The Gentleman’s Blog

Health and wellbeing talk


Through the sea of raised hands, I could see the food. 

It looked amazing, pigs in blankets, goujons, samosas. All beautifully presented by the waiting staff on silver platters.


I was salivating and I could hear my stomach grumbling. I kept having to swallow before answering a question. And make sure the mic wasn’t picking up my grumbling tummy.


The food had been sat there for some time, it felt like hours. It had to be cold. But that wasn’t going to stop me. As soon as the Q& A session was over I had visions of swan diving into the middle of the banquet.


I couldn’t be the only one who was ready to eat and yet still the questions kept coming;


‘You know the slide where you had the person’s metabolic rate…’


‘What is the most effective way I could calculate…’


‘Which means of tracking do you use…’


‘You know the machines in Boots the pharmacy…’


‘My Fitbit says that I…’


And then it was over. The last question was answered. Yes, food time.


But I had celebrated early I could see a queue forming. People who wanted to ask me a question that they didn’t feel comfortable asking in front of the group.


I get it, they might feel that they are asking a silly question. And don’t want to look silly in from of their work colleagues.


Or it was something personal that they didn’t want to share with the rest of the company.


All manner of weird and wonderful questions I fielded. The hunger sensation was suppressed. I was full of the feeling of satisfaction you get when you help someone to understand something.


The last person in the queue was the company director. “Andrew that was fantastic.” He said with a big smile.


“You kept 50 hungry people so engaged that they didn’t even notice the food come out”.


“You must be hungry yourself, go and grab yourself some food and meet me at the bar”


‘Finally, some food’, said the voice in my head in a Gordon Ramsey accent.


Or so I thought. I stood there overlooking the spread in disbelief. The staff members had ripped through the buffet like locus through a crop field. 


Good job the hunger (Ghrelin wave) had passed. So I headed over to the bar to meet up with the Company Director. 


“Andrew” The Director greeted me. “Let me introduce you to Phil. Phil runs a finance company”.


“That was great, how do I get you to come and deliver that seminar to my staff they would love that”. Phil said.


And that is how it started! That is how I ended up on the circuit (so to speak). A favour for a friend that turned into an opportunity to talk to businesses all over.


And Jesus have I missed it. Webinars have been nice and all but it’s not the same as going into offices and meeting people. Having that connection in a live face-to-face setting.


And I’m excited about this semblance of normality returning. Now that people are going back to the workplace.


Email me for more info on a Health and Well-being talks from yours truly
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Devotional practices

Sunday night rolls around and a cold bead of sweat travels down the forehead of the poor WW member. Uneasy about the prospect of tomorrow’s weigh-in.

So they formulate a plan; consume only dust and dehydrate themselves to prep for the evening meeting.

Flustered and late they arrive at the community centre. As soon as they enter they are summoned by the leader. As they walk up to the stage they feel the eyeballs of the crowd on them.

Anxiety takes hold as they recall the M&M they found in their pocket and devoured at lunchtime. It was the only morsel that has passed their lips but that blue button-shaped chocolate could make all the difference.

As they step on the scale, complete with grimace on face they look down to see the numbers. The ones that will reveal their mass in relation to the earth. The scales move back and forth the needle jumping from oz to oz.

Silence falls as the leader checks the scales and consults their clipboard.  The whole event is similar in hype to pugilists weighing in for a Vegas box office event.

A hush falls over the crowd as the Leader speaks. ‘Well, David that’s the same weight as last week.’

‘Well, s**t. The whole week was mathematically pointless’ David thinks to himself.

If David had an understanding of how his weight can fluctuate from day to day. He would know that one weigh-in per week is a risky game.

If he were to weigh in daily he would ensure that he doesn’t miss the new lows he had been working on. And doing so first thing in the morning after visiting the ablutions would aid consistency.

He would also be content knowing that he only needs to see a new low each week. Not each day! This would show a trend and prove what he is doing is working.

Dishing the dirt on eating clean

The greatest trick that clean eating ever pulled was to convince the world it existed!

I continue to scour the health and fitness horizon for the meaning behind this paradox.

The diet fad that ripped through the industry was like a hurricane across the southeast of England, certainly left its mark. Confused dieters are synonymous with felled trees in its aftermath.

I continue enquiring to see if anyone can shed some light on it or what the parameters were behind the concept. Yet nobody can clarify.

‘Did you have to wash all the food with fairy liquid before consumption?’

‘Are there foods that identified with clean, dirty, or unsoiled?’

Still no answers!

My limited findings to date are that there seems to be a hint of assigning morality. Some omittance of ingredients. And a proclivity towards erroneous labeling like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’.

