The secret to happiness

We must keep growing!

Everything in life either grows or dies, relationships, businesses, and anything else.

If you don’t keep growing you’ll become frustrated and miserable no matter how much money you have in the bank (or rather invested in stocks and shares).

So the secret to happiness, according to Andrew, can be summed up in one word.

Progress.

Progress equals happiness!

Even if you are not there/where you want to be, but if you are making progress with the things that matter you will start to feel more fulfilled.

The second principle, if it were, is that you have to give to feel truly happy.

If you don’t give you’re limiting your happiness. You’ll never feel absolutely alive.

‘You make a living from by you get, you make a life by what you give!’.

– W. Churchill.

Sharing your gifts, your knowledge and experience to help others taps into the true nature of a human being. It isn’t to be selfish. We are driven by our desire to contribute, we want to share, it makes our lives richer to share.

If you don’t have that sense of contribution you’ll never feel truly fulfilled.

It’s also worth reminding ourselves of the obvious truth that becoming financially rich isn’t the key to fulfilment.

People often chase after money in the delusional belief that it is some kind of magic elixir that will give joy and meaning to their lives.

But money alone will never give you an extraordinary life.

I know millionaires that are miserable.

And if you’re not happy you you can’t have a magnificent life no matter how big your net worth.

Remember money doesn’t change people it just amplifies their nature.

If you have a lot of money and you’re sad and mean money will exacerbate that.

But if you have a lot of money and you are generous you’ll naturally give more.

Now there is one thing to point out here. If you are are someone that contributes to the world and gives a lot to others. There is something to be cognisant of.

That is; making everyone else happy but yourself!

You know the safety instruction the flight attendant gives you on an airplane:

‘Fix your own safety mask before helping others‘.

Well, it’s worth thinking about!

Unless you help yourself first how can you help others?

You can’t! You’ll be in trouble and you wont be able to help the people you care about!

So in order to help others, you must first help yourself. It’s imperative that you are fit, strong, and healthy so you have the energy to keep on doing what you do!

The weigh in

On your weight loss journey, there are many ways to keep tabs on your progress.

If you’re going to be stepping on the scales to gauge your progress keep reading, I’ll tell you how to do it so you get it right!

Firstly, stop weighing yourself at every possible opportunity. After a workout at the gym, when at the pharmacy, at random times of the day, or any time you see a set of scales!

There are so many variables that go into the number you see on the scales.

Weight might be down if you’ve been sweating a lot. Weight might be up if you’ve eaten a lot. Weight might be up from water retention if you’ve had a meal high in sodium or carbohydrates.

So to cut out these variables weigh yourself at the same time of day. I would advise that be first thing in the morning after going to the toilet. In minimal clothing and before you have anything to eat or drink. This weigh-in should be the only one you record.

Then it’s on you to resist the urge to step on the scales at other times of the day! As these readings will be irrelevant.

Next, when it comes to the frequency of weigh-ins I’d recommend you go for daily. Making it part of your routine. The reason being is; I don’t want you to miss a new low!

And the most important thing to bear in mind is that you will see fluctuations daily. Up one day, down the next. Going forward you are looking for a trend, a new low each week! Not each day! This will mean that what you are doing is working!

I wish you all the best with your progress.

Emotional freedom

Picture this situation, you are driving home from work after a great day and your favourite song comes on the radio.

It’s been a fantastic day and your spirits are high, so what do you do? You do what any reasonable person would do in this situation, you start singing. A little bit of head bopping, steering wheel tapping (channelling your inner Keith Moon).

You’re in your own little world loving life. Until you see the guy in the car next to you looking at you.

This is where you could go from feeling great to wishing you were invisible.

You might turn the radio down, sit back into your seat, reset your hands to the 10 and 2 position. Adjust your joyous facial expression, to one that conveys serious mature thoughts.

This example is ascribing too much importance to what other people think.

It’s not that you shouldn’t give any importance to other’s opinions. But where it crosses the line is when you care what absolute strangers think. Or people that are insignificant in your life. People you don’t respect.

These people should have no bearing on your actions or your goals. If it was up to someone else how to achieve our dreams and progress most of us wouldn’t achieve anything in our lives.

You need to base your decisions and goals on you, not other people. Too many people base their success and goals on the opinions of other people. Friends, family, co-workers.

You need to stop worrying about what other people are thinking about you and your decisions.

It is a very dangerous habit to have as it encourages you to move with the masses or conform to the group.

