We speak with personal trainer and Kerrigan's ambassador Jenni Murphy, AKA Jenni_TRX, about how to get started on your journey to a fitter and healthier lifestyle.
Jenni is a former Miss Toned fig Ireland and Miss Athletic World Champion. She also earned her PRO Card at The WFF World Championships in November which made her Ireland’s first professional with The World Fitness Federation.
Here are just some of her top tips to start changing your lifestyle, staying fit and expelling the myths around healthy eating.
1. Forget the fads
My number one tip is forget about fad diets! The first thing you need to do before anything else is to go back to the very basics. Learn to walk and walk really well then you can start to run even sprint to your various goal. Stay away from as much processed foods and eat as “clean” as you can. Choose organic when possible and whole real foods. If something like a simple piece of cooked chicken in a packet has loads of ingredients it’s more than likely not going to be all that good for you. Start reading labels - learn what is actually in your food and I guarantee you that you will be shocked. Some meat based items actually only contain 40% meat so what on earth is the other 60%? The best thing we can do is go back to eating like our grandparents did; balanced meals full of whole foods, real food, meat, and vegetables and good healthy Fats - y'up, I said the F word...it’s all about creating that perfect balance.
2.Don't eat like a pro
If you’re not competing on a Body Building stage then don’t eat like it. People think that if they just eat chicken and broccoli all day like the people they follow on social media they’ll get into stage shape, however they are only getting a small snippet of what it actually takes to get your body into stage condition. They don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that are involved in the gym too and the huge sacrifices that have to be made. You have to be able to have a balance, to enjoy the important precious moments in life, to be spontaneous, have that piece of cake at the party, have that ice cream on a super hot summers day, go for that drink with friends, life is too short and you will hate it and rebel making it unsustainable. There needs to be a healthy relationship built with food that will be the foundation for a life time of change, for long term life changing effects not for a “summer bod”. In my opinion there are a lot of personal trainers out there giving athlete type plans to their clients that just aren’t appropriate for a lifestyle where you have more to think about more than just the gym. Trust me, I’ve been on an intense strict diet for nearly two years prior to winning the Miss Athletic World Championship and I don’t care what anyone else says or portrays - it’s miserable, it’s so tough and it greatly affects your everyday life. My coach doesn’t believe in cheat meals or the bad mindset they can bring. They glorify treats and put too much emphasis on everything else being boring so much that a rice cake is a treat… this is true when your end goal is to take home a Gold model, not to look good at a pool in Ibiza! You loose any enjoyment that is associated with food -and your lepton and serotonin levels drop ( satisfaction and hunger) - it simply becomes fuel, that’s it. Your hormones and therefore your mood become affected; especially women on low fat diets (we need 30g minimum) and it’s very hard to function with a normal life. Your skin, your social life and your mental health can all be affected. I was able to dedicate 100% to my food because I wanted to win, I am extremely driven and I know I have strong will power but I am an athlete so therefore I have to eat like one. I don’t have responsibilities like a family. I can take mid afternoon naps, I can prep my meals at midnight and eat every 3 hours with my job as a trainer. I choose this hard life because I had a goal that I felt was worth it, however people need to be realistic in what they can achieve and still function and live happy, fun lives. You want to be able to take the kid's to school, play with them in the playground, make the dinner, go to your work and not let it be affected by your unrealistic diet. The goal in life is first and foremost to be happy.
3. Make a diary
Make a food diary and track everything for a few days, you’d be amazed how much you actually consume in a day, and don’t lie you are only fooling yourself at the end of the day! By knowing where you’re getting your macro nutrients from you can begin to see a trend, what are you eating too little or too much of and where could you make a better choice? To be honest when I do it with clients the problem that emerges is that they’re not eating enough food. It can simply be little changes that will make all the difference. To loose weight it's science: you simply must be in a calorie deficit. You need to have a lower input that your output. Even if you swap out that one latte for a black coffee, take one less spoon of sugar in your tea, one less biscuit or slice of toast that could be a whopping 200 cals less a day, that’s 1400 a week.
Remember the trifecta...sleep, train and eat. If one of these 3 components is missing it will be very hard to achieve your desired fitness goal. Sleep and rest days are every single bit as important as the food and the gym. I hate doing nothing but I respect my body and I know when it needs to repair. We need to go into REM (a deep sleep) for our body to properly repairs. Supplements like magnesium and Valerian root can naturally aid you to achieve this. Your workouts also needs to be efficient and effective so that you can get the hell out of the gym and enjoy your life. Get off your phone in the gym and work out! Follow a programme that’s designed for you by a professional, not something you saw some one do on Instagram.
