My Vegan Month: The Round-Up

December 1, 2017

So Vegan Month has come to an end, and we need a round-up post. I would have written this yesterday but, you know, I was too busy making seitan from scratch… 😉

So. Let’s revisit my first post and answer my own questions…

Did I feel any healthier eating 100% vegan?

Hm. Yes, on balance I did. I always eat a lot of veggies anyway, cook all my own food, rarely if ever get takeaway etc. But what I noticed during Vegan Month is that I just bought less snacky sweet “excess” stuff. This was mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to read the labels on everything. I know there’s vegan chocolate, vegan icecream, etc. But I just kind of couldn’t be bothered. As a result, the amount of unplanned snacking definitely went down. I also ate a lot less in the way of sauces and dressings (because so many of them have milk/cream/egg). My diet was a lot simpler as a vegan.

Did I sleep better?

No change here. My sleep is largely dictated by the noise levels of my neighbours.

Has my body changed at all (composition and/or size?) 

Weight has stayed the same, but then again I did make an effort to eat the same calories as previously, so I wouldn’t expect a change. I do think I look a bit leaner, but this could be because of training frequency which has increased these past few weeks.

Is my training performance affected at all (better/worse)?

I’ve been training hard and feeling good. The only times I’ve felt shit in training is when I’ve been exhausted (see above re: noisy neighbours).

Did I feel hungrier?

No, not at all. In fact maybe less hungry?

How easy (or not) was it to hit my normal macros? 

My protein went down and carbs went up. It was difficult to hit higher protein (because vegan protein is all mixed in with carbs), and difficult not to eat higher carb (same reason). I was hitting around 250g carbs a day with no effort at all – just because carbs are kind of everywhere with a vegan way of eating. This is fine by me, by the way, I have no issue with carbohydrate! I felt/performed/look much the same or perhaps a bit better. Protein wasn’t low (lowest was something like 125g) but lower than pre-vegan diet.

What kind of recipes/meals did I end up cooking, and will I keep any of them in my regular diet?

Sorry, did I mention that I made seitan from scratch? I did? Oh. Well I also made lots of curry-type things with tofu and/or pulses. (Some of the recipes are here.) And I discovered fava beans, which I made into a kind of daal with turmeric and spices. I really enjoyed everything I made (I guess it would be odd if I didn’t, given that I made them?!) and will keep them in my regular diet. I will actually make seitan again!

Will I carry on with all or any of my vegan food choices after 30th November?

Definitely. No milk or yoghurt – the thought had been making me feel a bit “ick” for a long time before I did this vegan experiment. I’ll carry on using non-dairy milk. I doubt I’ll want yoghurt but if I do, there’s Alpro. I really dislike honey. I suspect I’ll go back to regular cheese. I will eat eggs and egg whites again. As for meat? I will eat it again, but I don’t have any specific plans. I didn’t get any meat out of the freezer last night ready to eat today. And I haven’t eaten any today. I am looking forward to a bit of salmon and – oddly – tinned tuna.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following this month-long eating experiment. If you have any questions for me, please ask and I’ll do some follow up posts.

All the Vegan Month posts can be found here >> Vegan Month experiment <<.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

 

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#6 – 7 Ways Copywriting Is Crucial For Your Fitness Business (About Me profiles)

October 26, 2017
Today: writing your About Me page (or any kind of profile/bio).
(Check out the posts about videos and video scripts, emails and email marketing, blog posts, website copy and ebooks.

Isn’t Writing “About Me” Easy? I Just Talk About…. Me…. No?

Do you want to bore your readers straight off the page and leave them with absolutely no idea of what life would be like working with you?

Then no, ideally not.

Yes, if you run a business, you do need to tell people about yourself (especially if you are the face of the brand). You might do this on your website, in your social media bios, within sales pages, and as an author bio when you write guest blog posts.

But how much thought do you put into those little “about me” profiles?

