Over the past couple of weeks I've been touring around doing some presentations and I've spent more time than usual in stations, airports, and some new places to eat and drink.
I've been shocked at what some people choose to eat, particularly for breakfast, when they're not at home.
It's important not to judge what people do based on seeing the choices they make for one meal but some of the selections really should be examined in relation to how you want the rest of the day to shape up.
Think about these breakfasts and how those who ate them might have felt an hour or two later.
Fried sausages on white bread
Fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, fried potatoes and fried bread
Egg & chips / fries
At the same venues there were choices that other people were making:
Grilled bacon sandwich
Poached eggs on toast
Who do you think had better energy for the rest of the day?
I'm not sure the first group would have had the same thing for breakfast had they been at home but this is a mistake that many people make. When they're out they chose things that seem like treats but just because you're not at home, the fact that you need good energy all day doesn't change.
So make the decision to start the day right wherever you are and you'll have great energy all day every day.
Having great arms is mainly a concern in the summer when everyone's wearing t-shirts and vests but my advice is don't wait for good weather to work on the guns. Get going now and then unveil the finished product as soon as Spring is here.
Here are 3 top tips to get big guns:
1. Mix up the order of exercises
Make sure you don't do the same workout on the guns repeatedly. Keep using different exercises in a different order to ensure you fully load the biceps in every workout. Target the biceps from as many different angles as possible.
Alternate compound exercises using lots of muscles with single muscle group exercises. For example, blast through a set of pull ups followed by a set of hammer curls. Then try a set of rows followed by preacher curls. For even faster results, vary the order in which you do your supersets. Sometimes your supersets should start with the compound exercise, other times try the single muscle exercise first and then the compound exercise.
Shake up your workout with different patterns of reps. Sometimes 3 sets of 10, sometimes 5 sets of 5. Drop sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 repetitions, or pyramid sets of 3, 6, 9, 12, 9, 6, 3 reps. Working to failure with every set will see your guns grow massively week by week.
The answer could be simple. It might be that you're just not moving enough.
From today onwards, aim to fit in 30 minute extra fast walking every day. This can be done as one session or in smaller bursts throughout the day. How will this help?
30 minutes fast walking a day will burn 200 calories
That's 1400 calories a week
6000 calories a month
73,000 calories a year
That could translate into almost 21 pounds of body fat burnt off during the year, just by walking for half an hour a day
Not to mention the 700+ miles you'll cover over the course of 12 months
And here's the added bonus. The more often you walk fast, the fitter you become. The fitter you get, the more calories you'll burn for the same amount of exercise. So you could burn many more pounds if you stick with a regular walking routine.
For more inspiration on this topic read Why Can't I Lose Weight? Part 1 and Part 2
When your mind is busy and you can't focus, stress can build and build and become dangerous for your health. Here's a simple technique to slow things down, prioritise what will reduce your stress and take immediate action to start feeling calmer and more in control.
1. Remove yourself from the environment where you are feeling stressed.
2. Write down everything that is causing you to feel stressed but only allow yourself a maximum of 5 minutes to do this.
3. Put the list of items stressing you in order of importance, starting with what you'd like to see fixed first.
4. Take a clean sheet of paper and write out 3 actions that will begin dealing with your top priority stress causer
5. Write down when you can take the first action. This should be within the next hour.
Return to what you were doing knowing that you are now in control of your life and everything in it rather than circumstances controlling you. Make sure you carry out your one hour action and continue to tackle what's stressing you from this point onwards. No more panic, no more procrastination.
Want to tone up fast? You probably think fast results aren't possible and that to get a sexy, toned body takes hours and hours of hard work. Well, think again. Here are 4 golden rules to toning up really fast.
1. Work out regularly.
Make sure you get active every other day and never go more than 3 days without a workout. Exercising regularly tells your body to get used to this level of activity and encourages efficient fat burning and muscle toning.
2. Work hard
Do not waste a second of your workout time by cruising on half power. If you run, run hard, if you're lifting weights, make sure that at the end of each set of 10, 12, or 15 reps, you really need a breather. If you could manage more reps it's time to increase the weight for some of your exercises.
3. Variety is the spice of life
Avoid sticking with any single programme for too long. Even if you're getting good results, chances are you could get even faster results by adding some new moves to your programme. Challenging your body in different ways throughout the week and the month will make you work harder.
