The real reasons I gained weight and the real solution to it.

The real reason I’ve struggled with weight gain

For the last year since my daughter was born, I’ve watched my weight steadily increase. I’ve been disappointed about this and annoyed, but in the cold light of day I cannot be surprised. People often come up with lots of weird and wonderful reasons why their weight has increased and how puzzling it is to them since they hardly eat anything.

I for one am not that naïve. I know exactly why my weight has been creeping up and up. There are two main reasons.

  1. I used to rely on exercise to help keep my weight down and I don’t have the time to exercise for as long anymore.
  2. My diet has been inconsistent.

It really is as simple as that. I have been blissfully unaware of how poor my eating habits had gotten, thinking to myself in a state of grand delusion, that I could just stop and start dropping weight whenever I wanted.  The only problem with this thinking was that it was not true. I was eating so much that I was craving the feeling of being really full. Every time you go for that you have to eat that little bit more.  A twelve inch pizza becomes a 14 inch next time. A 50 gram bag of crisps becomes 100gr and so on.

I was completely in denial as well. I had deliberately not weighed myself thinking that would make things easier to cope with, but the body never lies. I could feel that I was heavier, and my clothes all of a sudden felt like they had been shrunk.

I could have gone blissfully unaware but eventually, I had to face reality. I braced myself and faced the music. The results were not pretty and I underestimated my weight by a few pounds as well, but it was the reality. I felt better knowing exactly where I stood and what would be needed to make improvements to my weight.

One thing I have learnt to do during this time is accept myself for the person that I am. My thinking has shifted from you will be happier when you are a particular weight to be the best you can be on this day at this size. I’ve realised that I will only get to live this day once, so I want to make the best use of it that I can. Stressing over what has been or what may be is a waste of energy that could be put to better use.

Focussing on being the best I can be for that day makes sticking to healthy habits easier. I have found that setting large goals in the past has been difficult because I get daunted by the journey and worry that I might not be able to make it. Instead of that, focussing on the present moment and the day breaks the goal down into small manageable chunks. Setting the goal and working towards it daily feels like a good approach. You need the long term vision to see the overall direction, but then need to become adept at winning each day as it comes.

So what tactics am I going to use in order to get my health back on track?

  1. Consistent diet.
  2. Regular strength training.
  3. Daily movement and general physical activity.
  4. Lots of water
  5. A good dose of micronutrients daily (vitamins and minerals)
  6. When possible, get earlier nights for better sleep and reduction in stress.

I’m sure it will work if I remember to focus on each day as it comes and win enough little victories to create consistent healthy habits that last years.

I wish you the best.

I come first!

This will be a short post that addresses one of the main challenges that I have been working with since the birth of my second child.
When Ava was born, I naively thought that I could keep all my routines the same and still have the same amount of free time. I have learned that we can all have our own time if we want it, but you will have to make adjustments down to your unique life situation.
I remember reading an interview with actor Mark Wahlberg years ago when he talked about how he would hit the gym at four A.M before the rest of his family was awake. When I read that it seemed a little bit over the top. Now that I have children, my paradigm has changed and it makes perfect sense.
When I start my day by looking after myself, I feel better equipped to take care of all the other responsibilities I have in my life.
I like to have between 30 minutes and an hour in the morning before anyone is awake to do the following things.
Exercise
Read
Visualisation exercises
Meditation
I start my day in a much better state when I manage to do some or all of these things. Now sometimes, this time does get interrupted. Usually by my younger daughter who is only ten months old. Because I accept this and am prepared for it, it doesn’t upset me. Life cannot be so predictable and rigid and so neither can I. Trying to not see things in absolutes is one of the mental challenges I am working on in order to control my state of mind and level of happiness.
This sense of control then stays with me throughout the day, making me a more effective employee, family man and husband. I am also kinder to myself and catch myself when I fall into the trap of negative self- talk. I don’t let the misery man of the mind get his own way. I challenge him and tell him to shut up when I can feel him taking over and starting to make me worry and stress about the unimportant.
There is real value in looking treating yourself well and taking care of the things that will enhance you.
What habits do you find are your most valuable and cherished?
Are there any habits you would like to develop so that your life is better?
I wish you the best
Shaun

It’s your time!

