Think Healthy – Why Your Self Image Is Important In Your Health Journey

photo of woman looking at the mirror
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Our behaviours are intricately tied to how we feel. How we feel is tied to how we think. How we think is tied to the beliefs that we have. And our beliefs are tied to the view we have of ourselves.

How do you view yourself in terms of your health? Do you think you are good at managing your health? Or do you think you always struggle to control your weight, have poor eating habits and that’s just “who I am”?

Who You Think You Are Is How You Act

Here is a different point of view – whatever you think of yourself is true. You will naturally take on the behaviours and habits of the person you think you are. It is why its so difficult to decide to do something different like go to the gym regularly and not have it be a struggle – because you still see yourself as someone who isn’t a fit person/gym goer, you don’t see it as natural for you.

Here is a shortcut to life– you can “hack” your habits, emotions, bad behaviours and not stuggle with working out regularly and eating healthily by deciding to become someone who has it easily.

Yes, you can simply decide to change your view of yourself. And the results will follow. Eventually.

You essentially have to fool yourself into seeing yourself as the person who has no problem working out or making healthy choices the majority of the time. You need to be a little delusional; you need to see it in your mind before anything else.

It requires a change in who you think you are. Think to yourself: if I was the healthy fit version of me – what would I eat? What would I do in the morning? When would I work out?

This requires a level of self-introspection, self-awareness and discipline because when you’re faced with that situation where you have to wonder you might be choosing between taking 15minutes to make a simple healthy meal vs grabbing a frozen dinner from the freezer right when you get home

How Would You Deal With Stress?

Would you decide to indulge in comforting activities such as having a six pack of beer/ bottle of wine and eating up some super greasy steak and burgers – vs taking a night to destress in other ways eg calling a close friend, spending time in nature, taking a nap etc. I.e. partake in activities that won’t necessarily move you backwards on your progress.

Once in a while, letting go might not derail you but a couple times a week/month – and you’re likely to be sliding towards the negative.

Why It’s So Hard To Change

The reason is because you see yourself as you’ve “always been like this, so it must be set in stone”. It’s too much energy to fix and it probably wont work.

The combination of comfort in your lifestyle, anticipated distress cause it means giving up delicious foods and “punishing” yourself with exercise – coz working out sucks.

Self-doubt due to prior unsuccessful attempts and a sunken cost fallacy-esque way of seeing things (I’m too old/there’s no point in changing now, it’s too late!).

These all put in barriers to discourage majority of us from even trying, or trying with the expectation of failure.

Well guess what, you WILL have setbacks. You will have episodes of derailment. However the key to remember is that failure doesn’t actually exist – it only does because we give up too soon and don’t stick to it long enough.

Persist In Your New Self Image To Succeed

If you decide to act as if you were the healthier version of you – and wake up early to go to the gym – or try to sleep earlier every night or swap out the cool drink for the sugar free version, it’s not so difficult to do for a week, or 2 weeks or even a month.

But what happens in majority of cases? What do they say that 85% of diets fail? They don’t fail because they don’t work, the fail because people give up.

And people give up because it is so uncomfortable and unnatural for them, and they cannot stand to be uncomfortable for a long period of time. What NOT giving up does, what deciding to continue to act as if does is, it actually makes ehat felt uncomfortable more natural instead. It’s essentially settting in new behaviours to become your new habits.

You get used to it and it becomes your “normal” thing.  It’s no longer so mentally taxing to choose the grilled option when going out and when you go food shopping you buy less packaged stuff and more natural foods.

It might take weeks or month to get to this state though and it’s why people get stuck and give up. We say “it’s too hard”.

Decide to be a healthier version of you, take up the behaviours and act as if you are already the fit version of you.

And you have to stop coddling yourself to always want to be comfortable if you are trying to get somewhere. Unless you’re where you want to be then yes, by all means, live life in comfort.

However if you have a goal, you probably will be in growth/discomfort mode quite often.

So if you can learn who you’d want o be and how you want to see yourself, ask yourself “what would healthy version of myself do in this situation” majority of the day, keep doing that for weeks on end until it’s natural for you, you will succeed.

