Dealing in absolutes

Dealing in absolutes isn’t a good idea. When we use terminology such as good or bad or ‘always’ and ‘never’ it creates a false dichotomy.


Which is an informal fallacy based on a premise. That erroneously limits what options are available. The source of the fallacy lies not in an invalid form of inference but in a false premise.


And limiting options is not a good thing. Especially when it comes to methods of improving your health.


You may have asked ‘is this good for me?’


And the answer will likely be – it comes down to the amount!


One doughnut will not make you unhealthy just the same as one salad will not make you healthy.


We as human beings always look to simplify things. But when it comes to sleep, stress, food and exercise it’s not applicable.


To simplify and state that all stress is bad would be ignorant. As a certain amount of stress is beneficial to us (the amount depends on the individual).


To say that sugar is bad and you should never have it would be extreme and irrelevant. As it offers benefits both physiologically and psychologically.


Claiming that only sleep under certain conditions is good, also erroneous.


When we strive for these extremes and perfections only to fall short it can quite often be damaging. That’s why I propose you don’t!


Instead of being inconsistently perfect with your diet, exercise, stress, and sleep. Aim for being consistently alright. That is when you’ll start to notice improvement.


To do this, rather than thinking in switches (‘on’ or ‘off’) think in dials (1-10). It adds flexibility and sustainability when gauging the health practices in your life.

Immediate gratification

I know the process of exercise doesn’t feel good, in fact, it’s quite the opposite at the time. Being hot, sweaty, uncomfortable it’s quite an ordeal.

The same goes for food choices, it’s effort to cook a meal that will be better for you than a takeaway.

And getting to bed at a reasonable time rather than staying up for some more down time is tough.

Putting time aside to journal or meditate is also a challenge. Because at the back of your mind you know you’ve got a lot on your plate and you could be tackling some of that.

Doing these things gives us a short lived sense of achievement. From knowing that we’ve done something good for our health, but it’s negligible.

Everything else in our lives we get immediate gratification from. A take away meal or fast food gives us a big wave of dopamine. A cigarette gives us a nicotine hit, an alcoholic beverage gives us a buzz. Ordering something online arrives next day (sometimes the same day, thanks Mr Bezos)

It’s hard because we live in a world that caters for immediate gratification. Yet, these acute immediate gratifications are short lived. And some even come with remorse!

They’re very easy to fall into the habit of doing. When you’re busy with work and kids you might not be prepared to eat that well. Also, eating the stuff that’s not so great for you feels good when you’re stressed (thanks alot dopamine).

It’s easy not to go to the gym because ‘you haven’t got time’ or ‘you’re not feeling up for it’

It’s easy to watch another episode and stay up late because your day hasn’t included any time for you. It’s been all work, work, work.

With exercise, sleep, your diet, stress management there isn’t an clear or immediate feel-good association. Only the pat on the back you give yourself.

This immediate gratification is what you are fighting against in order to make a change.

Not giving into the things that feel good now but doing the things that will pay off later. Delayed gratification. The gratification that comes from achieving confidence from looking and feeling good. That feeling of being stronger, healthier, energised takes a bit of time.

But, imagine waking up every day feeling good, happy with what you see in the mirror. Thinking ‘you know what I’m going to change my social media profile pic to not just a headshot’.

‘I’m going to get those jeans from that store’.

This gratification will not be short lived! This will be with you for the foreseeable future, long-term happiness.

The blame game

The big mindset switch for me, the thing that has helped me the most, was from when I was studying psychology.


It was something that resonated with me and has been so important in my perspective of life. Thinking about it today it’s almost like a secret that I’m so glad came to hear about.


This secret, this Bastian of power is taking responsibility. No longer believing that other things were to blame. It was down to me. Thinking this was flipped the narrative and meant I took charge of my life.


I believe that no matter what happens to me I created it on some level. I am responsible for it. It it’s not there because of my physical actions it’s there because of my mental action. Thoughts of things which I’ve attracted.


And here is why you might want to adopt this belief system, because the alternative is scary! Let me explain. If you’re not in control of your life, you’re not responsible. If you blame others or circumstances, you’ve got a big problem! Because you have no power to change it. You are impotent.


But with the belief system I’m proposing to you. the belief that you are not a victim of circumstance. If you believe that whatever has happened is down to you generating it on some level. Then if you don’t like it you can change it!


Do you see where I’m going with this? My point being that I’m not trying to make you feel culpable. But I’m empower you, so if you don’t like how things are going you know you can change them.


In victim mode the following things or circumstances are responsible for your health:


Carbs

Thyroid/slow metabolism

Big bones

Lack of time

Body type


When you take control /responsibility what you’ll see is that your poor health and fitness is down to:


Lack of self control

Unaware of energy balance

Overestimating your calorie expenditure

Rewarding yourself with food

Poor food choices

Poor stress coping mechanisms


Now I know it’s easy to play the blame game. I’ve been there. The universe, him, her, this, that and everything else but myself, was to blame for why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.