“About Me” Is A Marketing Tool Too

Stop thinking of about me/profiles as a footnote and start thinking of them as a key part of your marketing and brand awareness.

It can be challenging to get all the key points into an “about me” section, especially on social media, but that’s good practice. Make your bio sharp and succinct, interesting, and on brand.

9 Things To Remember

If you’re struggling to write an engaging profile/bio/about me section that doesn’t bore people to death, bear these points in mind:

  1. know who you’re talking to. The messaging, tone, and language of your bio should change according to your audience, just like any other bit of copy should.
  2. don’t just include facts and boring info (tip: nobody cares about you, they care about what you can do for them)
  3. make your about me/profile be about the reader. I know, sounds weird. But it needs to be about you in the context of what you do for other people.
  4. share your values, character, and what makes you different. Why should the reader work with you?
  5. tell the story of your professional journey. People love stories, and this is the best way to get all that boring info in without just listing a load of facts.
  6. show how you’ve provided solutions in the past, and how you can help the reader now. This is another creative way of getting those boring facts in, but in story form.
  7. give a sense of what it’s like to work with you. Do this through stories, language, and tone.
  8. build a sense of connection, familiarity, and trust
  9. add a call to action or at the very least a way to contact you

Here are a few examples of About Me/profiles I’ve written

Kirk Miller About Me page

Boldanic (supplements) About Us/company story page

Tony Cottenden Top Condition PT About Me page

Adam Cam About Me page

For more fitness industry copywriting chat, join me on Facebook– and stay tuned here for the final post in the series.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who has been writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry since 2004. Get in touch via Facebook, or by sending a message here.

 


#4 – 7 Ways Copywriting Is Crucial For Your Fitness Business (Emails)

October 20, 2017

Number 4 in this blog series about ways you should be using copywriting in your fitness business is: emails.

(Check out the posts about blog posts, website copy and ebooks).

Do You Just Mean Sending Emails To My Clients?

Not exactly. Email marketing is (as the name suggests) a marketing tool. So your “email marketing” emails are different to the regular individual emails you send to clients for check-ins etc.

Email marketing is mass emailing your list (or breaking your list into segments to send more specific messages): for daily or weekly “newsletter” style emails, or to market/sell a product or service.

I Heard Email Marketing Is Dead

Yeah, no, it’s not. Obviously you need to get it right – and that starts way back before you send an email. It starts with putting out consistent valuable content, then successfully asking people to hand over their email address so you can build a list.

But once you’ve got a list, and something useful and truly valuable to tell them about, email is a great way to talk directly to prospective clients in a one-on-one way. It’s almost like a conversation between the two of you.

And that is exactly how it should feel to the person reading your emails.

Remember when I said that you should always write as if you’re talking to just one person? After all, your reader will most likely be alone when they read your copy.

Emails are a great way to remind yourself of this point. When you write emails to your list, imagine one single individual receiving that email: on their phone (probably), or maybe at their desk during a quick coffee break.

How To Use Email Marketing In A Fitness Business

  • daily/weekly regular emails to give value and build familiarity
  • pre launch emails to warm people up for a new product or service
  • as an entire sales sequence
  • post sign-up/thank you/welcome emails
  • to measure results with certain splits/sub sections of your list
  • for retargeting purposes

Make Sure Your Emails Do Their Job!

Spend plenty of time crafting great subject lines (so the damn email gets opened in the first place!), body copy that entertains/informs/educates, and then (when relevant) a strong call to action (CTA).

For more fitness industry copywriting chat, join me on Facebook – and stay tuned here for the next five posts in this series.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who has been writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry since 2004. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


#1 – 7 Ways Copywriting Is Crucial For Your Fitness Business (Website Copy)

October 16, 2017

Over the next seven days, I’ll talk about seven ways that copywriting is crucial for your fitness business.

Today: website copy.

What is website copy?

