Barriers To Achieving Your Best Shape

Posted on |

Original article published – September 12, 2017

http://sarimarsden.com/new-blog/2017/9/12/barriers-to-achieving-your-best-shape

 

When it comes to fitness goals, typically most people will only focus on the Physical State, but in this context, I’d like to offer a definition of best shape that includes Mental and Emotional States as well as the Physical. If you can align all these three states, you will feel like you are in that metaphorical “zone”, not just in the area of fitness, but also in the other areas of your life.

Whether it’s personal development or fitness training, there are 3 barriers to achieving your best shape. These three barriers are excerpted from our current book “Fit to Lead”.

  1. Resistant to being honest about “Where Am I”?
    Often I meet clients who have a great deal of enthusiasm when they talk about where they want to be in the future, but who are a lot more resistant about looking honestly at where they are right now.
    Everyone likes to focus on the destination and “the vision thing”, and while that certainly is important, trying to get to that point without stopping to clearly establish your starting point in life is a very common trap. As we say in our book, if you are not honest about where you start from in life, then you are doomed in any attempt to reach your desired destination.
    Telling the truth about your starting point often requires courage. You have to be willing to give up your image as a “good” person (whatever you think that means).

Stop talking about where you want “To be” and start building your best shape by being honest about the “As is”.

  1. Resistant to asking for and accepting support.
    In general, we have observed two main reasons why people are reluctant to ask for and/or accept support. Some people do not want to be a burden; they worry that other people are already busy enough and don’t have the time or the energy to support them. Other people see asking for and accepting support as a sign of weakness. They have their whole identity wrapped in their ability to be able to do everything required on their own and see the need for support as a fundamental flaw in their own character.

Your fitness goal is your personal goal, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own!

 

  1. Resistant to the “Start now and start small” mantra.
    The desire for fast and immediate results is a common trend, but when it comes to fitness, it is not simply about the destination, it is also about embodying healthy choices and practices as we journey through life. This is what creates sustainable change.
    In our experience, people can be divided into two types when it comes to putting new behaviours in place. Some people resist getting started at all. There always seems to be a reason in their mental state pillar or a feeling in their emotional state pillar not to start now: “now is not the right time”, “I don’t know how to do it perfectly yet” or “I just don’t feel like it”. These are the great procrastinators, and underneath most, if not all, of their protestations is fear; fear of making a mistake, hurting someone else’s feelings or simply discomfort.
    Other people have no problem whatsoever with getting started. The word that they resist in the mantra is not “now”, but “small”. These people want to be on top of Mount Everest today. They are not interested in the small steps to get there. Their Mental State has them saying things such as “that’s too easy”, “it will take too long if that’s all I do” or “there’s no challenge in that, so what’s the point”, etc.  These people are often committed to getting started, rather than actually finishing.
    People with this mentality tend to quickly experience discomfort in their Emotional State and become frustrated, blow up or get bored along the way. They have tried to run before they can walk, and when they inevitably fall over, they tell themselves “it is impossible for me”, “it will take too long” or “something else is more important now”, and they go looking for something else to start and then the cycle repeats itself!

At the beginning of my own fitness journey, I was in this Mental State. I was good at starting things but not committed to actually finishing them. 11 years ago, I was one of those who paid a monthly gym membership just so I can enjoy my coffee in their comfortable lounge, rather than working out on their gym floor. I had no problem with “starting now” but I noticed my resistance towards “starting small”. Over time, I began to see how this did not serve my purpose. I had to tell the truth about where I was right now in my life and how my own mindset was holding me back.
Once I realised this, I became certain that I wanted to choose a different attitude and stick to it. How did I do this? I found a goal to which I was emotionally connected. It took time to reach where I am today, but it has been worth the practice.

 

So how do you move from here? A perspective:
When it comes to a fitness journey, there is no finish line, but you can always approach your fitness goal like a series of sprints and not a marathon. Always know that there is a pit stop coming up for you to recover, reset and relaunch yourself. Over time you will build the capacity to make healthier choices, in all three pillars. Physical, Mental and Emotional. Trying to build a great body with a Mental or Emotional State that does not allow you to grow is a fool’s errand. Your best shape (EVER) requires alignment across all of these states and yes, it will require you to get out of your comfort zone – physically, mentally and emotionally.

So, be honest about where you start, declare a goal that you are emotionally connected to, enlist support, start now and start small. Then develop regular practices that will take you towards your desired end point.