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25 Hacks And Tips For The Festive Season

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It’s Christmas time!

It’s all about the holiday spirit and of course spending time with your loved ones. It only comes around once a year so you can relax and put your rigorous fitness journey on a pause because life is meant to be celebrated. Of course Christmas and holiday time is usually synonymous with over-eating of delicious food.

The important thing is to prioritise spending quality time with your loved ones: family and friends, however you can still have some hacks to help you stay on track, if you so wish.

Christmas is 1 day out of 365 which is 0.27% of the year. One day will not derail any progress you’ve made during the year if you have already built good habits on the other days during the year.

Even 7 days is 1 out of 52 weeks which is 1.9% of the year, which also will not derail your progress, if you have good habits as a baseline.

However if you would still like to have some simple health hacks and tips you can use to incorporate into your day, here are 25 that may help you out:

1. Use Your Satiety As A Measure/Control

Use your feelings of fullness to assess your level of whether to keep eating or to take a break. Needing to unbutton the top of your jeans is expected, but if you need to unzip it too and are sweating profusely, you may have gone a bit far and can hold off for a few hours to give your body a chance to rest.

2. Have Water In Between Your Meals

Staying hydrated will keep your from unnecessarily eating. It’s still important to drink water – with the expectation of all the salty, spicy, oily food about to be eaten, it’s important to keep your water up. It can help with bloating and definitely prevent hangovers.

3. Eat Your Meals Slowly – Savour Every Bite

Take your time and eat slowly, without distractions to enjoy your food. This will help you not only cherish the food more but you will eat less due to the mindful nature of the activity. Eating mindlessly and quickly is an easy way to end up overeating.

4. Make Time For A Walk

Staying active is a good habit and even something as simple as a 30 minute walk with the family can bring you together while getting your feet moving.

5. Eat Your Greens First – To Get Them Out Of The Way

At breakfast time, be sure to include some vegetables eg a spinach omelette or green smoothie, because as the day carries on usually the indulgences roll in and eating properly is the last thing on your mind. So you can use your higher willpower and freedom in the mornings to get ahead on your greens.

6. If You Do Have Time – Go To The Gym Early In The Morning

Squeezing an early morning gym session before the family is up can energise you, keep you on track for your fitness journey and put you in a great mood ahead of the day. You’ll be ready for the delicious meals and activities the day will have to bring.

7. Focus On The Moment and Be With The People Rather Than Focus Solely On Food

Being present and focusing on spending time with and catching up with your loved ones will help reduce food focus, rather than only thinking about what lunch will be and what dinner will be. Nuture your connections tothe people around you as a point of focus instead.

8. Eat The Foods You Don’t Eat Often

If you must overindulge, do it on foods you don’t frequent – special delicacies, homemade recipes from your granny or a local food. Eating food you eat everyday eg cookies, soft drinks, staple home meals eg plain rice, pasta etc can be seen as a “waste of calories” since they aren’t really that special. See the day as a day that is special and to enjoy special meals and drinks and it can reduce your overconsumption of calories.

9. For Alcohol – Stick To Dry Wines and Spirits

Dry wines and spirits with mixers have lower calories for the same effect. Cocktails tend to to high in calories, whereas beers and ciders can because you’d usually have to take several to reach the effect. So choose your alcohol mindfully if you so wish – and remember to drink water to prevent a hangover.

10. Minimise Snacking Unnecessarily

This ties in to points number 2 and 7 – snacking mindlessly can unnecessairly overshoot your daily intake. So do be mindful of what you eat and save the snacking for those that are truly worth it.

11. Intermittent Fast – And Have Christmas Dinner In The Eating Window

Planning to have a big meal? Intermittent fasting can help becuase you wil limit your intake to theose meals – which will most likely exceed your usual intake. It serves as a buffer to keep your calorie intake moderate, rahter than if you eat freely all meals at all times.

12. Do Some Extra Cardio

If you are working out, adding in a 20 minute HIIT workout or a 30 minute cardio session 2x a week can also be a buffer. However, it’s important not to see it as a punishment for eating because there should be no guilt attached to any activity – both eating and working out should be enjoyable.