It’s tough to get answers because people’s retorts are always the same.

‘What is it?’ I ask.

‘You know, eating clean’. They reply.

‘Yes, but what does that mean?’

Then silence, a shrug, or an uttering about not eating crap.

Anyway, I’ll keep my ear to the ground. When I get some specificity over one of the biggest hoaxes to riddle the fitness world I’ll get back to you.

If you do know anything that would allude to an explanation please reply.

Speak soon

Andrew

100kg done!

Well, that’s it. 100 kg done!

‘What are you talking about Andrew?’ You ask.

Over the last 7 years, I have been carrying out some due diligence. Self-experimentation in the form of weight loss and weight gain. Evidence-based practices that I have refined over the years. And this weekend saw me hit 100kg weight loss total.

To give you some specificity, I’ve lost between 10kg and 22kg each year for the last 7. Which has reached a combined total of 100kg.

Why?

Well, I do it to show people how to transform their bodies sensibly. How to lose fat properly. How to actually gain muscle.

Because as you know it’s a minefield out there. A minefield filled with charlatans and zealots preaching their diet and exercise religions.

‘Thou shall not eat carbs’

‘I command you to do fasted cardio’

‘Burn in hell for all eternity when you eat meat’

Diatribe. These people love to create some sensationalism, a new fad to hoodwink people.

I would rather show people and prove that there is a sensible way of going about it. Demonstrating what I do with my diet to lose fat and what exercise I do to gain muscle to be fitter.

I suppose I wanted to back up what I was preaching. Which I don’t see anyone else doing. I see many people talk a great game but no action. They’ll get on their soapbox, but they new back it up with any action. Probably because they know what they are pushing is ridiculous and they would last 5 mins.

I wanted to prove what I was preaching works. And that my blueprint will work for anyone. So here’s a brief synopsis of what I did during my weight loss phases.

Diet
A moderate energy deficit. Going too aggressive in the first years left me very hungry and prone to muscle loss which is bad. So for the last years, I aimed for a 15% deficit.

A weekly target for my calories. This was far more flexible than a daily target. It meant that I could bank some calories for the weekend when my intake would be higher.

I assigned a certain amount of my calorie budget to protein. And kept my daily protein intake high. Most of my meals were focused on protein. This did wonder for my hunger (protein reduces your ghrelin/hunger hormone). And helped with preserving muscle mass.

Exercise
The only cardio I did was walking. This mitigated high hunger periods (common post cardio training).

I found a frequency of workout sessions that worked for me (5). And the focus of those sessions remained the same during weight loss and weight gain periods. Do a little more each week. (This was easier during weight gain phases)

Sleep
This was a tough one because toddlers don’t care about your sleep regime. Yet I would always set myself up for 7 hours of sleep (actual sleep not being in bed). On the days where sleep was poor, hunger was elevated. Food reward heightened and satiety lowered. So I was always aiming for those 7 hours and riding out the storm on days where I didn’t get it.

Tracking
I tracked my energy intake during all 7 years of experimentation/weight change. This was a means to an end. When at a point where I want to maintain my weight. I would track my intake for a week or so then put down the tracker. But during times of change, I had to track. Even as an experienced dieter I would be way out without tracking. And the thought of calculating and storing up a running total every day. Seems exhausting and very inaccurate.

And there you have it. My best tips for dieting. By implementing those things you’ll look and feel better at the end of it.

If you want my blueprint which shows you the specifics you can grab a copy here

The sunk cost fallacy

It was only a few sips into my drink before he came out with the bombshell that things haven’t been good at home.

I was flabbergasted, from the outside, his relationship portrayed your ideal couple. Photos of them on exotic holidays. at events, going out for walks with the dog would litter my Facebook homepage.


This was the real reason that he had asked if I wanted to go for a drink. It wasn’t to watch the football. He needed an ear to bend.


He told me the ins and outs of the past few months. Who had done what to whom. The arguments, the infidelity, it was Pandora’s box in relationship form.

On coming to the end of his rant I asked him the most pertinent question ‘do you still love her?’ His response was ‘well, yeah.’


I asked him ‘Do you still want to be with her’. His response, ‘well, we’ve been together for so long and we’ve got the house and the mortgage and everything.’


His whole standpoint for staying with her was that it was convenient. And he’d already invested so much time. And was willing to offset his future happiness on the basis that he had invested that time, energy and money.


He had fallen foul of the spent cost fallacy!


Which is where time money and energy you’ve already invested that cannot be recovered.