5. Pre-holiday advice
Coming up to holidays there are some things you can do to feel better I would add in more water and reduce the amount of sodium I am consuming. Clean up your foods: stick to green veg, white fish, good carbs. However I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is no miracle solution; no short term fix. If you don’t put in the time then you will not see the results simple. Summer bodies are built are year round. I could put someone on a horrible restrictive diet, cut carbs, do a water load and they fit that dress but they will be hormonal, moody, lethargic, will have no energy, their skin and hair will suffer and they will be miserable on the day. Instead we could work over a longer period of time, make her fit and healthy with a change in food behaviour and taper in to the big day, she will be so happy and love her day and remember it all!
6. Eat Food to lose weight
You need to eat food to lose weight. This is the biggest challenge to get this into people's heads. Your body is a machine, it needs fuel. The better we make the engine run and burn fuel the more efficient it will be. Think of a stone oven, if we placed a lump of dough on the roof of a cold oven it will go mouldy and stale and rotten… however place the dough on a hot oven it will cook, then burn, go black and disintegrate. If you do not eat food your body is starving, it thinks it is dying. We are built to survive so it will do everything in it power to stay alive and that means storing everything you eat because it doesn’t know when you will fuel it again.
7. Build that muscle
Build muscle! Muscles needs loads of energy to stay fueled allowing you to consume more calories. The human body naturally burns more calories each day to maintain a pound of muscle than it does to maintain a pound of fat. Therefore, the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will naturally burn each day at rest.
8. Cut out the booze...
Really try to limit your alcohol consumption. At the end of the day your body sees it as a toxin and a hangover is your body trying to get rid of it and get back on track. Not only this but people’s food during and after drinking tends to consist of fatty nutritionally void foods; you crave salt, and you’re in a constant state of dehydration. It can throw us off hormonally and make you feel low for a few days afterwards, thus again leads to binge eating for comfort. Your body will store water due to all the salty foods you will have eaten and you will feel bloated. This mix will affect you mentally and your training will suffer.
9. How much Coffee?
I love my coffee but in moderation. Over use can cause adrenal gland fatigue. It also raises cortisol levels which aids in the storing of fat. Aim for green tea, or Aminos Energy BCAA's if you can. This is because caffeine stimulates neuron activity in the brain. Each time you drink a cup of coffee, neurons send messages to your pituitary gland which in turn alerts your adrenals to pump out adrenaline and cortisol. In short; caffeine instantly puts you into 'fight or flight' mode. If you’re drinking several cups a day, it’s likely your whole nervous system is on constant red alert without you even knowing it. Watch for other food and drinks that contain caffeine too. Some diet soft drinks contain significant levels of caffeine which can throw your healthy eating plan off schedule. Watch out for pre-workouts and energy drinks as they all add up. Taking the supplement Rhodiola can help counter act this fatigue.
10. Enjoy your food!
Eating healthy, wholesome foods does not need to be boring. I adore my food and I look forward to my meals now that I am not prepping for a competition. All it takes is some imagination and a good foundation of food. Preparation is key. I have my cupboards and fridge filled with my go-to bits and pieces to make a whole range of foods. I have loads of herbs and spices, my macro hack items in the fridge, loads fresh fruit & vegetables I top up daily and I use Kerrigans Foods for Fitness products everyday too. I get my weekly shop of turkey burgers, turkey mince (which I make loads of dishes with), chicken sausages, lean beef mince, Meatzza's and their delicious fakeaway range. The quality is far better than anything I’ve tried in the past too. I order on Monday and get everything for the week delivered on Tuesday. Super convenient!
11. The 80/20 rule
Finally, remember the 80/20 rule. You need to live your life and enjoy it. You do not need to be stressing about food all day everyday it is not healthy. There should be NO restrictions and NO food guilt. Unless you are an athlete then you don’t have to live like one. I choose to compete and I was willing to make the sacrifices needed to reach my goal and become a champion, however I would not go through that for anything less nor do you need to …eat well 80% of the time and you’re doing bloody great. You cannot out-train a bad diet, it will always catch up with you. Being healthy and fit needs to be for life, not just a holiday… and you know what? Eat the flipping slice of cake!
Follow Jenni’s journey on instagram @jenni_trx for all PT and media enquires mail [email protected]