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13. Focus On Good Quality Sleep

Even with all the holiday madness and happening, it’s still important to have a good sleep routine so be sure to do so if the option is available. If you’re having a late night bonding session with a cousin you haven’t seen in so long, have the session and have better sleep the next day.

14. Don’t Forget Mindfulness And Meditation

It comes down to being in the present moment and avoiding distracctions such as your phone for savouring the time you have with your loved ones. YOU are also important so don’t neglect your self care routines and meditation – especially if you need it in the case of moments of frustration with family (we know how family can be).

15. Have Protein Filled Meals Around Your Big Meals

Having meals high in protein will keep you full and keep you from overeating, especially on the “simple” foods we mentioned – the basics everyday. You’ll have room for granny’s special meal while hitting your protein for the day.

16. Incorporate Some Activities – Cycling, Dancing Etc To Stay Active

Having a dancing session or doing outdoors activities during this time is a good way to stay active as well. When everyone is moving, the endorphins that are released will get everyone ina good mood which helps with nuturing the connections even more.

17. Don’t Stress About Tomorrow/Next Week And Fully Enjoy Your Meals

Live in the moment – enjoy your day and make the most of it. Enjoy it for what it is.

18. If You Want To – Do A High-Volume Resistance Training Workout -Food Is Great Fuel For Gains

The benefit of high calorie high carb meals? They are just the fuel for growing muscles, so go and stimulate those muscles to use the food by doing a challenging workout and make gains all the way through the festive season!

19. Bring/Make An Alternate Healthy Meal – If You Want

An option of making a healthier version of a meal eg cake made with oat flour instead of wheat flour, can help you stay on track. Do remember that most people are not thinking about health of fitness at this time and some may not be eager or understand why. However your journey is your own, and you are free to do as you wish and what you feel is best for you regardless of others’ opinions. Just don’t be the annoying health nut at the Christmas table.

20. Practice Portion Control

Have 2 servings instead of the 4 you had last year. Use a smaller plate. Use a smaller serving spoon to measure out the cheesecake. Reducing portion size with reduce intake, and if you eat mindfully as of point number 2, it will be just as delicious and you will have savoured the moment.

21. Less Soft Drinks – They’re Too Everyday – Have The More Limited Drinks

Drinks are an easily over-consumed calorie source, so it is wiser to have the more limited and special drinks, in order to make the calories worth it

22. Share Your Meal With A Family Member/Friend/Partner

Share your plate with your little niece or nephew and reduce your total calorie intake whil bonding closer to your loved one.

23. Don’t Think Of It A Cheat Meal/Rarity

Think of it as a special time to bond with your loved ones while enjoying food with them as part of a social setting. Thinking of it as a cheat meal might make you see food as being deprived and you’re now “allowed” to have them. Think more in terms of abundance and joy than limits and restrictions being lifted.

24. Don’t Eat For The Sake Of Eating

If you don’t want to eat or you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat. Just because the food is there, doesn’t mean it has to be eaten. This ties in to mindful eating.

25. Enjoy Yourself!!

Enjoy the day, be grateful for the blessings you have,the loved ones in your life and the opportunity to afford to BE health conscious.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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The Power Of The Compound Effect

Do one thing today. Tomorrow aim to do it just 1% better. The next day aim to do it better by another 1 %. And so on and so forth. In one year, you will have a 365% improvement in that activity.

In life there are certain areas that benefit from consistent daily habits. The one we are most familiar with is with finances – compound interest on a savings account. Over 3 decades you could have millions from small weekly or monthly contributions, made every month without fail.

Its simple. Almost too easy.

Health works in the same way in that the small things you do everyday, add up to huge effects over time. It is the reason why the weight slowly creeps up without noticing OR the reason why you find it easier and easier to stay healthier.

We Love Complexity

The reason we look for the newest gimmick, or the latest diet, the most effective exercise or search for new ways to achieve our goal is this: we don’t like simplicity.