Sariusly.

Sari Marsden: Co-founder of Sarius Performance International and co-author of “Fit To Lead”.
Sari is a PCC certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, elite trainer with Nike+ Training Club and a Championship winning Fitness Physique Competitor for Team Singapore.

To further explore the possibility of taking your leadership and/or your performance to a new level, contact us at fittolead@sariusperformance.com

Instagram @sarisarius

Websites:

https://fittoleadbook.com/

 

 

The Importance of Protein in an Active Lifestyle

Posted on |

I think by this stage almost everyone knows that they ‘need’ protein, but in my lectures and workshops I still get questions like, “but won’t protein make me bulky?”, or, “won’t eating too much protein give me big muscles?”. And while most of us know that we do need to be eating ‘enough’ protein, less know how much ‘enough’ is and why it’s important!

What is it?
Protein quite simply is the building block of most of the structures in the body. ‘Protein’ is the name given to groupings of amino acids. Protein is broken down to these amino acids which are then used to create enzymes, muscle tissue, bone matrix and many other structural components of the body. All cells require protein.

Quick Fact: Over 98% of ALL the cells in your body are replaced every year!

Why do we Need it?
It helps us to become and remain lean! Protein has a higher ‘thermic effect of feeding’ (TEF) rating than either carbohydrates or fat. This means that when a higher proportion of your diet is protein your metabolic rate (and consequently fat loss) is going to be higher.

Improved Lean Body Mass
An optimal protein intake will allow us to maintain a higher lean body mass. This helps to give us the lean, fit looking physique that many desire (but not ‘bulky’!) whilst also improving metabolic rate further and helping to decrease fat stores and maintain leanness.

Improved Alertness and Focus
Amino acids supply the raw material for the excitatory neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, nor-epinephrine and dopamine. When we do not have enough of these amino acids we are more likely to suffer mental fatigue and physical fatigue.

Bone Structure and Health
Protein provides the matrix for bone and connective tissue. Ample protein helps to provide the structure for healthy bones!

How Much do we Need?
The recommended daily intake (RDA) for protein is based on the activity level of sedentary individuals and is measured by looking at the amount of protein taken in and compared with the amount excreted. It is approximately 0.8 grams per kilo of bodyweight.

What the RDA Doesn’t Take into Account
RDA and DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) are ‘necessary’ amounts for baseline health. In other words – survival. But the optimal amounts we need in order to thrive may be much different!

As long ago as 1975 Gontzea et al have shown that a level of 1.5grams per day per kilo of bodyweight were insufficient when exercise was undertaken and other studies have shown that Tour de France athletes were only able to maintain a positive nitrogen balance at an intake of 1.8g per kilo per day.

Levels up to 3g per kg bodyweight per day (over 3 x the RDA) have been demonstrated to increase lean body mass, reduce fat mass and improve performance.

Most people will do well to get at least the RDA level with additional protein if and when able but overall quantity should be less important though, than eating good quality protein consistently.

The key ‘take home’ point is to eat quality protein at every meal.

Examples of Good Clean Green Plant Based Sources Would be

  • Sprouted lentils, chick peas or mung beans
  • Nuts or seeds (almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds)
  • Tempeh or other fermented protein foods.
  • One 25g serve of Clean Lean Protein provides 22g of high quality protein.

Micronutrients and Immunity

Posted on |

Without a complete range of vitamins, minerals and secondary antioxidant nutrients we are unlikely to be able to sufficiently encourage optimal immunity and reduce oxidative damage.

Many of us are actually starving! We are eating enough, (if not more) calories than we need (energy) but not enough ‘nutrient dense’ foods. To ensure optimal nutrient status, we need to refocus on eating at least 6+ serves of vegetables per day, additional berries (which are high in nutrients while being lower in carbohydrates) and consider taking a nutrient-dense supplement. Highly nutrient dense supplements can help reduce oxidative damage and improve immunity.

There are specific nutrients that are fundamental in supporting your immune system. We’ve outlined some of the major ones below. Each of these can be sourced as separate supplements but remember that your primary source of nutrients should be from real food so look to include foods rich in these nutrients in your diet. Supplementation is your next line of defence; it is “insurance” to help fill the gaps.

Omega-3 rich fats

The omega fats are considered to act more like vitamins than fats. In other words, they are utilised as the precursors of various immune and inflammatory signalling chemicals in the body and are critical for proper functioning of the immune system!

