Monday, 30 December 2013

Don't rely on willpower!

Now that the Christmas cake and Christmas pudding (albeit paleo) is finished I can let out a sigh of relief (at the same time as a notch in my belt!)  and get back to eating clean.

Hands up, who else is desperately eating all the leftover Christmas chocolate, cake and pudding because throwing it away just seems wrong?

It's a catch 22: you don't want all the Christmas cheese, pies and nibbles in the house because you will be tempted to eat it but it is in the house so you have to eat it to get it out of the house!

If you are not careful this will become a recurring theme during 2014.

Christmas throws into clear perspective how a lot of people eat all the time.  

If you have read my blog before, then you should be aware that I don't advocate any diets ever and that detoxes are pointless - we have livers that do the job very effectively for us, you know!  So how can you make a huge change to the way you live without dieting and detoxing after Christmas?

It is really very, very simple!

Stop buying crap!
Because if it isn't in the house, you can't eat it!

Don't pretend you're doing your kids a favour by still getting them crisps and chocolate and cakes and sweets because you aren't!  You are setting them up for a life of rewarding a normal day with junk food.  

You are your own enabler!  

Stop using your kids as an excuse to buy foods you know are terrible for you!  Why would you make an effort to eat clean but feed your kids that crap still?  They seriously are not going to die by avoiding chocolate, crisps, biscuits and sweets!  In fact, you will be aiding their concentration, levelling out their energy, hormone and mood levels and making sure their adult bodies are built on strong bones, teeth, neural pathways and healthy habits!

Why on earth wouldn't you do that?

Kids do actually like real food, given half a chance!

Look around you at the supermarket next time you are there.  Pretty much everyone over the age of 50 looks ill.  Overweight or underweight, tired, in pain, losing their hair, the list goes on.  These things genuinely can be avoided with a change in nutrition and exercise!  Why would you set yourself up for a life of pain and discomfort?  Why would you knowingly leave that legacy to your kids?

If it isn't in the house, you can't eat it!

Don't torture yourself.  You wouldn't expect a smoker to be able to give up smoking still with a packet of cigarettes and a lighter in his pocket.  You wouldn't expect a heroin addict to stay clean with junk and a spoon in her pocket.  

How on earth do you expect to eat clean with junk and a spoon in the cupboard?

If it isn't in the house, you can't eat it!

My husband actually had to leave his place of work before he was able to successfully give up smoking - all his coworkers were enabling him to continue smoking.  At his new job, he is a non smoker and everyone sees him as that so no one asks him to join them for a sneaky ciggie.

Giving up smoking is hard.  Giving up heroin or cocaine is hard but at least there is some stigma attached to these substances - there is no stigma attached to toast or crisps or chocolate or an evening glass of wine or two.

AA won't expect you to use willpower to give up an alcohol dependency - AA won't ask you to give up alcohol with a bottle of vodka sitting in the cupboard.  It won't ask you to go the the pub every evening and sit with a glass of water, it will tell you to avoid situations and even people you know are going to put you right back to square one!  

So why would you think willpower alone can cure you of a sugar, junk food and processed meal addiction?

The diet industry teaches you to rely on will power to succeed and that industry then relies on your guaranteed failure in order to return to them for more terrible advice.  I'm telling you to forget willpower - only a very few, very strong-willed self-harmy types have that sort of willpower - most of us need to cheat!

So go ahead and cheat - stop buying the foods you know you shouldn't be eating!  

It really is that simple.  And it works!

For those of you who are unsure what you shouldn't be eating, here is a non-exhaustive list for you:


  • sugar (check labels on even savoury foods for added sugar)

CUT or at least LIMIT

  • Flour (pastry, pasta, cakes, biscuits, pancakes, bread, pizza, crackers etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Processed foods (ham, sausages, ready meals, take-aways etc.)
  • Fizzy drinks (including diet varieties)
  • Low fat yoghurts

If you must replace sugar, replace it with honey.
Replace wheat products, those made with flour with oats or extra vegetables.
Replace alcohol and fizzy drinks with fruit teas or watered down fruit juice.
Replace low fat yoghurts with Greek yoghurts and honey or fruit.

If you must have chocolate, get dark chocolate and gradually get darker.

For some of you, this will be an enormous shift in your eating habits - but that's ok.  You have been brainwashed by food companies to think the stuff they are selling you, the stuff they are literally killing you with, that makes them huge amounts of money, is really food when there is actually very little nutritional content in there at all.

Sugar and processed foods are dramatically increasing your risk of diabetes.  They are dramatically increasing your risk of heart disease and atheroscelrosis.  They are dramatically increasing your risk of certain cancers.  A lack of exercise is increasing your chances of heart disease, atherosclerosis and osteoperosis.