Here is where the emotional freedom technique will help.

Now, this is not designed to make you arrogant. Rather it resolves and dissolves the emotional reaction you have to and about other people, places and things.

To be an independent and self-confident person you need to start being more independent!

When you start to care less about what other people think you start living more. This doesn’t mean you don’t care about people.

The emotional freedom technique resolves and dissolves what you think other people think.

Have you ever thought to yourself?; ‘he or she makes me feel guilty’ Question: who is doing the feeling?

You are!

It is your reaction to what they have said or done or not done that you interpret guilt from.

Most people get it wrong about you or what you can achieve anyway. I’d like to cement this by pointing out: The Beatles were rejected. Michael Jordan didn’t make his school basketball team. Richard Branson has had more failed businesses than successful ones.

If they have worried about what others have thought you would never have heard of them.

Your feeling is created by yourself. Other people do not have the power to make you feel a certain way. You choose to feel that way! 

Using the emotional freedom technique will help you to overcome the fear of rejection.

Overcome your fear that they will think that your goals are too big and impossible for you to achieve them.

Overcome any emotional reaction to something in the past that they might have said or done.

Overcome your fear of putting yourself out there. And it will help you take the much-needed action in achieving your goals. From developing your own belief of self-worth and deserving.

With the emotional freedom technique it could be something as simple telling yourself;

Even though I’m afraid that others will think my goals are too big for me and I could never achieve them…

Even though I’m afraid of rejection’…
Even though he or she said x or did y and it made me feel…
Even though I’m not worthy of great success…

Even without being specific in detail, the emotional freedom technique will still work.

If you’re afraid about what you think others think about you doing Emotional Freedom Technique you can EFT that away too.

Another physical EFT is tapping, which like acupressure, tapping involves the body’s energy meridian points. Download my EFT tapping guide here

Your recovery Rockstar

Did you know that getting adequate and good quality sleep has a significant impact on hormone balance and muscle protein synthesis.


Outside of muscle growth, sleep deprivation has also been directly linked to an increase in appetite and as a result an increase in body fat. Because when you are not getting enough quality sleep hormones called Ghrelin and Leptin are affected and can effect our hunger levels.


Poor sleep will also lead to detrimental effects on your immune system
Because sleep helps T cells, a key part of our immune system, get to other places. Having enough T cells around to keep an eye on things means that we’re better able to start an immune response as needed.


But that’s not all. Remember that sleep helps us learn and remember? Well, it works for immune cells too.


Sleep boosts the immune system’s ability to ‘remember’ particular antigens, such as viruses. And more effectively produce antibodies or specific defenses against a particular antigen.


The most beneficial phases of sleep are the 2-3 hours of deep sleep we should experience each night. Deep sleep is very restorative and is where our stress hormone cortisol is at its lowest. And other hormones that support muscle growth are at their most potent.


Phases of sleep and the circadian system affect our immune and inflammatory responses. During this period there are changes to levels of various hormones.


These hormonal changes help boost the adaptive immune response. By helping it learn and “remember” antigens. When we sleep, our immune system is transferring what it’s learned about specific antigens (such as viruses) into its ‘long-term memory’. Which helps it recognize and respond effectively to the same antigens in future.


Cortisol is a stress-response and steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of vital body processes. And, it plays a crucial role in our sleep.
Under normal circumstances, cortisol follows a strong circadian rhythm. It’s highest when we first wake up, and decreases throughout the day.


When we don’t get enough sleep, we see less variation in the circadian rhythm of cortisol. We don’t get the highest highs in the morning, nor does cortisol drop as much in the evening.


This means that we often end up with higher measurements of cortisol after poor sleep because it doesn’t decrease like it should. On top of that, not getting enough sleep is stressful, too!


So, does it matter if we get a bad night’s sleep, or if our cortisol is too high, or both?


Yes.


Some research has suggested that cortisol could be the factor that links poor sleep to the development of depression. These things often go together.


For instance, a hallmark symptom of depression is changes in sleep. Including more awakenings in the night, difficulty falling asleep, and less deep sleep. Unsurprisingly, people who have depression often also have higher concentrations of cortisol.


If we’re able to improve our sleep and reduce our cortisol levels (i.e., deal with our sleep and stress), it will likely also help us better take care of our emotional, psychological and social well-being.