4. Save rest time for later
Exercise time is precious so don't spend too much of it mooching around getting your breath back between exercises. Moving quickly from activity to activity will keep your heart rate up, boost the calorie burn of your workout and speed up your fitness and toning progress. Keep up the intensity when exercising and recover fully when your workout is over.
Follow these rules and you'll be amazed at how quick your toning results will be.
As it's Saturday I thought I'd suggest something simple and completely relaxing. This is a technique that will help you put all the stresses and strains of the week behind you and help you to clear your head and totally relax.
Practice this technique regularly and you can use it whenever you need it for a guaranteed mind and body recharge.
1. Lie face up with your arms out to the sides and palms turned upwards.
2. Take a deep breath in.
3. Breathe out slowly.
4. Breath in again, slower than before.
5. Breath out slowly.
6. Repeat the breathing pattern breathing in as slowly as you can, completely inflating your lungs and then breathing out slowly.
7. Each time you breathe out imagine your body becoming heavy, relaxed and sinking into the ground.
8. Continue for between 5 and 15 minutes.
9. Bring your awareness back to the moment, sit up before standing and return to your daily routine feeling calmer and sharper.
This is a question that I get asked all the time. I made some suggestions in the blog of the same name Why Can't I Lost Weight? but because it's such a key area of interest I wanted to revisit the topic and add some more suggestions. Here's the next installment.
Why can't I lose weight? Part 2 - Hidden sugars
The average American consumes 2-3 pounds of excess sugar PER WEEK.
We know there's sugar in sodas, sweets, chocolate and desserts but that's only part of the story. Where does the rest of it come from?
One source is low fat food. Shocking I know. Why is low fat food high in sugar? Mainly to give it more flavour.
Lets use yoghurts as an example. Most people like yoghurt and anyone who wants to stay healthy will opt for a low fat version. I took a closer look at some yoghurts today and found that one brand of natural, probiotic, 2% fat yoghurt had 3 teaspoons of sugar in it. Another brand of low fat fruit flavoured yoghurt had 6 teaspoons of sugar in it.
Yes, you read right, 6 teaspoons of sugar in a small 150g pot of yoghurt. One pot of this yoghurt a day would see you consume 35,050 calories a year which could leave you heaving around an extra 10 pounds of body fat if you're not careful.
If you want to check out how much sugar is in some of the food you eat, look at the label, find the sugar quantity in grams and multiply this by 4 to get the amount of sugar calories in the product. Then divide this by 16 to work out how many teaspoons of sugar are present. When you're shopping compare similar products and opt for the ones with the least sugar.
Witnessing people living a very different kind of life had got me thinking about those who make big changes, but what about the majority of people who are reasonably happy with most aspects of their life, but for some reason have lost their sparkle.
I seem to have come across a number of people in this situation in the last week and I think maybe it has a lot to do with the time of year. It's cold outside and days are short. It's near the end of the year and there's pressure to get everything done before the rest of 2009 disappears.
It seems as though many people are struggling to find the energy they need to get through each day and enjoy their lives. So I thought it would be worth a reminder of some previous blogs all geared towards helping you experience great energy throughout the day from start to finish.
1. Get some daylight, breathe some fresh air, get active and energise your body
Try some of these exercises / activities every day and aim to do them outside to make sure you benefit from natural light
One easy way to manage your stress levels every day is with the food and drink that you consume.
1. Make sure you eat
Sounds obvious but so many people are just too busy or they don't make food a priority. Then they suddenly realise that it's 6pm and they haven't had any food all day. If you don't fuel your body with food, you'll need regular bursts of adrenalin to keep going. Too much adrenalin in your system, for too long, with stress your system and raise your blood pressure.
A steady intake of food throughout the day means your body works with good energy rather than adrenalin and you keep your blood pressure steady.
2. Watch your caffeine intake
Drinking caffeine is like taking a quick hit of adrenalin into your system. Do this too often and your system becomes stressed trying to rebalance the amount of adrenalin in your bloodstream.
Too much caffeine can also impair your ability to focus and get things done which means physical stress can also become mental stress. Stick with a maximum of two cups of coffee or tea or two sodas a day.
3. Avoid processed foods and sugary snacks
Meals and snacks containing lots of sugar cause your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. If your blood sugar levels rise too high, too often, your system has to continually produce insulin to counteract this. Too much of this each day stresses your body.
Instead eat natural products, wholemeal carbohydrates and make sure you always have a bit of protein with every meal or snack. Eating this way releases energy into the system slowly and helps maintain a stable environment.
