The Importance Of Valuing Your Own Time

I often get asked how do I fit it all in? At the moment I am juggling life as a junior doctor in London with FJSFit, training and maintaining a social life.

2018 was a very busy year; I graduated from medical school, made the big move to London and stared a new job as a doctor. 6 months has flown by and I realised I entered 2019 with very little spare ‘Me’ time. I have made a conscious effort to be a bit more selfish with my time and more selective on what I say yes to.

Some things that have really helped me prioritise my time and have a more free time to train, relax, unwind and maintain a social life outside of all the work!

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1. Lists are your new best friend. I write down everything I need to on paper and make a list of things I must-do today and thinks I should-do this week. That way, if I don’t do everything on the list I don’t get too worried about it and I still get the feeling of satisfaction when I get my must-do jobs ticked off!

 

2. Allow yourself a little luxury! Now that I’m working full time, including a few weekends in the hospital, I really value my evenings and weekends. I used to spend a good chunk of my weekend cleaning my apartment, washing clothes and generally getting organised. In the New Year I decided to budget a bit more, stop buying unnecessary items and invest in a trusty @fantasticservices cleaner*. Sure, my monthly outgoings are a little higher, but my productivity levels have rocketed! Instead of feeling like I’ve wasted precious time at the weekend cleaning, I have more free time to do the things I love. Plus I find I make much more of an effort to keep my apartment clean and tidy once I’ve paid for it!

3. Stop saying yes to everything. I have always been a person who loves being busy and helping other people out, but since moving to London I’ve realised there’s always something I could be doing, but that doesn’t mean I should be doing them all! I’ve started to be more aware of what I’m saying yes to, instead of saying yes to every event that’s going on, I now make sure I schedule in my own gym sessions and time to actually chill out at home before saying I’m free to go to something. It’s made a huge difference in my mood as I’m prioritising my own self-care daily instead of getting to Friday and realising I haven’t trained or eaten a vegetable!

 

4. Prioritise the things that are important to you. Similar to point number 3, but if you enjoy spending time with family, walking the dog, or just laying on the sofa watching tv with a face mask on (anyone else??), then do those things. It is very easy to feel pressured into living your life a certain way by what we see on social media, but you should spend your free time doing the things you value.

5. Declutter your life. This is a huge one for me. I find that if my living space is filled with things, I don’t think as clearly. The saying ‘Tidy Home Tidy Mind’ definitely runs true. I recruited the decluttering dolls at @fantasticservices to help me out a bit and I’d really recommend it*. I feel like everything is much speedier in the mornings when I know where everything. I can’t tell you how satisfying and time-sparing it is to actually see what’s in your wardrobe and your kitchen cupboards!

Do you think you value your own time enough? What do you do for YOU? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Dr Frankie x

*I was kindly gifted the help of @fantasticservices to revamp my home and my life and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough! Simply download the GoFantastic app, click the service you want and enter the number of rooms you house, and within a few clicks you can tick ‘Spring Clean’ off your new to-do list!

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Should you snack?

Hello all! Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. If you haven’t heard, I am now writing blog posts for @Gymshark which is a dream come true for me! You can find the posts I’ve written for them here

A question I commonly get asked by my coaching clients is: how many meals should I eat a day?

There is never a simple answer to questions about diet, because every single person is different. We’ve all got different genes, different appetites, different activity levels and different metabolisms.

To work out the number most suitable for you. I recommend asking yourself a few questions:

  1. Do you have time to prepare yourself meals/snacks for the day?

If you’re good at meal prepping, I personally quite like eating 5 times a day, although sometimes this doesn’t fit in with my work schedule. That sounds a lot but I tend to have breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 2 snacks throughout the day. I usually have something like greek yoghurt with The Good Guru protein mixed in blueberries and almond butter, or if I’m going to workout, ill have protein porridge. However, these ‘snacks’ take a few minutes to prepare so if you don’t have that time, I think its better to have a larger lunch than grabbing a sugar-laden convenience snack as an afternoon pick-me-up

  1. Do you get really hungry?

Some people just get hungrier than others and can’t wait 4 hours between meals. If this is you, it could be worth splitting one of your larger meals into 2 smaller ones to spread over a longer time period. This might help curb that appetite! I actually don’t get that hungry between breakfast and lunch because I’m busy on the ward, so sometimes I prefer a bigger lunch.