You can get started on improving your sleep quality by:

  • increasing darkness in the bedroom
  • have a regular time for going to bed
  • remove electrical equipment from the bedroom
  • maintain a cool temperature in the bedroom
  • use an alarm that will wake you up in a light sleep phase

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.

Peanuts

I’m going to share with you a story from when I was working in a Health Club.


I was delivering a seminar and afterwards a couple came to speak to me. They told me they had tried every fad diet and product that I had slammed in my talk. And they still were struggling with fat loss. I could see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices, they were desperate, at the end of their tether. We spoke briefly and they booked in for a consultation the following week.

When we met they brought with them their food diaries which I had asked for. As I reviewed their diaries I had to refrain from laughing at the bickering between them. As I went through one persons food diary the other would throw in dispersions and judgements. ‘I don’t know why you eat that crap’, ‘I told you not to eat that!’


What was confusing to me was that on reviewing their diaries, their diets looked pretty good. They were far from the best I had ever seen but far from the worst. The judgements and condescension from their partner were definitely unwarranted. It wasn’t evident understand why they were in the predicament they were.


My train of thought went to recording inaccuracy, which is very common. People underestimate their true calorie intake by astonishing percentages. I’m talking about possibly 45 percent! Depending on factors like age, sex and body composition.


I asked them in a polite way if they had recorded everything. And how accurate they thought they had been. It looked like they were very thorough. because things like takeaways and alcohol had were on there (plus the amount). Which some people tend to omit out of fear of judgement. There were even some corrections to amounts in their recording.


At this point it was a case of delving a little deeper into where things were going array. As the calories they were consuming were at an amount where they should be losing weight. I went through in detail each of the foods on their diaries to confirm amounts. And then we made a breakthrough.


I identified on both their lists a bag of peanuts. I knew the energy content of a bag of peanuts and confirmed with them it was just a bag. To throw more confusion into the mix they told me that sometimes they didn’t finish the bag. Befuddled by their congruence with what they had told me I sat there perplexed. Until a thought popped into my head.


‘Trust but verify’.


Maybe it was my assumption that had caused my confusion?!I loaded up on my phone images of different bags of peanuts. To my amazement they pointed at the bag they had been ‘snacking’ on was a kilo bag! Yep 4,300 calories per bag!


The reason for which was because they had heard that nuts were a ‘healthy’ snack. So they worked on the premise that it would be healthy to have a lot.
I explained that whilst nuts are a good source of nutrients it was the amount that was the issue.

Unless you are a heavyweight boxer or artic explorer it was unlikely you would need that much energy. Especially with their sedentary lifestyle. From here it was a simple switch to a small bag of peanuts. The most straight forward resolution I’ve ever made to improving someone’s health.


This simple change to their diet saw her close to 5 stone, and him nearly the same. But more importantly it has hugely improved the quality of their lives. They are more active, they have more energy and yes they still enjoy the odd peanut 🙂

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.

Cholesterol – The Silent Killer

Cholesterol is often dubbed the silent killer because it doesn’t manifest itself through symptoms or a person’s physical appearance.

It only get’s talked about when you hear about a co worker who keeled over on the treadmill at the gym or on his driveway cleaning his car.

Which may get you to thinking ‘how do I avoid the same fate?’

Here’s the low down on cholesterol and what steps you can take to keep it at a good level.

Firstly it’s prudent that you know what it is. Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. Cholesterol is carried in your blood by lipoproteins.

HDL (High density Lipoproteins) which some people refer to as “good cholesterol”, and higher levels are better.

LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) which people refer to as “bad cholesterol”.

Having an excessively high level of lipids in your blood can have an effect on your health. High cholesterol itself doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, but it increases your risk of serious health conditions.

Causes of high cholesterol include: Eating high levels of saturated fats (think cheese and fatty meats), smoking, having diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension).

So how do you go about being in a position where you don’t need to worry about needing a stent or shuffling off this mortal coil a bit previous. Well, being in a healthy range of body fat (not a specific weight) will put you in good stead.

Eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds. Increase soluble fibre. Soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fibre is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.

Exercise, this should include resistance or strength training which has the most health benefits of all exercise modalities.

Cut down on your alcohol intake. Yes weekends of debauchery are amusing but what about the occasional alcohol free beer or mocktail?

It’s easier said than done to say stop smoking. However, have you ever considered vaping? Which is a step in the right direction. Then from there it could be patches a bit of hypnosis (if required) and before you know it you are off the cancer sticks and an ‘ex smoker’.