But once you take responsibility for everything, good or bad. You can take credit for the wins. But you must also take responsibility when it doesn’t go your way. Knowing that you can change it!


You are 100% in control of your health and fitness!

Baptism of fire

I remember when I first started in a Health Club many years ago and I had a consultation with a new client.


When I asked him about his goals I was a little taken back by what happened next.


He went to his bag and out from it he pulled a copy of Men’s Health magazine. He held the magazine and pointed to the bronzed Adonis on the front cover.


‘I want this guy’s body’ he said.


In my head I was thinking ‘this is something one would do in a barbers’.


This was one of my first consultations and turned out to be quite the baptism of fire. The rest of the consultation was spent managing expectations and understanding why he wanted this man’s body.


I mean the chap on the cover looked great and I could see the appeal. In my teens I would have had copies of these magazines and trying to emulate the model on the cover. Thinking this is what I need to look like.
Needless to say I never came close (partly because the info in the magazines was so confusing). Partly because of what I’m about to tell you next.
His goal, although endearing, didn’t make sense. He wanted to look like someone else!


I had to the explain to the portly, middle aged gentleman sitting in front of me. The professional model on the front cover had spent years training and nourishing himself to achieve that physique. It was his job to look like that.
Also the model would take extra steps in the months leading up to the shoot. Lighting, tanning, makeup and airbrushing would do the rest.


I told him that ‘the guy on the cover doesn’t even look like the guy on the cover!’


I explained to the gentleman that it would be prudent to focus on himself and getting his body to the best it can be. And we agreed on goals that were going to make him feel good about his body, improve his confidence and health.


This instance wasn’t a one off. I noticed more and more guys were proposing the same thing in consultations. And I know why. It’s because we are constantly subjected to these images of physical perfection. Magazines, advertisements, commercials etc. And we compare and contrast. We look at other people’s chapter twenty and compare it to our chapter one. This seldom feels good and it seems so far removed and unobtainable we become apathetic.


Now, if you didn’t already know; comparison is the thief of joy! So don’t do that! It’s not going to help. Yes you can appreciate the time and effort these people have devoted, but that is all.


When setting your goals concentrate on improving yourself. Becoming a better version of you, then put your energy into the small steps to achieve that. Things like:


*Eating better, without dieting or feeling deprived.

*Being active, no matter what shape you’re in now.

*Ditching the food rules, dropping the fad diets, and conflicting advice. *Building fitness into your life, without it taking over.

*Achieving and maintaining your goals, even when life gets busy.


Which will see you:


*Losing the weight/fat you haven’t been able to shed for years.

*Building physical strength and confidence in your body.

*Gaining mental confidence, no longer hiding your gifts and talents.

*Letting go of food confusion, learning what to do, how to do it.

*Getting off the diet roller coaster once and for all, and never looking back.


So, stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to your previous self.

What alchemy is this?!

You see your co worker, friend or family member at meal times and they seem to have a lot of food on their plate.

This isn’t the first time you’ve noticed. You ask yourself ‘how do they eat so much and stay slim?’


It feels like you’ve got hardly anything on your plate but you’re stuck in XL clothing. Nothing you’re doing is going to get you back into your suits. And now you’ve had to bite the bullet and buy the next size up.


All sorts of reasons come into your head to make sense of what is happening.


Maybe they have one of those fast metabolisms?!


‘Their meal seems to be low in carbs maybe that’s it?!’


You want to put an end to your curiosity but a thought stops you:


I couldn’t possible ask them how they are eating so much and stay so slim that would be rude.


So you there you are, left in wonderment.


Let me explain what is going on and put you out of your misery and confusion.


This is the majesty of energy balance at work.

That person has an equal amount of energy coming in as they do going out. Over the long term.


What you are seeing is a snap shot of that persons day, one food serving. You don’t get to see what they do for the rest of the day.


Unbeknown to you that big meal that you saw them eat could be the only meal they are consuming all day (calories in).


Unbeknown to you they could be a super active person through the day. They might also exercise in the morning a bit more in the evening (calories out).


In answer to your question; their energy intake matches their energy output over the long term. Calories in match calories out.


Your body is very comfortable in this position and won’t try and convince you to move from this point. Only when you start changing your weight will your body push back and convince you to stop.


The most important thing to take from this is; if you are trying to lose weight but it doesn’t seem to be happening. It’s because your calorie intake is matching your calorie output.


So what you need to do is tip the energy balance scales in your favour. To see you expending more calories than you are consuming. This is what is known as an energy deficit and is the mechanism that every weight loss diet works on. Every single one. It’s only the methods to get you to achieve this that differ from diet to diet.