  1. What’s your goal?

If you’re trying to gain weight/muscle, it can be difficult to get enough calories in and you might find this easier by eating in between meals. For example, a great way to get in some extra calories is through liquid nutrition. A high-calorie smoothie with some added peanut butter can really help you boost your protein and your calories up if a big plate of food is a challenge for you.

  1. Is it hunger or is it boredom?

This is something you need to address. If you’re sat at work all day or studying in a library, it can be easy to snack to pass the time. If this is you, but you’re not appreciating the extra calories, then try and re-train yourself to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.

There are lots of different studies about this topic but I think its irrelevant. Trial out 3 meals a day for a few weeks, trial out 5 meals a day for a few weeks and see which one best fits in with your lifestyle and goal!

Sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer, but unfortunately this is how nutrition is!

Hope you found this useful,

Frankie

@FJSFit

A Latte Truths about Coffee

As a final year medical student, online coach, fitness blogger and relatively social human being, I’ve developed what I always thought was an unhealthy relationship with coffee. When my alarm goes off, the thing that gets my sleepy body out of bed is knowing my Nespresso machine is there to wake me up (if only George Clooney came with it!). I have a coffee whilst getting ready for the day, maybe one in the car and definitely one when I get into clinic…before I know it I can easily have had 4-5 per day and until now, I’ve always felt slightly guilty about this quite apparent addiction.

However, it seems the stars have aligned and someone is watching over me because as I sat down in my break with a frothy cup of steaming hot coffee yesterday, I stumbled across an article that immediately had my eyes wider than the caffeine in my cup. The article was reporting a study published in the highly regarded British Medical Journal (BMJ) which looked at the health benefits of coffee. In terms of levels of evidence, it was an umbrella review of studies looking at the association of coffee to different health outcomes.

Before the green tea enthusiasts pipe up, I will add that this study looked at coffee not caffeine.

The outcomes they looked at was the association of coffee on different diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver disease. The results showed a significant reduction in these events and the benefits increased with every extra cup compared to no coffee.

Seen as though I like to analyse what I put in my body, I thought I’d sum up the benefits and downsides of my beloved coffee for you!

Benefits

Always good to start with the positives as I’m a ‘cup half full’ kinda gal (no pun intended).

1. Coffee contains antioxidants which help fight against toxins and harmful molecules produced in our bodies called free radicals, reducing inflammation and cell damage.

2. Coffee can help boost energy levels which increases mental and physical performance (although I’m not saying this should ever be used instead of sleep!) Caffeine can increase adrenaline in your body switching on the ‘fight or flight’ mode, helping you power through that essay, revision session or long shift at work!

3. It’s a good pre-workout, and in my opinion, often better than some of the chemical-laden pre-workouts you can buy from supplement companies, that are usually filled with sweeteners and chemicals that your Nan can’t pronounce.

4. Coffee can boost your metabolism. The ingredient caffeine can boost your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) to help you burn your stores of body fat when resting and when working out! More studies are required to see if caffeine has a place in weight-loss regimes.

5. Recent studies such as the article in the BMJ mentioned and others such as Annals of Internal Medicine show positive associations between coffee and health outcomes including all-cause mortality, cancer, liver disease and diabetes (NOTE: these positives are not applicable to pregnant women and negative effects on antenatal outcomes were reported).

Negatives

1. It can be an addictive substance. I am living proof of that. If I forget to have a coffee on a Saturday morning, or have one later in the day, I genuinely get symptoms of withdrawal such as the dreaded ‘weekend headache’.