I heard an inspirational song this weekend when I was cooking dinner for my family. It’s catchy and the lyrics are motivating. The premise of the song is to really go for what you want. It makes references to God being behind you and on your side. Now whether you believe in God or not, there is something to be said about belief and faith to power you forward. Whenever I have achieved notable things in my life, I’ve had to struggle and fight with fear and laziness, and kick them in the ass. Faith is the way to do it.
Faith is what pushes you forward when there is no evidence around you that things will work out. When watching high level performers, the unifying factor they all have is belief in their abilities.
Do you have faith that you are going to achieve the goals you have set for yourself?
Belief might be the most important factor.
Before I signed up for total warrior this summer, I was undecided about whether I was going to take part. As soon as I made the commitment and signed up, my actions became easier. I trained consistently, got into good aerobic shape and performed really well on the day.
I had faith in my ability to succeed and did not entertain the thought of not competing and giving it my all. Here are my top tips for keeping and strengthening the faith.

Unleash the beast!

Unleash the beast!

1. Take action!!!!!!!!!!! Activate your beast mode.

Before Total warrior, my fitness was not up to par, so I set myself a challenge. Every Monday, I would set myself the challenge of running to the bottom of West Vale, and then turning back and running back uphill all the way to the peak. To put this in context, This hill is constantly uphill for about forty five minutes. At points it’s so steep that I never imagined that I could get to the top. Every Monday I would lace up my trainers and go for it again with the simple mantra of one more step than last week. After two months, I conquered the hill. Not only that, but I started to thrive on the hills and enjoy the feeling of dominating what I once thought was impossible.
I have never felt so powerful from running and this pumped so much belief and faith into me that I couldn’t wait to get to the race day and push myself. Beast mode is a state of feeling but you can’t just tap into it straight away. You have to develop it through persistent consistent effort no matter what the memes say.
2. Have a partner in crime.
Having someone training with you or helping you develop a skill or capacity is extremely powerful. You have that person then who knows what you are going through and can encourage you, as well as keep you accountable to what you agreed to.

3. Visualise yourself succeeding.
I had never really practiced visualisation before until I came across the practice in Tom Venuto’s book ‘Burn the fat feed the muscle.’ It then seemed like every book I read on personal development and health talked about it’s power. I have not yet made this a consistent practice yet and it is something I am incorporating far more these days. However the early benefits warrant the reviews. It gives me clarity and purpose and is a daily reminder of what I want to achieve with my life.

4. Study those who have done what you want to do and learn from them (mentorship)
Nothing is more powerful than a role model. They give you the faith that what you want to achieve is possible because they have done it themselves. If you can speak with some of these people, then you are on the fast track to success because they can share their strategies and ideas with you that might make the difference between struggling alone and really blossoming into your true potential. My mentor has really helped to develop my mind-set and as I grow and develop, I will look to other mentors to learn even more from.

There are four strategies that would go a long way to helping you develop your belief and faith in yourself and the things you want to make happen. Now go get it!
Are there any other strategies that you would include in this list? Do you already use any of these techniques successfully. If so it would be great to hear from you.
I wish you the best
Shaun

Hard work beats talent

I had a bit of a long break from the blog over the past couple of months and I was finding it challenging to come up with things that I believed would be of value. Now that I have had the time to re-charge and gain some new ideas, I have lots that I would like to share. One place where I gained many ideas was from the great book ‘Mastery’ by Robert Greene. I will try to not have such a dry spell again. I didn’t realise it before, but I was stifling my progress as a writer when I wasn’t writing.
What is that makes a master? Some would argue that it is all about gifts and talents. To an extent, I agree with that, but there is more to it. The one thing that many people ignore is the number of practice hours it takes to get to a very advanced level.
In the book he shares the lives of many people who were considered to be masters in their chosen fields. One thing that was common to them all was that they spent a long period of time in the apprenticeship phase of their careers. This time was spent perfecting their craft and persisting. Now there comes a stage in this apprenticeship where the element of practice can become tedious and boring. The key is to push through this stage, having the ability to produce even when the flash of inspiration has left you. We still need to consistently produce. Since learning this, I have realised something that I always knew intellectually, but had not really put into practice. If I want to become an excellent writer, then the most important thing to do is consistently write. Now I’m nowhere near my potential yet, but I will get closer with as much practice as possible.
If I haven’t been hit by the thunderbolt of inspiration, keep writing.
If I haven’t got anything to say, then I am going to get the laptop out, load Microsoft word and think very intensely. Something might come to me.
Even when work is busy, keep on persisting and writing.
The pursuit of high level performance looks sexy and cool when you see the end result, but that end result is the culmination of many hours of consistent practice. If you want to become very good at anything, roll your sleeves up and get to work. I use my blog as my own apprenticeship in writing.
Have you got any activities or skills that you would like to fine tune to a high level?
If you do, are you getting in enough practice?
I wasn’t, but now I know the true route to mastery.