When looking to lose weight you need a starting point! And you want to keep it as simple as possible. You need to know your energy requirements for weight loss (a daily or weekly target).

Then you need to record what your energy intake is. (Don’t say I’ll tot it up in my head, you are not rain man, plus you’ll be way out). Use something simple like a tracker (MyFitnessPal).


Sticking to this will see you achieve weight loss, but that’s only one half of having a healthy diet. The other is making sure that 80% of the energy/calories you are consuming are from nutrient dense foods.


Stick with this and it won’t be long before you might get someone plucking up the courage to ask you;


‘How do you eat so much and stay so slim?’


If you need more help with this get your copy of my Guide to Vitality.

Danger on the climb down

I read a fascinating article yesterday about mountain climbers. It was the Headline that caught my attention;

Mount Everest record-holder says — ‘it’s the trek down that kills people!

Veteran Everest climber Kami Rita Sherpa — (who holds the world record for Everest summits with 24 to his name). Said all Everest climbers should focus on making sure they have enough energy to get back down the mountain.

And that’s the thing, most people don’t even consider the journey down. All their attention is on clambering up 8849 meters of rock reaching the summit and celebrating.

Which is the same when people are working on a weight loss goal, when they manage to meet their goal weight they fail with keeping it off!

Most people don’t even contemplate the part where it comes to maintaining their new shape. (That’s if they get there).

Which is why so many people rebound hard to a wosre postion than which they started. That’s because they only tackled the diet aspect of their lifestyle and not the other aspects which have an effect on their diet.

They are hanging by a thread. Until the other factors that haven’t been addressed (stress, poor recovery, poor sleep, inactivity) start to make an impact. Then the diet gives way, which sees the weight rebound.

Your weight management is an indicator that those other factors in your life are in a good place (excluding smokers). So it is prudent that those things are addressed as well as your diet.

Rather than all the attention put on your diet, getting to a certain weight, falling down the mountain and ending up in a mess at the bottom.

If you are in need of a Sherpa to guide you on the health and fitness terrain click here.

Small commitments, big results

When addressing health and fitness the common misconception is that it you have to make some dramatic overhaul to your life.


That countless hours will have to spent at the gym on exercises you detest.


Your diet will have to be drastically adjusted and a large chunk of time will be spent with meal prepping.


Sleep, stress and recovery plans will impact your week placing even more time constraints on you.


When the reality is you only need to adjust what you are already doing. No more time required just optmising what you are already doing.


The time you spend exercising will not change only the exercises and how you organise that training. To ensure that you are building muscle and boosting testosterone levels.


The time you assign to your diet will not change only the choices you make with your meal selections. To ensure that you are energised and managing your weight.


Sleep and recovery can be improved so that your performance is better. Because improving your performance is not about how hard you can go at it. It’s about how well you can recover.


Knowing this is important because time is precious and what with juggling other demands. Working long hours. Caring for family. Trying to manage a business. And so on. The last thing you want to feel like is that you have to give more time to something.


With The Limitless Lifestyle Blueprint you have a Health Professional take care of everything for you. All the heavy lifting is done. No more guess work. No more time wasted doing redundant diets. Irrelevant exercise routines, or erroneous sleep and stress regimes. You have a plan to follow and support and accountability along the way.


The only extra time you need to set aside are for our weekly check ins. Where we go over what progress you’ve been making with performance and what, needs adjusting as your body changes and if your lifestyle changes.


Not more time, time better spent.

How to stay motivated

The most common questions I get asked are revolve around motivation;


‘how do you keep it going’,


‘how do you stay motivated’,


‘how do you get to the gym X amount of times a week’,


‘how are you so consistent with your sleep?’,


‘how do you maintain you physique?’.


The answer is…


…I have a plan! In my diary, everything is in there. My workouts, my meal times and my sleep.


Before I did this everything was so hap hazard and off the cuff. I was finding time instead of making time for the things essential to health and fitness.

That’s where the consistency comes from, having a routine! This structure and organisation omits the reliance on motivation. It’s overridden! My sleep regime, my exercise sessions etc. become a matter of course.


This plan for my lifestyle is one I can stick to and that I enjoy. because I have factored in the salient things and I do them day in day out, excellent health is the outcome.


By making time for the important things it makes motivation redundant. I do them regardless. Sometimes my motivation is high to do these things and sometimes it is low.


Because motivation is fickle, but routine and habit is consistent! And being consistent with your regime is how you achieve optimal health.


Another thing to consider is to make sure that your regime is realistic and enjoyable. Because if it is not, it is going to be difficult to stick to. And then you start bringing motivation into the equation. Motivation is what you don’t want to be reliant on/use.