It simply means the words on your website. Whether it’s the home page, product/services page, contact us, your bio, the “our story” or “about us” bit, or a more salesy page like a squeeze page, landing page, or long form sales page. Any words on your website is “copy”.

Why does your website need copy?

Well, it would look pretty bare with just images and graphics. Even a headline or a call to action box is “copy”.

The words on your website need to persuade the reader to do something. Sign up, join up, get in touch, engage, order, buy!

Of course a website will also have information on it (who you are, what you offer).

But it shouldn’t really be about you. It should mostly be about THEM. Why are you the right person to help them, and why now? How well do you understand them, and how will you solve their problems?

Whether it’s just a simple landing page, or a full website with products and services, stories and social proof, blogs and a members’ area…your website needs copywriting.

Here are a few examples of web copy I’ve written:

Web copy for a Personal Trainer Tony Cottenden at Top Condition PT
Web copy for online Fitness Coach Kirk Miller
And online Coach Adam Cam
Web copy for sports nutrition Bulk Powders
Web copy for a sports NGB Swim Wales

For more fitness industry copywriting chat, join me on Facebook – and stay tuned here for the other six posts in this series.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


A New Sport Every Month: Roller Derby

September 29, 2017

What’s got 8 wheels, a gum shield, and a witty pseudonym?
A Roller Derby athlete!

Yep, I did Roller Derby.

I’ve decided to try one new sporty thing every month. Partly to stop my training from getting stale, partly to meet new folk, and partly for the LOL factor.

Because we all know I’m no good with:

– falling down (or prospect thereof)
– jumping/moving both feet off the ground at the same time
– any form of agility

September’s A New Sport Every Month was pretty funny (…mostly for the instructors…)

What Is Roller Derby?

Just about the further thing from my comfort zone that you can imagine.

No But Really, What IS Roller Derby?

Roller Derby is a contact team sport on roller skates. Two teams of five players skate counter-clockwise around a track, during “jams” (point-scoring bouts) that last up to 2 minutes.

One of each team’s five players is the “jammer” who can score points. The other four are “blockers” – defensive/offensive players whose role is to block the other team’s jammer, and to protect their own jammer so she can lap the other team to score.

Two things really appealed to me about Roller Derby.

1) It originated as a female-only sport, and men’s teams are a much more recent thing. Roller Derby is closely tied up with themes of feminism and body positivity and, at entry level, it’s an amazingly encouraging, empowering sport for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels.

2) The names. I mean, come on. At my trial session I met Demi Lition, Hellen Degenerate, and Brute 66. In teams around the world, you’ll find Brazilian Whacks, Tess of the Derbywheels, and Nancy Raygun.

Roller Derby has been around since the 1940s, but fell off the radar until recent years. It’s enjoying a massive surge in interest now, so when I realised we have a local team, I signed up for the Open Day.

I didn’t get to actually play (that would have been asking way too much of my first hour on skates!) But I learned some of the basic skills: how to fall (various ways!), stop, speed up, and turn. We got to watch the Rec League in training, and then saw the main competitive team practising.

I asked Demi Lition, Founder of Kent Roller Girls, to tell you more. about Roller Derby.

Who is Roller Derby suitable for?

Pretty much everyone. You don’t need any experience or fitness level to start, and there’s no particular shape or size of person it suits best. You just need to be prepared to fall over a lot!

What does basic, entry-level Roller Derby consist of?

Most teams run a variation of beginners sessions. These can be a course over a set number of weeks, or continual drop-in sessions. My team – Kent Roller Girls – runs a recreational league. Skaters can join at any time with any level of experience, and we will teach you everything you need to know. You can take as long as you want/need to learn the skills, before getting to the level of playing games. Our rec league needs absolutely no experience whatsoever to join! Just the willingness to learn something completely new

Can you do Roller Derby as exercise/training and never compete (if you want)?

