEGINS TO TRAIN HARDER AND AT A HIGHER INTENSITY SHE WILL NEED TO RECALCULATE HER TDEE.

How to calculate (estimate) your macro-nutrient intake:

 

Starting with Protein.

  • Protein is recommended at 1g – 2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight. So we know that Kate weighs  65kg (143 lbs).  Diets with a higher Protein content satisfy the appetite so Kate will increase her protein intake and will start at 1.5g of protein per kilo. So Kate’s daily protein intake is 65kg multiplied by 1.5g which equals 98g.
  • Protein has 4 calories per 1g so Kate needs to multiply 98g by 4 which equals to 392 calories.  So we now know that 392 calories of Kate’s daily intake need to come from a lean protein source.

Next up Fat

  • Fat is recommended at 0.35g – 0.45g of fat per kilo of bodyweight. Kate sets her  fat at 0.4g per kilo of bodyweight. So we multiply 65kg by 0.4g which equals 26g.  This will be Kate’s daily fat intake. 
  • Fat has 9 calories per 1g so we multiply  26g by 9 which equals 234 calories. So this means 234 of Kate’s daily calorie intake needs to be from a healthy fat source.

Finally onto Carbs

  • To work out Kate’s  Carbs,  she first  needs to add the calories from Proteins and Fats and subtract from her daily calories.  Kate’s calories from protein is equal to 392 and her calories from fat is equal to 234.  So 392 calories plus 234 calories is equal to 626 calories.  
  • We now subtract 626 calories from 1450 calories which is equal to 824 calories.  To get Kate’s daily Carb intake she needs to divide 824 calories by 4. Kate’s daily Carb intake is equal to 206g.

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To summarise

  • To calculate Kate’s protein intake  1.5g protein per kilo of bodyweight 1.5 x 65kg = 98g
  • To calculate Kate’s fat intake 0.4g fat per kilo of bodyweight 0.4 x 65kg = 26g
  • Calories from protein & fat   98g x 4 (392 calories)  + 26g x 9 (234 calories) = 626 calories.
  • Carb intake ⇒ Daily Calories 1450 minus total calories from Protein & Fat 626 calories divided by 4  1450 calories- 626 calories = 824 calories. Divided by 4 = 206g

KATES MACROS EQUAL TO 1450 CALORIES …PROTEIN 98g, FAT 26g, CARBS 206g.

Tips:

  • Try to get most of your macros from whole foods. They are high in micronutrients needed to maintain overall health.
  • Tailor your meals to suit your individual preference.  Personally I eat 5- 6 meals a day but whats most important is to hit your daily calorie intake and your macro goals.
  • Timing your nutrients is not necessary. There is no universal macro or calorie breakdown you should be eating pre and/or post-workout. Overall micronutrient, macronutrient and calorie intake relevant to your goal(s) is far more important.

 

I really hope this makes sense and  helps you all with calculating your macros!  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.  I will try my best to answer them.  You can contact me through any of my social media platforms, Facebook here, Twitter here, Instagram here and Snapchat- jenser01  !  This is only part one of the IIFYM .  In my next blog post I will explain how to actually track your macros. I felt it would be too much information to put into just one blog post and probably confuse you even further!

That’s all for now and thank you all so much for your continued support on my journey to the stage.

Love you all,

Jen xxxx

 

 

 

 

Promoting Positive Body Image from an Early Age.

Screenshot_2016-01-24-12-29-25-1-1In this age of social media and reality TV it is so important for us as parents, guardians and role models to promote a more positive and healthy approach towards body image.  Children and teenagers need to feel happy and confident no matter what their body shape or size and to learn that there is more to their bodies than just how they look.

While it is important to promote a healthier lifestyle, keeping the focus on weight alone can lead to our children developing unhealthy ideas about what a healthy body is.  For many parents the worry is that talking to their children in relation to their weight may develop into an eating disorder.  Unfortunately, this can mean that children who are overweight don’t get the help and support that they need.  One of the best ways we can help our children to maintain a healthy weight is to encourage them to be happy from the inside out. Promoting a more positive way of thinking and learning to love themselves for who they are and to be happy in their bodies.