Don’t get me wrong the times I’m motivated I embrace it and take full advantage of it. I’ll push myself a little harder, be more accurate with tasks and my productivity will be higher! But it’s not the foundation or the deciding factor in my actions.


The most important questions I ask my clients are ‘how often can you assign to this?’ ‘How many times a week can you exercise?’ ‘What’s a realistic bedtime for you?’ ‘What foods do you enjoy eating’ and ‘how many meal times do you prefer in a day?’
Because the best plan for your health and fitness is one that you can stick to! (And obviously one that gets you results).


Yes there are exercises that are going to be optimal for improving body composition. And to ensure that they are getting what their body requires for optimal function. And a few adjustments may have to be made. But you have got to be able to stick to it and enjoy it. And there in lies the secret sauce, adherence! It is the same with diet, if I tell you it’s chicken and broccoli for the rest of your days, you’re going to say ‘Andrew, kindly f*%k off!’.


This is why food plans are stupid. You’ve cultivated your diet over years and you eat at convenient times. To completely overhaul your diet is ludicrous! You won’t last very long before you throw in the towel and you are back with the diet you had before. But a nutrition plan well, that’s your diet tweaked to ensure you are getting the macronutrients inside of the meals you like.


I have had friends tell me that they had done a certain personal trainer’s, (let’s call him Joe) diet plan. And they lasted only a couple of weeks. Because ‘prepping like a boss’ (making meals for the week and putting them in Tupperware). And ‘eating clean’ is miles away from their normal diet. No wonder only 10% of the people that buy his plan complete it!


So when you’re thinking about sleep, stress management tactics, exercise and diet. Think about what you enjoy doing and you won’t need motivation!

5 tips to improve your health

Emotional intelligence – just because you feel it doesn’t mean you have to act on it!


Eating/drinking something when influenced by our emotions is a way we can get ourselves into a bit of a pickle! i.e. I’ve had a stressful day at work. A typical response – I’m going to drink alcohol or eat something uber high calorie to make me feel better. If you can recognise the emotion then you can work on controlling the response. Or chose a more positive response; exercise to relieve the stress instead.


Write it down


Whether it be your menu for the week or your gym sessions in the diary. You are much more likely to adhere to it if you write it down! At the start of the week chose a menu of the meals you are going to have. That way you remove the need for last minute convenience food, which are going to derail your efforts.

Planning your gym sessions in your diary is beneficial to you achieving them. This allows you to factor them into your week from a time management perspective. It also puts them in line, importance wise with other things in your calendar i.e work, family time.


Trigger foods


These are the foods that you can’t have one of! The foods/snacks that once you open, the whole pack is gone. You know the stuff; the diary milk bar you keep in the cupboard. The big pack of crisps you open to sit down and watch tv with. Remove them or replace them with a low calorie alternative.


Exercise 


Motivation and confidence are going to be the initial factors to contend with. Start off with going to classes, finding a gym buddy or hiring a coach to keep you motivated and accountable. These things will keep you motivated until a habit forms. Once that is in place you won’t need motivation anymore.


Environment 


Engineer the environment you need to help you succeed. This could be getting involved with people or a group that is into fitness either online or in person. Assimilating with that group/individual will see you making better, healthier lifestyle choices. After all, your environment is the invisible hand that guides you!

The guilt trip

Ever feel guilty taking time for yourself?

I know most people I speak to do. When they are doing things to benefit their health like exercise, taking relaxation time, meditating. They tell me that they feel guilty for not spending that time on their work or with their family.

It’s not surprising. I’ll use the example of when you last got a course of medicine from the doctor. I bet you didn’t finish it and the bottle/packet is still in your medicine cupboard. But if that course of medicine was for your child or your pet you’d make sure they’d complete the course.

You downgrade your own self-care and put other things first. Which is admirable and kind but it puts your health on a negative trajectory.

You may even perceive this time for yourself as selfish. So many people are this way inclined. Self-care almost seems taboo. You have so much to do. And the thought of taking some of that precious time out of your day for yourself seems egocentric.

Combine that with time pressures and the fact change is hard. Well, 
time for your health and fitness seems even less appealing. I implore you to put your health on par with the other things in your life. If you don’t then that’s the real selfish act. Sooner or later your poor health will impact others. Their time, their concerns for you, or them following your example!

And if you put emphasis on your health and fitness you will see this change permeate other areas in your life. You’ll feel better, your energy will increase. Your quality of life will improve. Which will benefit your family, and your work. 

I know you are there nodding saying ‘you’re right Andrew’. But knowing and implementing are 2 very different things. They are worlds apart. This is why the single best thing you can do is factor in time for yourself. Put it in your diary/scheduler. This will increase the likelihood of you getting it done (by a significant amount). From doing this you have accounted for it and you have set the intention.

Then the next challenge is for you to stick with it, to complete that course of medicine.

Need some help with staying the course? Click here