Look! Something shiny!

Have you ever thought about having a super power??

I’m sure you have (mine would be the invisibility one).

But what if I told you that you could actually have a superpower?! What I’m getting at is in today’s world, sustained attention may be a superpower!

We are pulled in all directions, half-attending to everything that’s going on, and don’t know what is important or valuable.

Perhaps you’ve been in that situation: What to do first? Let me Google it! What about this blog / article / social media drama? Oh hey, look over here!

Or, you find yourself saying to someone; How about this plan? What about that plan? I did Plan A for 2 days while reading about Plan B then I jumped to Plan C and oh by the way, did you hear about Plan D?

The problem isn’t ‘not enough information’. We have more information than we know what to do with! But rarely are you going to change based on information alone.

People still smoke knowing full well it’s not a good idea!

It’s not information overload; it’s filter failure. Without a strong ‘focus filter’ (i.e., I am choosing to pay attention to THIS now), we experience the mental/cognitive stress of:

  • too much information; and
  • the effort required to pull our attention away from “shiny things” (i.e., irrelevant distractions) and keep it honed in on what matters.

Problems focusing and paying attention tend to come with other problems too.

For instance, struggles with attention may have you wondering why you procrastinate. Or why you’re so disorganized, impulsive, or sensitive.

You may have a pattern of launching into “life transformation” projects with great enthusiasm, but soon run out of steam. Making you feel quite discouraged.

Now, our information-rich, device-driven society isn’t to blame. We didn’t overnight become zombies because we got smartphones.

It’s because as human beings we want to escape undesirable states, like being bored or irritable. And now, we have infinitely more ways to do that. Plus nobody’s teaching you the skills to do otherwise.

Unfortunately, distraction is not actually replenishing. It doesn’t actually decrease our cognitive stress.

For goals we want to accomplish, what we need is traction — choosing an activity, and then staying on track.

Mental and cognitive recovery thus involves building the skills of:

  • filtering and prioritizing; and
  • focused, deliberate attention.

A state of mind called ‘soft fascination’ may help restore our attention.

‘Soft fascination’ is when our attention is held by a less active or stimulating activity. Like reflection or introspection. It’s particularly powerful in natural environments. Such as when we’re gazing at a beautiful mountain vista, or watching a river run past.

This might not be at all surprising to you. People have always documented that time in nature seems almost magically replenishing.

Think about it, it’s how we all lived for millennia before the invention of agriculture. And well into the 20th century, when most people in the world lived in rural areas.

So I’d like you to consider exploring doing something in a natural environment. A local park or garden maybe?!

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.

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.

Sleep revenge!

You don’t need me to convince you of the benefits of sleep and I’m sure you’ve heard about them:

  • Boosting your immune system.
  • Help prevent weight gain.
  • Sleep can strengthen your heart.
  • Better sleep = better mood.
  • Sleeping can increase productivity.
  • Sleep can increase exercise performance.
  • Sleep improves memory.

But getting the hours of sleep required to see us recover and be at our best can be a challenge. This is because we have various demands that battle for our finite time attention and energy.


And it’s usually a case that choosing one of these commitments will see us miss out on another. And we humans don’t like thought of missing out, so we make decisions to avoid missing out.


For example did you know there is such a thing as revenge bedtime procrastination?! It is the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time.


When your high-stress job takes up the bulk of your day. Revenge bedtime procrastination is a way to find a few hours of entertainment. It’s very easily done. After all this time is where you have currently assigned time for yourself to wind down. Or it could be time with you spend with your other half.

Even though it results in insufficient sleep, staying up late to do what you want gives you a sense of control that you don’t feel you have during your work or family life. Even if the “revenge” is mostly on oneself.


Although revenge bedtime procrastination can be tempting. late nights followed by early mornings can directly lead to serious sleep deprivation.
Sleep procrastination can take different forms. One involves delaying the act of getting into bed (bedtime procrastination). Another is delaying the time of trying to fall asleep once in bed (while-in-bed procrastination). A person may engage in one or both forms of sleep procrastination, each of which can reduce nightly sleep.

Also with engaging in this bedtime procrastination and knowing/generally wanting to receive enough sleep, but failing to do so creates cognitive dissonance (mental conflict).


There is also the concept of searching for perfect sleep conditions that can cause sleep problems. Take for example if something doesn’t confirm with your idea of the perfect sleep environment. You could then lay there disgruntled and tell yourself.


I’m not going to get to sleep now without x’


This is where a night time routine can be helpful. A night-time routine can reduce the impulse to stay up later instead of going to bed.

  • Keeping a consistent bedtime (setting an alarm to start this night time routine) and wake-up time (sleep cycle app), including non-working days.
  • Avoiding alcohol or caffeine late in the afternoon or evening.
  • Stop the use of electronic devices for at least half-an-hour, and longer, before bed.
  • Developing a stable routine to use every night to prepare for bed.