You can indeed! Recreational teams are great for this. There’s no pressure on skaters to compete, and you can focus on the fun side of the sport and of skating. There’s a place for everyone in the sport.

What does Roller Derby do for a body?

Roller Derby is all about the bum and thighs! (Nic: I concur! I “do legs” twice a week but the day after trying Roller Derby, my adductors, abductors, and glutes were sore!) You spend the majority of your skating time in a stance known as “Derby stance” – a slight squat position – which you definitely feel when you start skating! You build a lot of power in your legs to get yourself around that track. And as you make your way towards actually competing you need to be able to skate at a certain speed for a length of time which really helps with improving cardio.

Roller Derby has done more for my body confidence than anything else ever has. And a lot of people will say the same. It’s a sport for everyone, no matter what body shape, and we’re all as valuable to the team as each other. We all have our strengths based on our sizes and we all learn how to use them to our advantage. I’ve gone from hiding in baggy shirts and tracksuit bottoms, to wearing shorts in front of crowds of people. I hadn’t worn shorts in public for 15 years!

Thanks, Demi! :)

Go and visit Kent Roller Girls’s website or KRG on Facebook. Where is your local Roller Derby team? Why not look out for an open day, or pop along to their Rec League to give it a go.

Do you do Roller Derby? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks to Kent Roller Girls for the open day 🙂

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


National Fitness Day – What Does Fitness Mean To YOU?

September 27, 2017

NFD blog

Happy National Fitness Day! It’s the annual UK-wide celebration of fitness (exercise, training, sport, activity… whatever you choose to call it).

What do you choose to call it? And what does it mean to you?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Why do I make time to get to the gym, work so hard that I’m often aching for a few days, and bother to set goals (goals that often nobody knows about except me and my training log book)?

I’m not a pro athlete. The effort and investment I put into training won’t necessarily come back to me. Life might well be easier if I didn’t know or care about training!

Yet I do it. Almost every day. For years – decades, actually – now.

Why?

I didn’t start out this way. I guess very few people, unless their parents are elite athletes and they were born into a sporty household, given a tennis racquet/put on horse/thrown off a diving board before they could walk 😉

So why have I persisted with training, general lifestyle fitness, and sometimes pretty high-level sport? It must be because of what it MEANS to me.

Fitness means health

Some of the extreme goals I have pursued in the name of sport haven’t been healthy (swimming the Channel, dieting down to bodybuilding-stage-lean). The sharp end of sport often isn’t. But on a day-to-day basis, fitness means health. This year has hammered this home to me. A couple of close family members have been through serious illness, and that stuff puts things into perspective. I want to be fit so my heart is as healthy as possible for as long as possible. I want to build and keep muscle so my body stays strong for as long as possible. Cardio matters. Muscle tissue matters. Activity levels matter.

Fitness means growth

Not just physical – although as a bodybuilder, that is important to me. (I actually think it should be important to anyone: after the age of about 30, our muscle mass starts to atrophy and bones lose density. By trying to “grow”, you’ll stand a decent change of keep one step ahead!) Setting myself personal fitness goals and working towards them helps me grow in confidence, learn new skills, and develop myself.

Fitness means confidence

I have no idea if I’d be the same kind of person without fitness. But I’m pretty sure that my regular fitness routine, goal setting, and achievements, empower me with a lot of confidence. Fitness is all you. Even if you’ve got a Personal Trainer, a coach, or team mates. What YOU achieve is all down to YOU. And it’s not always easy. Once you’ve achieved a fitness goal, you know you can achieve more – in business, in relationships, in finance, in life.

Fitness means fun

A lot of my social circle comes from fitness, and I’m not at all ashamed to say that. Fitness has given me friends, contacts, and an entire world of likeminded people. Training with a partner is about more than just the exercise session. It’s about friendship, talking, listening, making a human connection. The same goes for any hobby, of course. But with fitness, you’re getting healthier at the same time!

Fitness means sanity!