It’s hard to believe that small easy actions can truly take us to being the dream version of ourselves. It seems too easy. It must be fake. We don’t trust it.

The idea of overnight successes, grinding daily and making our dreams come to life in 3 months with a magic combination of techniques and strategies excites us more.

Yet if we look at the truly successful people in all areas of life, I mean those who are true pioneers and leaders in their field, one theme lays constant.

The put the work in. For a long time. And they started with the easiest, most obvious steps.

They came across obstacles, failures, and they didn’t give up. Most importantly, they aimed to get better with every day and opportunity that came. This activity repeated for a long period of time got them to where they are, and where we wish to be.

Take A Chance On Simplicity

By now, in this technologically advanced time, there’s no shortage of information. Especially about the latest, quickest, most effective way to do ABC. You’ve probably tried some of these strategies and maybe had some success.

So the way going forward is to take 1 (ONE) activity, the single one that will most contribute towards what you are aiming to achieve, and decide to do it every day. For 30 minutes. And aim to do it just a little bit better each time you do.

Wash, rinse and repeat for 3 years. When you look back, you won’t believe how far you’ve come.

Keep it simple, that’s the underlying key for it all. Then your efforts will stack on top of themselves. It will be slow to start, but a point will come in which exponential growth occurs, and then you are zooming past the clouds.

You just need to keep it simple and keep it up long enough.

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Belief Matters Most – In Everything You Do

Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.

Henry Ford

We’ve heard that quote before, and it seems pretty cliche, right? Well the reason things get cliche is that there tends to be a reason for them to be over-used or over-said – the information is usually based on fact. This quote is anyway.

The true power of your attitude and mindset is only going to be appreciated for the unlimited power that it is when you take the chance to believe in something you have not yet allowed yourself to believe.

Yes, you have the power to allow yourself to believe what you want, contrary to what you may have thought all along.

We wait to find someone to love us and enter a relationship to then be able to feel love (ie a relationship allows us to feel love ie believe we are worthy or love). We wait until we lose our job or have a pandemic in order to start thinking about our finances (ie crisis allows us to be more financially aware, ie believe we need to reduce spending and save more).

Only then, when either in a situation of loss or where we physically see something in front of us to we give ourselves permission to think in a different way, to believe in something different.

And it’s exactly the same with your fitness and health, we believe only “when I lose Xkg” or “when i can run Xkm in 20minutes”, or “when I can do a handstand to a split” THEN will you be fit and healthy, and deserving of the title or status of being a “fitness” person.

Allow Yourself To Believe First

I’m here to tell you that lucky for us, we can choose to believe even before the result.

Let’s say you simply grind away robotically at something. You may see physical results eg if you eat a boiled egg diet for a month, you will SEE the result of dropping weight. Yet it will not be truly lasting and sustainable, especially self-sustainable – free from any need of external validation – because it hasn’t been engrained in your mind to become natural and “normal” for you. So the pounds will pack back on, and likely even more than what you started with.

We can use the power of belief to reverse this process. It works the other way round – only when you first believe that you are eg a happy healthy person , then you can take on their behaviours; act like them; eat like them; workout like them etc and only at the end, will you see the physical proof in front of you – looking fit, having more energy and most importantly loving yourself.

Sure, it hard to completely rely on faith especially on the matter of health; there are so many measurable indicators of whether your health is good or not! – Your weight, body fat percentage, yoga poses attainable, how you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror naked. So what do you do even before you’ve started, when there’s no proof? When you’re at the starting point, what anchors your belief?

The Proof Will Come When The Effort Is Applied

On early days, you will likely have high motivation and energies to push through, and in this stage, as you create your beliefs such as “I am flexible and strong”, you might struggle to touch your toes, let alone do a crane pose. What you need to do is put in the work consistently, even on the days when the days are rough, and look for the improvements.

You will improve over time as you put in the work, this is an undeniable fact. You just need to be aware of how each time it gets easier and easier to touch your toes; how now it gets easier to wake up at 5am; how you feel less hungry and more satiated you feel as the days pass since switching to an egg white omelette for breakfast instead of your normal cereal; or even how much easier the workouts feel at the gym.