An example of this would be if you went to the cinema. Paid your money and halfway into the movie you decide it is awful. Rather than getting up and leaving or you think to yourself well I’ve paid the money I’m going to see this through. And then proceed to suffer through the rest of the movie. Knowing full well that another hour of your life will be wasted!


The thing to consider in this example is that you have already spent the money on the cinema ticket. That money is not coming back. and it should not affect your decision to walk out.


It’s like finishing a meal in a restaurant that’s terrible. A glass of red from the bar that is disgusting, a meal replacement shake that tastes like feet. A diet and exercise plan that isn’t working. More sunk cost fallacy at work!


The time, energy, effort and money is already spent! Try not to let it cloud your decision on future enjoyment. Don’t put yourself through, pain, ineffective fitness plans and poor wine in the future!


The sum paid in the past that is no longer relevant to decisions about the future.

It’s just data!

After delivering my last health and wellbeing seminar for a company I received a question from one of their members of staff.

Actually, it was more of a concern about the concept of tracking calories (something I touched on in the seminar).

First of all the reason, I advocate that you track calories is to educate yourself.

The person who was concerned said that counting calories can cause eating disorders, create bad habits and be bad for mental health.

People that state this are counting calories for the wrong reasons. You should count calories to educate yourself on what you are eating and how much you are eating.

It is not a permanent thing rather a means to an end.

It is even more important that you track your calories when you start your health and fitness journey. Because a lot of people don’t actually realize how much and what they eat.

How are you supposed to realize where you are going wrong if you don’t collect data?

We collect data to improve, learn, understand and execute a plan of action.

This is why you count calories!

After a period of time, you’ll have an awareness of calories. And you’ll be able to eyeball a meal and know how many calories are in it. You’ll be able to pick up a snack and know how many grams of protein are in it.

And that’s why you count calories.

Counting calories doesn’t create an eating disorder, rather it reveals the disorder.

It’s just data, don’t allow feelings to distract you from what you can achieve.

Make it mean something!

I find myself at the tail end of this year’s weight loss challenge. And within touching distance of a milestone. That being 100kg lost in total over several years of self-experimentation.

Now I can say with hand on heart this year has been the hardest. Even harder than the first year (7 years ago) where I hadn’t dieted before. And I know the reason why. 

It’s because my goal this year was weight loss. The goal, although a milestone, is a weight loss one. Which has rendered it pretty meaningless. This cements my standpoint that a weight loss goal is redundant.


This year I have persevered through gritted teeth. And the method I use (the reveal a body blueprint) has made it as simple as possible.


But it pales in comparison to using the method plus an emotive goal, like in previous years. I’d never struggled then because they have been motivated by the carrot dangling at the end. 

Carrots like feeling confident on stage, in front of hundreds of people for a bodybuilding competition. Feeling great stood next to my wife for our wedding pictures. Or feeling confident in my swim shorts in the pool with my kids on holiday.

These feeling-based, emotive goals have made the process far easier. Attaching the outcome to a feeling rather than a meaningless number.


So if you are looking to transform your body focus on the reason behind the transformation. Find that emotive reason that has given you a reason to want to change your physique. Have a carrot that means something to you and attach the outcome to that.

Social proofing

Often, I’m tagged in posts by people asking to disprove a fad diet that appears on the internet. One of the tags that caught my attention was from a school friend.


He had tagged me in the post where an influencer chap with a huge following was selling a method for weight loss. Called the 2mealday. The diet approach stated that for weight loss you should only eat two meals a day!


My friend had challenged this hogwash. Stating that the trainer’s method was omitting a meal to create a calorie deficit. The trainer, in his rebuttal, said that this was not the case! He responded by saying ‘If you were on a calorie restriction diet your body would change the way that your metabolism worked!’. He went on to say ‘if you are drip-feeding your body you won’t be able to lose fat’. It was at this point I intervened!


I asked the trainer what was the study/evidence he had developed this premise on. I also asked him about the comments he had made to my friend. Funny enough he didn’t want to discuss the issue on his social media page and asked me to message him.


I acquiesced to his request and we had a conversation. Which started off with him telling me that there was a study on his website to back up what he was saying. Now, this study I had not seen on any of the scientific literature sites. Which are subject to stringent reviews, peer reviews, and then they’re published on these sites. They are the most credible sources available!


He told me that the study was proof because it was an article published on the internet. He might as well have pulled the article from the Sun newspaper. There was no scientific backing to the article and it wasn’t featured on credible sites.


After some discussion, he admitted that a calorie restriction would reduce fat loss over time. But still claimed his method was superior. My hang-up with this there was no evidence to support his claim. Yet, he was resolute with his standpoint that it had to be two meals a day.