How I doubled work rate.

At work I have been trying to figure out how to speed up my work rate for some time. I used to be someone who was liberal with their level of tidiness. I would be ok with mess and could operate quite well in a messy environment or so I thought.

When I was walking to work, I was re listening to the audio-book time power by Brian Tracey. He has so many ideas for saving time that I couldn’t list them all here in this post. I have incorporated three of them and it has literally halved the time it takes for me to get things done.

I was sceptical about the effectiveness of these techniques. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t been suckered by outrageous claims by people trying to sell you a product? The difference with what Brian Tracey was advising is that he could explain the benefits behind the processes he would suggest and give real world examples of these strategies being executed. One such example sounded so much like me – The messy person who thought that he was saving time by leaving the tidy up until some day that never came. He was forced by Brian to use one of these strategies and found it to be revolutionary. OK. Enough hype. Here are the ideas that I have taken from Brian Tracey that have rapidly sped up my work rate.

End each day with a clear desk.

This one has been huge for me. It took a while to get the desk up to scratch because there was so much to sort out. However, once it was done, I challenged myself to maintain the same standard. Every night before you leave your office, make sure your desk is tidy.

This worked for me because tidying your desk means that everything is ordered so you can get to work straight away on your most important tasks without having to waste time looking for something you might need. It also means that I always have a clear desk so I never lose any paperwork anymore. There is something very productive about working in a space that is clear and uncluttered. It frees your mind to focus on the task.

The fab five

This is where you spend some time the night before the next work day, deciding what your five most high priority tasks are. Then you write those things done and they become your sole purpose for the next working day. This has been so good for me because of the nature of my job. I can work on my fab five before the children come to school and after they have left for the day. I realised that I had to be super focussed during those periods of time or I would not get everything done. Having a fab five list also means that you can politely but firmly say no to the jobs others have lined up for you when you arrive at work. Planning out the exact things you want to do with your day is proactive and effective. Anything that you do not complete gets added to the fab five for the next day. It also allows you to create a list of accomplishments that you can look back on to say you have completed them.

Have an effective filing system

Paper was the bane of my life. I had no idea what to do with it or where to put it. In short, the task of managing all my paper overwhelmed me until I was given this tip. I created a massive list categorising every piece of paper I could possibly get in alphabetical order. As soon as I receive a piece of paper from anybody, I then write on top of it where it’s going to go.

For example, I received a report about computing. I wrote computing on the top of it and filed it in C under computing. I have a file for A-E, F-J, K-O, P-T, and U-Z. Anything I’m given must be in the system by the end of the day because of rule one (*End with a tidy desk). So I leave work with all my papers in an order that has been personally organised in advance by me. This is great because I can find my work and any other paper I am given and access it within seconds. Another great tip with this system is to throw out anything that is not worth keeping. This means not being a hoarder (I was guilty of this) and making a decision on everything that is put in front of you. If you can find it somewhere else, or you will likely never look at it again, then don’t let it pile up. Throw it in the recycling bin and move on.

Inspire through action.

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I went to the park to complete my workout today. It was an intense session complete with kettlebell snatches, chin ups and dips. I was focused on the session and really enjoying my workout. When the first person of the session said hello to me during my workout. He was an elderly man. i would guess he was into his sixties. “Well done” he said as I struggled and strained through a set of chin ups. 

About five minutes later it happened again. “Keep going” the next observer commented as I completed my set of kettlebell snatches. Later on, a couple of boys were making their way towards me kicking a football between them, as they made their way closer to me, I saw them stop and watch me for a little while. They then waited until I had finished training on the chin up bars and decided to make their way over and have a go themselves.

These little exchanges reminded me that sometimes it’s watching someone take action that inspires us to take some for ourselves. Those boys were intrigued and interested in what I was doing. As a result they wanted to have a go at doing some chin ups for themselves. I wonder how many times they have walked past that bar without stopping to try. I hope that the man who saw me earlier on in my workout decided to do something a little more active that day. It’s not always what we say, but who we are and the actions we choose that can inspire others.