2. Excessive coffee can raise the stress chemical in your body cortisol – even if you don’t feel stressed! Doesn’t seem fair does it? that a drink that’s causing you happiness can be telling your body different things. Conversely to raising BMR and burning fat, excessive cortisol can prevent fat breakdown (lipolysis), cause anxiety and cause your heart to beat faster, which can be felt as palpitations.

3. Coffee can affect your ability to fall asleep, especially if you drink it too late in the day. I try not to drink coffee past 4pm.

4. Caffeine is a diuretic. That means it draws water out of your body and dehydrates you. Many people think having a cup of tea or coffee is having a drink, but it is advisable to drink a glass of water alongside every caffeinated drink to ensure good hydration (that includes fizzy caffeinated drinks!).

5. Too much coffee can unsettle your GI tract and have a laxative effect, making common conditions such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) even worse. If you think you are particularly sensitive to caffeine, try keeping a diary of intake and see if it matches the timing of your symptoms. Additionally you could (try) cut it out for a few weeks and see if you see any improvement.

6. Your daily latte could be hindering your weight loss. A ‘skinny’ gingerbread latte can contain 28g of sugar – that’s 7 TEASPOONS of sugar. You wouldn’t dream of putting that in your coffee would you! That’s an extra 150 calories a lot of people don’t even think they are consuming. Remember liquid calories can often be the secret hindrance to your progress!

Hope you found this post useful!

Frankie x

@FJSFIT

Why YOU might need a coach?

You’re not thinking about prepping for a bikini competition, to be a professional body builder, to qualify for the CrossFit games or to become the next FitBrit champ… you’re just, well, training…

So why do you need a coach?

Whether you’re a complete beginner or if you’ve been training for a while and have an idea about what you’re doing, you could massively benefit from having a coach.

You’ve taken the first steps of walking into the gym, writing a workout idea down in your Notes. But all that effort into getting yourself into the gym, the sweat, the aches… are they actually helping you achieve your goals?

There are very few people who actually know why they’re doing a certain exercise, why they’re doing 10 reps of an exercise? Or have a clue about how much rest they should be taking. You could turn that 60 min gym session into a 45 minute one AND achieve the results faster.

I have personally spent years learning the science behind exercise, worked with amazing companies such as OnePT academy, qualified as a personal trainer and have invested in a coach myself for a year, and finally, I feel like I’ve cracked it.

If I bother dragging myself to the gym, it’s for a purpose. Every rep, every weight and every second of rest is calculated in a way that’s going to make me perform my best. There’s no flipping from machine to machine hoping I’m going to grow my glutes, or get fitter or shift the fat off my belly. It’s all calculated – and having a coach means someone else, probably more experienced and qualified for you calculates all this for you.

It’s great to have someone to report back to each week, to make you feel accountable. If you know you have to take progress pics, weigh in and take measurements on a Friday morning, the temptation to have that glass of wine and bar of chocolate on Thursday night is gone because you have someone else you want to do proud! It’s great to have someone on the end of the phone to answer all of your questions and give you motivational pushes when you need them!

So if you think this all sounds like something you’d benefit from, drop me an email to fjsfit@gmail.com to join my online coaching programme.

Love

Frankie x

FJSFit

Eat Smart with The Skinny Bakery

You may have seen these wizards floating about on Instagram but let me tell you a little bit more about them…

Founded by London baker (wizard) in 2013, The Skinny Bakery was formed after Mariella spent years perfecting the recipe for low-cal sweets and treats.

NOW, as you’ll know if you follow me on instagram, I’m allll about those kcals and I really don’t restrict anything from my diet. However, I am smart with how I ‘spend’ my calories and I do like to get the majority of my intake from wholesome micronutrient dense foods including meats, grains and veg.