Then I asked him “do you have any qualifications in nutrition“ his response ‘none’. He said he was a coach with a ‘special interest in fasting’. And he had the backing of a qualified person who was part of his business.


He couldn’t see the obvious he was wholly consumed by his belief. That two meals a day is the best way. Despite the empirical evidence that shows that meal frequency is irrelevant.


It was evident that a lot of people had bought into his method due to his large following. This is something called social proofing. People trust or believe them because it is best to go along with the crowd. Rather than question the fact that the person with this following could be an idiot.


But the most important thing to take from this is that meal frequency and timing have no bearing on weight loss. As I tried to get through to the trainer, let’s call him Max.


The most important thing is adherence, sticking to your calorie target daily/weekly! It has to work for you, your diet is very personal, you have cultivated it over years. You like the foods you eat and you have them at the times that are convenient for you, it doesn’t have to be rigid for it to work! In fact, flexibility has been shown to increase adherence.

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Keep the momentum going!

The most common questions I get asked are; ‘How do you keep it going’, ‘how do you stay motivated?’, ‘how do you get to the gym X amount of times a week?’ and ‘how do you stick to your diet?’

When people lack motivation I usually find it’s because what they’re doing on their quest for health and fitness is not enjoyable!

If your exercise plan or diet isn’t right for you then you’re going to hate it, of course, you’re going to struggle to stick to it. If I was doing some awful prescribed method that I wasn’t enjoying because I didn’t know any better, I’d last not very long before I’d quit.

One of the most important questions I ask my clients is ‘how often can you exercise?’ and ‘what do you like doing?’ I know that this is hugely important because if they like it, they will stick to it. Swimming, CrossFit, resistance training, yoga even power walking; these are all options people enjoy and if it gets them moving then great.

And a frequency they can realistically keep to removes the overreaching problem where you can’t realistically keep up with a cookie-cutter exercise routine.

Yes, there are exercises that I am going to recommend that they should factor in that are going to be optimal for improving body composition. These can be a small part of someone’s exercise regime, but you have got to enjoy it overall. Which means you will keep it going.

And there 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 ‘Andy it is time for you to piss off!’ This is why food plans are futile. You’ve cultivated your diet over years, and you eat at the times convenient to you. To completely overhaul your diet is ludicrous! You won’t last very long before you are back eating your normal diet.

I have had clients tell me that they had done a certain personal trainer’s (let’s call him Joe) diet plan and they lasted just a couple of weeks. Because ‘prepping like a boss’ and ‘eating clean’ is a complete overhaul and miles away from their normal diet. And irrelevant for when it comes to getting in shape. No wonder only 10% of the people that purchase his plan complete it!

So when you’re thinking about exercise and diet think about the stuff that you enjoy and you won’t need motivation, you’ll be happy to do it!

Feedback not failure

I could make out the police insignia through the window on one of the envelopes I picked up from the hallway floor. I had an idea what this this was going to be.

My suspicions were confirmed on opening said letter. A speeding offense.

I have the choice of 3 points on my license or speed awareness course. It’s like asking would you rather be shot or stabbed!?


As with everything the way I frame this is, as feedback, not failure, which is important. I haven’t failed at driving, I’ve received some feedback that I need to be more aware of variable speed limits.


I’ll call it exuberance, maybe I got a little over excited. This is what happens when you borrow a 6 litre Continental with circa 550 ponies under the hood.


Going forward I’m not going to make the same mistake again. This is feedback, not failure. And it is an important mindset.


Let’s take eating out. This is a scenario when people feel guilty about the food choices they make. You may eat things that you don’t usually eat or may eat more than is comfortable.


You may be thinking ‘I need more self control’. But do we have to sacrifice the foods that we enjoy? To claim that we have self-control?

No!

Self-control failure comes from believing that there are consequences to our actions. Even if it is something minor. Let’s go with choosing chocolate instead of celery sticks.

If we eat one meal or several meals over the course of the day where you feel uncomfortable. If you believe you have broken some food rules. Or there are going to be serious consequences to your actions. Those can be perceived as a self-control failure.

If we don’t have those food rules and we give ourselves permission, you don’t break any rules. So you don’t have to deal with the guilt shame, frustration and anxiety. That come with breaking those self-imposed food rules.


You simply enjoy that food or meal and move on. Or if we don’t we use it as a learning opportunity and move on. Learning not failure! We don’t repeat those habits over and over again!

And if you do find yourself in that cycle of repeating those habits that are not in line with your goals. You can reach out to to a professional and find out why you might be doing that.