So how does this make up the best weight loss diet?
Simple. A body under stress will not use food effectively or burn calories efficiently. This will lead to weight gain or difficulty in losing unwanted pounds.
No stress / Best weight loss diet tips:
1. Eating regularly means you won't suffer from a slow metabolism or hang on to unnecessary body fat.
2. Minimising caffeine creates stable fat burning conditions in your body.
3. Avoiding too much sugar means you won't consume too many calories each day.
Most people appreciate that living with stress can take years off your life but what's really frightening is that so many people don't know they're living with unsafe stress levels every single day.
I recently conducted a survey of over 300 people and found that more than 75% of them had high blood pressure, a real danger sign for the state of their physical health.
I was shocked.
Here's what I told them, and what I'd tell anyone who regularly encounters stressful situations and who could be risking high blood pressure or even more serious consequences to their health.
1. Get tested.
Even if you don't feel particularly stressed, our bodies are quite often under stress when we're busy with many things at once, rushing around and eating on the go. The only way you'll know if your lifestyle is taking a toll on your long-term health is to get your blood pressure checked.
2. Get tested regularly.
Some stress, at some times can be a good thing. It can bring out the best in us. However, too much stress for too long can cause health issues. You must monitor what's going on with your body at regular intervals and never let abnormal readings persist for too long.
3. Get some perspective.
High blood pressure is an early warning for possible major health implications. It may feel good to live on stress and nervous energy for now, but it won't help you in the long run. And who says living this way is actually getting the best out of you anyway? How do you know you won't be more effective if you manage your stress better on a day-to-day basis?
Could you be doing things differently, living happier and feeling better every day?
When was the last time you went on a diet in November?
There's something about this time of year that makes us want to hibernate, slow the pace down and put off all good intentions to the New Year.
But why put so much pressure on January when you've got 40 glorious days left to change the way you look and feel for the Christmas Holidays. It's time to ditch those resolutions and see this year out with a bang. Want to know how to drop a dress size or trouser size before this year is out? Here's how.This year, take this new approach. Rather than biding your time until the end of the year, get ahead of the game and decide now to see how much of a difference you can make to your fitness and your body shape by the time you get to Christmas.
Here's how you'll do it.
Break your 40 days into blocks of 4 days.
For each 4 days, plan three days of focused healthy food, drink, activity and lifestyle that you know will ensure you reach your target
Plan 1 'free' day of eating and drinking what you want and, if you like, taking the option to not exercise without guilt.
Use each 'free' day to assess your approach for the other three days, make sure you are definitely on track for the right result and plan any adjustments to your routine for the following 3 days.
There may be some challenges along the way - many of you will have thanksgiving to contend with for example - but say focused on your target every day, follow the cycle of doing what works, reviewing your progress and updating where necessary, and you'll be amazed at what you're capable of achieving.
If you do have to get through Thanksgiving along the way, here's some handy advice:
Sounds fantastic doesn't it? If only we could all feel great every day. Surely it's possible isn't it?
Something I notice as I speak to people about health, fitness and feeling great, is just how many people don't seem to think that it is possible. They seem all too happy to limit their potential feel good factor by making excuses as to why it can't happen. They say things like, 'I'd love to feel great every day but I just don't have the time', 'I'm too tired' or 'I'm too busy'.
Too busy to feel great?!
So what happens is they end up adopting survival mode, doing what they can to get through each day just hoping and praying that tomorrow will be better.
Well here's a thought. What if you can guarantee that tomorrow would be better than today? And that every day after that you would feel great. Well here's how you can achieve this.
The way you will feel tomorrow will be largely dictated by what you do today so don't just aim to survive today and make tomorrow better. Think about what you can do today that will guarantee tomorrow is better. Begin with these 3 steps:
1) Get active. Even if you don't feel like it, squeeze in a workout today. It will energise you right now and you'll wake up feeling glad you did it.
2) Eat regularly. If your blood sugar levels are low all day today, you'll wake up feeling sluggish. Make sure you eat every 3-4 hours today and you'll wake up feeling sharp tomorrow.
3) Get to bed. There is a temptation to stay up late and enjoy a bit of time to yourself in the evening but the cost is you feel tired and sluggish tomorrow. Decide early in the day what time you need to be in bed for a great night's sleep and then plan your evening around sticking to this bed time.