However, just like you, I need to have something sweet after a meal. This is where The Skinny Bakery products fit perfectly into my life because now, instead of having 1 chocolate chip cookie with my cup of yorkshire tea, I can have 4… and for less than half the calories. My favourites are the chocolate chip cookies and the gingerbread cookies (109 calories for 3 in a pack).

If you want a sweet treat that isn’t going to make you feel guilty or stop you reaching your goals, I really recommend these products because they taste like the real calorie filled-sugary-dipped in butter-soaked in syrup and covered in chocolate real deal stuff!

Let me know if you try them!

DISCLAIMER: I genuinely love these products and i’m not being paid to write about them (although they did send me a cheeky pack of chocolate orange pearls!)

Are You Addicted To Exercise?

Are you addicted to exercise?

… and is it a bad thing?

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit… Do you remember that feeling when you first started in the gym? Every rep was hard and tiring. You really had to psych yourself up to go to your sessions. Then one day you started to look forward to going to the gym… and it actually felt good when you left? Yep. That feeling. Thats the psychological stage of training and its all to do with the same chemicals in your brain that make you feel good when you get praise, drink coffee, alcohol or take drugs.

Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins act on receptors in your brain that make you feel happy. It’s all part of the same ‘Reward System’, so exercise can actually be addictive.

This leads me onto my second point… is that a bad thing?

If you’re exercising everyday, feeling guilty on your rest days and not letting your body recover, then maybe it is a bad thing. Rest is vital for adaptation to exercise (adaptation is what we’re training for – the changes your body makes when exercise (a stress) is placed on the body – that means bigger muscles, stronger muscles or a fitter, more efficient cardiovascular system). If you’re not letting your body recover because you absolutely have to gym every single day of the week, or if you’re saying no to social activities then maybe you need to think a little harder about this potentially being a destructive issue for you.

But what if your addiction is actually just dedication? You really enjoy exercise and want to work hard towards achieving your goal. Surely that’s not a bad thing? There’s certainly worse things to be addicted to.

A body builder/bikini competitor may train twice a day and this may be seen by excessive to some, and they may get labelled as ‘gym addicts’, but actually they are working hard to compete in their sport. An olympic athlete running for hours every day might not get the same judgement.

For me, I train for the ‘me time’ – at the end of a busy day in hospital, I go to the gym and have an hour to work on myself. Sometimes when I watch tv, I feel guilty that I’m being unproductive, whereas training in the gym feels productive because I’m working on myself as a project. My mind is never as clear as when I’m training. I don’t feel stressed, I just focus on each rep and my form and the time flies by. I probably am addicted to the stress-relieving endorphins. But it doesn’t get in the way of my social life. If something fun comes up, or I go home for the weekend, i’ll skip a session and not get too hung up about it.

So I encourage YOU to think about why you’re training. Whilst your body might be healthy from good nutrition and regular exercise, your mind might not be healthy if you’re exercising to feed an addiction.

Food for thought,

Love,

FJS x

SLEEP: Snooze or lose?

SLEEP. 

Such a important topic. You’ve probably heard phrases like “sleep is for the weak” and “you can sleep when you’re dead” thrown around on New York City tv shows by big-shot lawyers and bankers.

As a medical student, I have busy exam periods each year when time becomes sacred and for years I used to stay up late, get up early and chose revision over sleep. Once I started exercising and weight training, I realised I wasn’t getting enough sleep to support my training.

Why do you need sleep?

To put it simply: weight training causes small micro-tears in the muscle fibres, which then repair and grow back stronger and/or bigger. This is called recovery. Recovery is so important to get the most out of your training and comes in 2 forms: rest days and sleep.

It is recommended you get at least 8 hours sleep a night (I personally need 9 to feel refreshed the next day) and these need to be good quality winks.

Tips to help you sleep: 

1. Set yourself a bedtime. Instead of going to bed when you feel tired, go earlier and try and get the same number of hours each night. I’ve started to aim for 9 hours each night, even on the weekend rather than having an excessive lie-in on a weekend and I feel better for it.