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Here are some ideas for you to promote a healthy body image amongst our younger generation. 

  • Children learn from our behaviour so avoid negative comments for example ‘I look fat in this.’
  • Put more focus on health and help them to understand the long term effects as they get older, rather than weight as this creates a negative focus.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your child about their weight if they do need to loose weight.
  • Focus on what the body can do, dance, jump, run etc.
  • Encourage your child to be happy with their body.
  • Compliment children, it is so important to acknowledge their talents as well as their appearance.Screenshot_2016-01-24-12-30-54-1-1
  • Let them know there is so much more to a person than just their looks.
  • Make healthy eating a normal everyday part of family life, not just for weight loss.
  • Highlight the benefits of  healthy eating – stronger, faster, fitter.
  • Try not to ban “treats” , have them in moderation and please do not reward good behaviour with food! Set a day whether it be a Friday or Saturday night as movie night and sit down as a family and have a treat.
  • As a family do more activities that require some exercise.  It can be so much fun going for long walks in local parks or trekking up the mountains, some warm clothes and a pair of wellington boots splashing about in puddles and mud can be great fun no matter what age!
  • Teach children that the images in magazines etc. are un-realistic and photo shopped!
  • Be sensitive to body changes that occur with puberty.
  • Avoid unhelpful comments such as “puppy fat”.
  • Involve children in food choice, preparation and cooking. They could make their own treats!
  • Most importantly, be a good role model!

 

I hope you find this helpful!

Much love,

Jen xx

 

 

 

Getting Motivated to Live a Healthier Lifestyle

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So many people make it their New Year’s resolution to get in shape and start out with a lot of enthusiasm and energy in the beginning only to fall back into their old ways and give up. Fad diets, detox teas and shakes are advertised everywhere you look, or some magic diet pill that promises you a new body in 2 weeks!  I’m sorry to burst your bubble but none of these will work in the long term.  Achieving that desired physique will only come with a healthier, balanced lifestyle.

The first thing you need to do is to concentrate on what your fitness goals are.  Are you skinny and wanting to bulk up or are you overweight and wanting to lose fat as well as build muscle mass at the same time?  Maybe you just want to get lean or you want to run your first 5 km. Whatever your goal is, once you know specifically what you want to accomplish you can then follow a workout and nutrition plan specifically tailored to you to achieve your goal.  Once these are in place you can follow them on a long term basis and it makes life a lot easier.  Personally I find setting my own little goals with each workout a great way to motivate me to do better each time.  For example knocking a few seconds off my previous run or lifting a heavier weight or even just getting that extra rep in.

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Measuring your progress is also so important. Two things you should do is ditch the scales and take selfies.  Not the pouted version but taking pictures of your body from all sides!  Yes its okay to weigh yourself from time to time but please do not get obsessed with numbers on a scale. There are so many reasons why you could be up a pound or two one day and down 3 the next!   Progress is not always noticeable especially when it is gradual so you might get demotivated more easily than if you were tracking your progress. If your taking pictures regularly you will start to see changes in your body.   A measuring tape is a MUST.  Know how to take your measurements: waist, chest, arms etc , any gym instructor or personal trainer will help you with this and track these numbers as you go along.  You will be surprised at how much progress you are making that you might not have noticed in the mirror or on the scales.

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It’s really up to you, if you really want to achieve a particular fitness or life goal you will be successful.  Being fit and healthy is a choice only you can make and self motivation is the most important factor determining success in all aspects of life.  Yes we all have bad days, but the important thing is to forget about it and start fresh the next day.  There will be days where you don’t want to train and yes I have had to drag myself around to gym on many occasions but once your there you will feel so much better when your done.  Always turn the negative thoughts into positive ones, if you have that bar of chocolate or that pizza, just move on and get back on track with the next meal.

If you want to achieve you will!

Jen xx