Reading, showering/bathing, meditating, or stretching, can be part of your bedtime routine. Relaxation techniques may also decrease the stress that can drive revenge bedtime procrastination.


Also creating an inviting bedroom environment. One that is dark and quiet, has a comfortable mattress and bedding can also make going to sleep more appealing. And reduce the desire to sacrifice sleep for leisure activities.


Hope this helps.


p.s. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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.

Fear of failure

Have you ever avoided something because you are scared of failing?
Of course you have. This fear of failure is something we pick up in adolescence or adulthood. It protects our ego.


Think about it, what do we tell our kid’s when they come to us and tell us that something doesn’t work? We tell them to try again and when they come back and say it still doesn’t work. We say ‘try again’. Is that what we do as adults?? Nope! If we try again, we make sure nobody knows about it we don’t want anyone to know that we failed, right?


How long do you give your average baby to learn how to walk, before you shut them off and stop them from trying anymore? 🙂 They get up and keep failing until they walk! That is the magic formula. That is why you are able to walk. You persevered until! Thousands of attempts and thousands of ‘failures’ to see you walking. You tried until!


Unfortunately over time people are deterred from taking action and persevering because of fear. Fear of failure!

What I would suggest to you is that you change your perception around failure. To discipline your thinking in a new way, new thought process. What I mean is I want you to think that;


‘there are no failures, there are only results/outcomes!


Ask yourself do I always get my goal? But do you always get an outcome? Maybe not the one you intended, but it is a result. So the truth is you never fail you always succeed in producing a result, now it may not be the one you intended but that’s ok.You can make a subtle change and produce a new result.


People that succeed are the ones that do not believe in failure. There is no failure only outcomes/results. This guides them to continually take the action that eventually produces the kind of results that most people only hope to produce.


The thing is you probably don’t feel good about failing, but you feel good about learning. So the way you are going to succeed from this moment forward is you are going to realise that there are no failures. Because you learn from every experience. You succeed by learning from every human experience.


You will learn far more from these failures than you do successes. And as long as you learn from the experience then you can change your approach to produce the result that you want!


Now what I’m going to put to you is, how about you remove all the time spent trying and failing? How about you expedite the result with a proven method that will see you transform your body and mind. Improving your energy and productivity. A method that will see you looking good and feeling great!


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!

Emotional Eating

When I first started working with C, his relationship with food was poor to say the least it. When addressing his diet. He told me he kept a stash of chocolate bars in a box in the cupboard.


We established that after a stressful day at work he would find himself going to the box of chocolate. He wasn’t hungry he just recalled that he would be stressed when he would do this. And the chocolate made him feel better, temporarily. Like dragging on a cigarette or getting inebriated does. His chocolate box was a kind of a ‘break in case of emergency’ box.


He wasn’t aware he was doing this until I asked the questions. And unbeknown to him every time he did this he was forming a habit. Get stressed > eat food to feel better (momentarily) and repeat!


Unfortunately after doing so he would experience guilt from eating so much. The stress would be replaced by guilt from lack of self control and he felt gluttonous.
Now, multiply that habit by a few years and it was no wonder his health and fitness was deteriorating.

Plus the other things he was experiencing as a result. Especially at work and presenting. He hated it as he felt uncomfortable talking in front of his peers and work colleagues.


He told me of how he got someone else from his team to present the project he had managed. And as a result he felt someone else was taking the credit for his work.


But he felt trapped from low self-confidence and uncomfortableness when standing in front of people, worried about people looking at him.


This issue had developed over time from the result of his emotional eating.
Emotional eating is a very big problem in society. What makes it particularly dangerous is not only does it work, as an effective acute stress reliever. (Because when you eat fun food, your brain releases dopamine. A neurotransmitter associated with pleasure). But it’s not obvious, compared to other stress coping mechanisms like alcohol or smoking.


Because it’s food! And food is good, we need food. The problem is the reason behind eating. You’re not eating because you’re hungry but because you’re stressed.
So when he and I began working together on the The Limitless Lifestyle Blueprint.

The first step was to create awareness. Listening and identifying the issue and making him aware of what he was doing. A lightbulb moment for him as he realised that he had been using this stress coping mechanism for so long. And it was the cause of his poor state of health.

Then I put in place a plan of action to get him fit and healthy. First was addressing the stress issue. So I put in place tools to alleviate/omit the stressors that were causing the problem. Then we introduced coping mechanisms that would be beneficial to his health. Rather than detrimental.


With other small changes to his lifestyle. This change has permeated through his personal and professional life. He now enjoys presenting his projects thanks to his new confidence and energy.