2. Turn off your phones/Ipads/laptops 2 hours before you aim to sleep (or if you’re addicted then at least put them on ‘night mode’). Blue light prevents a hormone in your body called Melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for making you feel drowsy right before you nod off, so if you’re struggling to drift off, you want to get your melatonin to rise as much as possible before it’s time to sleep.

3. Try and unwind before bed. If I work right up to sleep time, my mind is racing and I can’t switch off. I  like to light a candle in my room whilst getting ready for bed or sometimes i’ll put the TV on for a bit (but don’t get sucked in to watching the whole 60mins of Made in Chelsea at once, they’ll still be bickering when you switch it back on the next night. Sometimes I take a ‘Good Sleep‘ supplement from my friends over at the Good Guru (it’s not a sleeping tablet but it helps with relaxation*).

4. Be organised. Pack your gym bag and make your lunch the night before so you can have an extra 20 mins in bed on a morning!

5. It might be necessary to consult your GP. If you are excessively tired all the time then you might be deficient in certain hormones such as Vitamin D or Thyroid Hormone. A quick visit to the GP could help you with this if you really think you’re sleeping enough but are constantly tired.

Please remember you don’t have to immediately do all of these things at once, start making small changes and i’m sure you’ll be feeling more energised soon!

Happy sleeping,

Frankie x

 

 

*As a scientist I practice Evidence Based Medicine and the evidence behind L-Theanine is currently being studied for its use to help reduce anxiety and sleep disorders.

5 ways to FIT it all in

Hello and welcome to my first official #FJSFIT blog post!

I will keep in short and sweet but I wanted to answer one of my biggest asked questions: How to balance a health and fitness lifestyle into a busy, working life?

“You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce”

^ my least favourite quote of all time because not all of us have make-up artists, personal trainers, chefs and personal assistants… (*eye roll emoji*) SO while I can’t magic you these luxuries, I can share with you my top tips on how I juggle a health and fitness lifestyle and running #FJSFIT alongside studying for my final year of medical school.

1.Plan your workouts. If you’re only going to take onboard one recommendation, then this is it. Spend 30 mins on a weekend planning your workouts for the week ahead. This way you know exactly what you’re doing in the gym, you can go in, do your thing and get out rather than swanning from machine to machine aimlessly without a plan. I tend to write one weeks worth of training and then follow the same plan for 4 weeks before changing it up (this also helps monitor progress too!)

2. Either set an early alarm and get your workout done before your brain has had time to think about it, or take your gym kit with you and go straight to the gym after work/uni/school. I know if I come home and put the kettle on, I’m not going out again!

3. Meal prep. This is something I heavily rely on. I’m not a natural cook so I could  easily spend an hour in the kitchen each evening messing about if I had the time. Instead, I cook a big batch of protein on a Sunday night (usually heck chicken sausages), make a big bowl of salad or veg and prep some carbs (I buy the microwavable rice sachets for week nights). Then when you come home you can pop your dinner in the microwave and still have time to watch The Great British Bake Off at 9pm. I must admit I tend to eat the standard protein, carb, greens meal in the week and then indulge more on the weekends.  You could also make a big batch of something such as a thai curry or a chilli and pop individual portions in the freezer.

4. Use exercise as your relaxation.  Even during exam time, I always make sure I leave an hour in my jam-packed day for myself. Instead of watching tv, I use my break to go to the gym as I find exercise really helps me relieve stress: endorphins for the win!

5. Accept you don’t have superpowers. Unless training is a major priority for you as you’re prepping for an upcoming competition, you probably don’t need to gym every day twice a day like some of the people you see on instagram. So do the best you can, be realistic when planning your week and don’t beat yourself up if you miss the odd workout. Sometimes it’s ok to skip your session to hang out with your family, friends… or dogs!

I hope you find these tips useful. As always, if you have any questions feel press to contact me.

Lots of love,

Frankie xScreen Shot 2017-10-06 at 23.22.58