These teeny tiny small changes is exactly what you use to back up your beliefs. If you chose to become more energetic, through the work of diet changes and working out, you notice the actual improvements. They serve as hella motivation for you to continue pushing on which leads to more change which allows you to push on and have more change and on and on and on.

Until you reach the point where you have made so many changes and see yourself as the goal achieve and maintaining that vision of yourself becomes easy. It is easy because its who you are being, it becomes who you are.

In the same way who you currently are right now feels easy for you to be; you have this set of beliefs (whether you’re aware of them or not) that govern what you say, eat, think and act. The current sets of beliefs you have is what is creating the reality you have right now.

So if you want a new reality, whether it is physical appearance, energy levels, or simply improving your overall health, all you have to do is to allow yourself to believe in something new.

It all starts with a crazy idea, the crazy belief you can bring the idea to life (which I KNOW you can) and the crazy plan to achieve it. All you’ll need then is the stick-to-it iveness and patience.

Dare to dream, and believe it even more.

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Positivity Tips During This Quarantine Period

The times are changing for the moment and I choose to look at it as an opportunity for change or to build on other areas of the life. Maybe because I’ve spent such a long time in the past with a negative mindset without any change that now having realised focusing on the negatives does nothing to help any situation.

In reality, what we focus on grows. So if you focus on the positive, you will find more to be grateful for and be happy about.So what are the positives we can find or do in the ongoing quarantine/social isolation period? (PS I hope you are practising good hygiene as well).

  • More cooking at home

I have previously posted about breakfast, meal prep, and just recently created an ebook on a guide on how to cook meals for the busy working person, which most of us are. As we take precautions at home, we have a chance to really work on and hone our cooking skills. Those dishes you wanted to try or simply improving on your lasagna recipe, is now completely possible. As best part is, once all of this blows over (which it will), you’ll be armed with better confidence and skills in the kitchen, which will save your money and allow you and your family to enjoy delicious meals. It’s a win-win!

  • Improving your sleep

Staying at home will give a chance to work on your sleep including increasing your hours – especially if you work many hectic hours. It is tempting to spend the time saved from working binge watching Netflix – and sure please have some down time, but this is a unique chance to work on improving your sleep, sleeping at a set time and waking up at a set time, for 7-8hours uninterrupted. Make “rise and shine” a motto. Getting adequate sleep also helps regulate your mood and appetite, so you will get less cravings and better control of your mood – which is important to maintain in this time period.

  • At-home workouts

A 30 minute routine in the morning, a yoga routine from Youtube, or starting a calisthenics journey and get the strength or body that you want – this is the perfect time! You can find a workout that you enjoy and are able to stick to, and sure enough when this quarantine period ends, you will have not given in to the temptation of spending the whole time eating and slobbering around, but have a tool to improve your health. And you’ll feel proud of yourself too for sticking to it.

  • Practising mindfulness and gratitude

Take each day to truly appreciate when you do have – the family you have, the friends who support you, a safe home, your health, food to eat, and the power to choose what you focus on. Without all the distractions of having to travel here or there, you can sit and be grateful for all that you have in your life. Thanks to the internet, you can still keep in contact with your loved ones and cherish them, remember to appreciate them and express gratitude and love for their presence in your life. This will create a positive air around you and you’ll feel grounded even amongst all that’s happening right now.

  • Work on that hobby or project

Wanted to learn how to play guitar, or to carve wood? You now have the time to really do so. Or yet find a hobby to include your child or sibling or parent so that it’s a bonding activity that’s going to build memories with those you live with at home. If you stay alone, you can now learn the piano or work on that side hustle you always wanted to do.

In summary, this quarantine period is a time to cherish the fact that you do have control over what you choose to focus on, and will feel much more productive is this new “free” time is spent mostly doing things what will enrich your mind and body and be grateful for what you do have. Instead of spending this time at home glued to the TV where its all bad news 99% of the time, worrying about what you cannot control, you have the ability to choose to work on better ways to spend your time, energy and focus.

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