Is this what you want for yourself, for your families, for your children?

Make the change now!  And if you need a helping hand, there is loads of advice on this blog - if you want more, I have tailored programs for nutrition and fitness to help you. 

Now ditch the diets and cut the crap for 2014!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Why you shouldn't set goals

New Year, New You Part I

New Year is on it's way and this is when we like to make resolutions and set goals, in fact, just before I sat down to write this, I had begun writing out my New Year Goal Setting Sheets for my clients.  But in thinking carefully about this blog post, I have totally changed my mind!

There will be no specific goal-setting this year.

Here's why:

If you set goals, the process of achieving these very specific and time referenced goals  (if you like SMART goal-setting) becomes purely about achieving the goal and not about the journey itself.  This makes the journey purely about the end-game rather than an enjoyable expedition in itself.  You lose focus on the present and end up living in the what ifs and whens rather than the here and now.

If you set goals and don't achieve them, it's demoralising. 

Failed goals lead to a cycle of making promises to yourself that you can't or don't achieve, followed by a period of self-loathing and disappointment before new, unrealistic goals are set and so on.

Achieving goals is no better than failing to achieve as this simply leads to a cycle of desperation to constantly achieve, a necessity to achieve, that leads to stress and anxiety to reach targets that are rarely genuinely enjoyed as the feeling when they are achieved is more often one of relief than joy.

Don't think: my life will be great when I am a size 10 or my life can begin when I have lost 2 stone or if I could only fit into those trousers I'd be happy.  Start thinking about how you want to feel right now.

How do you honestly want to live right now?

How do you honestly want to feel right now


Notice I didn't include happy in that list.  I don't believe in seeking happiness either.  Happiness is a transitory feeling that comes from experiencing the other things in the list above.  You can't just feel happy in a vacuum.  Happiness comes from feeling proud, feeling loved, feeling strong, feeling friendly, feeling helpful etc.

Happiness is part of the journey, not a destination.

And goals are a destination and they come to an end.  

Finding how you want to feel and how you want to live and living that from day to day is much more productive because it means every day is an acknowledgement of the pleasure of doing rather than aiming.

Finding the mental strength and determination to remain on the path, to continue the journey even when you have strayed from that path, is a pleasurable experience.  It brings happiness.  

Finding the joy in practising for the sake of practising, commitment to a life process with no final destination, allows you to stop and smell the flowers; it means you can genuinely enjoy the process of living the life you want to lead.

So rather than making a load of new year's resolutions this year and a set of goals you may or may not achieve, have a go at deciding what sort of person you want to be, decide on the sort of life you want to lead and find the happiness in living it!

New Year, New You Part II

So, how can you live the life you want to live, how can you be the person you want to be?

I don't think it is about setting anything in stone.  People change: what is vitally important to you when you are 5 just doesn't feature in your teens.  What's important to a twenty-something just isn't to a forty-something.  You are allowed to change your world view, your impression of someone, your desires, thoughts and ideals and you are allowed to change these whenever you like.  Forcing yourself continually along a path you hate is daft, no?

You need to have a look at your life every day.  If you hate everything about it, you must do something.  You must be proactive and make one change.  That one change will lead to more changes, guaranteed!

If you are a little dissatisfied with your life, the answer is the same.  Do something!

If you love your life, then you are probably already doing something on a regular basis.

This is a health and fitness blog so my advice is this: one of the the most effective changes you can make, with unbelievably far-reaching ripples that stretch further than you could possibly imagine, is to make a change to your health and fitness.

If you exercise regularly, you become fitter, you breathe more easily, you sleep better, you have more energy.  You have tangible things to feel proud of when you see changes in your strength and flexibility and balance and posture and yes, your waist!

If you eat healthily (I'm talking cutting processed foods and alcohol and foods high in salt and sugar) you will see amazing changes in your moods, your hormonal responses, your sleep and your energy levels and yes, your waist!

If you decide that these changes (and there are no negative results of these changes) are changes you would like to live with on a daily basis, then you make these a life change - not a short term goal-related 'diet' or 'detox' that people tamper with after Christmas.

You can do this yourself or you can ask for help.  I can offer you help in the form of nutrition counselling, personal training or FitClub.

I have FitClub members, who come to me once a week for an hour, who in 12 weeks went from not being able to do any press ups at all to being able to complete more than 10 decline pressups in a go. These clients of mine make an effort to come to FitClub even when time constraints and work commitments mean this is difficult.  This is because these clients are not goal orientated, they are life-inspired!  They are enjoying leading a fit and healthy life right now and they are don't want to give it up!

So make the best New Year's resolution you have ever made and promise to live the life you want to live and be the person you want to be!