Training, a long walk, any kind of exercise on/in water, and even a sweaty gym cardio class gives me an important outlet for stress, high emotion, or an attack of the blahs. It’s one of my most important – and reliable – coping mechanisms. Exercise boosts my mood, lifts my spirits, and helps me put things into perspective. It also helps me work – some of my best ideas come to me when I’m physically active.

I asked a couple of fitness friends to tell you why fitness is so important to them.

Girl on the River, what does fitness mean to you?

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“Fitness has fundamentally changed my life and how I feel about myself. Becoming fit has given me body confidence I never had, makes me feel strong and healthy and has given me a load of amazing friends. Finding a sport I love has also made it really fun, which I never thought possible.”  Twitter: Girl On The River

And Lucy Fry, how about you?

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 19.18.56

“Fitness means… freedom to express myself, strength to embrace life, and help with slowing the chatter inside my mind. It’s been a support in difficult times; a source of joy, pride and excitement…!” Twitter: Lucy Fry

 

 

 

Over to you: what does fitness mean to you?

National Fitness Day is an annual awareness day from ukactive, the non-profit organisation whose mission is to get more people, more active, more often.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


Book Review: “Science & Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” (Brad Schoenfeld)

September 7, 2016

brad schoenfeld book review nicola joyce
When Human Kinetics asked if I’d like to review Dr. Brad Schoenfeld’s new book – “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy”, I didn’t hesitate. Brad is one of a small number of people in this industry who I trust as an authoritative voice. He’s one of my go-to sources for research and smart discussion around the science of gaining muscle.

I interviewed Brad ages ago for Muscle & Fitness magazine and have followed him (online, not literally, that would be weird and impractical) ever since.

“Science and Development…” is Brad’s latest book. It’s the ultimate resource if you’re interested in the current research behind muscle hypertrophy. But before I get into my review – and why you really need to get a copy of this book – here’s how to follow Brad so you can stay up to date with what he has to say. >> Brad Schoenfeld PhD on Facebook and on his website/blog.

What is muscle hypertrophy? It’s the fancy name for increasing muscle size. So this book is essentially about the Science of Swole.

The book is exhaustive. It covers every factor which could influence muscle hypertrophy, including training, nutrition, genetics, gender, and age.

It’s divided into seven chapters:

Hypetrophy related responses and adaptations to exercise stress
The mechanisms of hypertrophy
Role of resistance training variables in hypertrophy
Role of aerobic training in hypertrophy
Factors in maximal hypertrophic development
Program design for maximal hypertrophy
Nutrition for hypertrophy

As you’d expect from Brad Schoenfeld, the book is a compilation of the latest science-based principles, research, and meta analyses. It’s got more than 825 references. And the most important thing (IMO)? It’s written in a very accessible, applicable way. It’s research, but it’s practical too.

Put it this way, the last time I “did science” was at GCSE (which is longer ago than I care to admit). And I can understand it just fine!

If you’re a strength, power, or physique athlete (or someone who enjoys training with weights but doesn’t compete), or if you are a coach or PT, you need this book. Anyone who is interested what happens to our bodies when we train to gain size will find it useful.

Here’s just a taster of what you’ll find in the book:

– how the body structurally and hormonally changes when exposed to stress
– ways to most effectively design training programs
– current nutrition guidelines for bringing about hypertrophic changes
– the specific responses and mechanisms that promote muscle hypertrophy
– how genetic background, age, sex, and other factors affect the hypertrophic response to exercise

There are even sample programmes to help you design a three or four-times a week undulating periodised program or a modified linear periodised programme.

As far as I can see, it leaves no muscle hypertrophy stone unturned. And if there’s one person I’d trust to do a great job on this topic, it’s Brad.

What more do you want, people? Get it, read it, apply it. 🙂

You can get the book (hard copy, PDF, eBook) from Human Kinetics or from Amazon.

Book Review: “Science & Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” (Brad Schoenfeld) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.