Don't hope for a better day tomorrow, act today to make sure it happens
At the beginning of the month I ran a half marathon. Not much to note there - I've run the same race for the last few years, but this time is the first time as a new Dad. I knew with the recent weeks of missing sleep and squeezing in quick training sessions where possible it was going to be more difficult than usual to stay motivated and probably very easy to say I'm not up to my usual fitness so I'll just give it a miss this year.
But in 2000 I vowed I would complete the run every year so I decided this year I needed some extra motivation. I recruited a couple of friends to come along with me and I've got to say it made all the difference. Knowing that we had entered together together and that if I didn't make the start line I'd be letting them down after getting them involved kept my mind focused and ensured that I managed to do at least a bit of training, even when I didn't feel like it.
The day of the race was horrific weather and had we not all been travelling to the start line together, staying in bed looked like a much better option. But we got there and we got round in spite of heavy rain and gusty winds. And it was all worth the effort.
So my tip for today is, if you've set yourself a fitness goal or challenge and you're worried that you might not make it happen, get some friends involved and you'll be sure to stay on track. Share the responsibility to make the challenge happen and you can share the sense of achievement when you've done it.
I've come out of town for a few days to get a break from the hustle and bustle of London and down here by the ocean things look very different.
Today I saw surfers out before breakfast, at lunchtime and then through the afternoon until it got dark. I suspected that many of them might be 'new locals' who relocated here from cities around the UK to benefit from a different routine so I checked with a few of them as they came out of the water. Sure enough there was a graphic designer, a financial adviser and a journalist who had all quit the rat race and set themselves up with a schedule where they work around the tides and no longer feel the stresses and strains of city life.
It got me thinking. It may not be practical for you to completely move your life to a new location, but what can you do today, tomorrow and for the rest of this week and this month that will help you feel that things are a bit more balanced? The people I saw today, all work hard, but balance this hard work with surfing, cycling, walking, running, swimming or just looking at the sea when the mood takes them. They wake up knowing they changed their life for the better.
So what's your equivalent of hitting the surf? And when can you do it next?
Last week I came across 3 people who all claimed they suffer from panic attacks. The episodes they described, while cause for concern for each of the individuals, didn't actually sound like full on panic attacks and it got me thinking that everyone needs to be quite careful about how they label some of the things that happen to them each day.
If you begin to think of any slight feelings of anxiety as panic attacks, there's a danger that you won't be able to keep daily challenges that we all face in perspective. So what are panic attacks?
Panic attacks are an extreme version of the natural physiological response - the stress response or 'fight or flight' response. This response is designed to protect us. In times of danger our bodies immediately equip us to either run from a situation or fight our way out of it. The response is sudden and you'll know it's happening if you feel a bit sick, your heart starts to beat faster and you feel a bit sweaty or clammy.
This is normal and a certain level of stress does not do us harm, in fact it helps us to stretch ourselves, challenge ourselves and grow. The response only becomes a problem if the symptoms persist for too long or occur too frequently. If this happens then you may be unable to calm down as each stressful situation aggravates your body and your mind.
At this point it's time to read the blog entry on reducing stress levels
Even at this point though you may not be experiencing panic attacks. A full panic attack is more serious and could make you feel as though you're having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown so be wary of mistaking stressful situations for panic attacks.
If you're concerned that you are in danger of experiencing panic attacks, here's what to do.
Keep a pen and paper with you at all times and note down situations that make you anxious. This includes thoughts of forthcoming situations that make you feel edgy, and a review of anything that happened today or this week that made you feel panicked. Build up a picture of how you respond to stress. Do you see stressful situations as a challenge or as something to run away from? Isolate the triggers that cause you to feel stressed or panic. Write down how you cope with these.
Analyse how you currently manage stressful situations. Do you resort to caffeine or comfort food? Do you find a quiet place to work through things in your head? Do you use exercise or activity to dissipate feelings of anxiety? Can you think of other ways to deal with stressful situations?
Reframe how you think about stress. Stress appears to have become the bad guy but in the right proportions and managed correctly it can help you grow and develop. Work out what level of stress is right in your life and begin to embrace this as a friend. Tell yourself, 'This situation could be called stressful but I chose this path and these feelings are part of my progress through life'. This will help you to recognise more clearly when you are experiencing an unacceptable level of stress and you can then take the appropriate action to reclaim balance.
As you come to understand your personality and how you deal with events that stretch you, you'll be able to create strategies for coping with stress at the right level for you. If you're concerned that your pattern of stress and anxiety is beyond what you are able to cope with, this is the time to seek advice from a medical expert.