In the modern world though we eat around 25:1 omega-6 to omega-3 compared to a ratio of 1-2:1 in Palaeolithic times. This increase, which has mainly occurred in the last 150 years due to higher consumption of grains, is detrimental to our health and can distort our immune and inflammatory processes.1

By taking a fish oil or algal supplement high in the omega 3 fats DHA and EPA, prioritising hemp and flax oils, nuts such as walnuts and macadamias, and by reducing the common, higher omega-6 vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, canola, rice bran, corn) we can help to redress our modern imbalance and have better immune function.

Foods rich in Omega-3 rich fats include: flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts, seafood, soybeans, and spinach.

b-carotene

Supplementation of b-carotene was shown to limit suppression of specific pathways that connect the innate and adaptive responses allowing for efficient long term immunity. (1)2 b-carotene is also known as proformed vitamin A and is the most common form in most products, however, to boost absorption and availability make sure you’re also getting preformed vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). Proformed vitamin A needs to be converted into retinol before most of its benefits become active whereas the preformed does not.

Foods rich in b-carotene include: sweet potato, carrots, spinach, cos lettuce, butternut pumpkin, cantaloupe, red capsicums.

Nuzest Good Green stuff contains 600 µg per 10g serving, and includes both retinyl palmitate and b-carotene. 

Vitamin B6

A deficiency in vitamin B6 impairs the production of specific cells and signalling molecules that are key in long-term immunity against pathogens.3

Foods rich in Vitamin B6 include: sunflower seeds, pistachios, tuna, chicken, pork, prunes, bananas and avocados.

Nuzest Good Green stuff contains 5.0mg per 10g serving.

Vitamin E

A study showed that supplementation of Vitamin E over 4-5 months promoted better long term immunity against pathogens against those that did not supplement. The results also suggested that older people may benefit the most from these effects and thus, vitamin E supplementation.4

Vitamin E is made up of 8 chemicals (4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols) but most products will contain only one or two which doesn’t have the same benefit as the entire 8 working together. Nuzest Good Green Stuff contains all 8 forms that means the vitamin E on the label is the whole vitamin E.

As the whole bundle, Vitamin E also is a great nutrient for antioxidant activity, that has regenerative qualities, playing an important role in eye function.

Foods rich in Vitamin E include: almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, sunflower seeds, butternut squash, trout, olive oil.

Nuzest Good Green stuff contains 515mg per 10g serve, which is 150% of the RDI for adults aged 19-50yrs in Australia

Selenium

Selenium is a vital mineral that plays a key role in reproduction, and is essential for normal thyroid and immune function. It is involved in making DNA and helps protect cells from oxidative stress. Studies have also shown that those deficient in Selenium have a higher risk of infection and increased severity of symptoms from a variety of viruses.5

Foods rich in Selenium include: brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, sardines, turkey, eggs, spinach.

Nuzest Good Green stuff contains 35 µg per 10g serving.

Zinc

Zinc is also a commonly used supplement during illness and was shown to limit the severity and duration of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.6 Note that zinc can be toxic if consumed in excess of the upper limit (40mg/day), check with your health practitioner if you plan to take more than this limit.

Zinc is commonly lacking in the diet, and is a critical nutrient for immune function. Taking a regular supportive multi-nutrient that includes zinc may support general health, immunity and winter wellness.

Foods rich in Zinc include: lean beef, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashews, cocoa powder, chickpeas, white mushrooms.

Nuzest Good Green Stuff contains 12mg per 10g serving.

 

References

  1. Simopoulos AP. Omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acid ratio and chronic diseases. Food reviews international. 2004 Mar 1;20(1):77-90.
  2. Fuller CJ, Faulkner H, Bendich A, Parker RS, Roe DA. Effect of beta-carotene supplementation on photosuppression of delayed-type hypersensitivity in normal young men. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1992 Oct 1;56(4):684-90.
  3. Meydani SN, Ribaya-Mercado JD, Russell RM, Sahyoun N, Morrow FD, Gershoff SN. Vitamin B-6 deficiency impairs interleukin 2 production and lymphocyte proliferation in elderly adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1991 May 1;53(5):1275-80.
  4. Meydani SN, Meydani M, Blumberg JB, Leka LS, Siber G, Loszewski R, Thompson C, Pedrosa MC, Diamond RD, Stollar BD. Vitamin E supplementation and in vivo immune response in healthy elderly subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Jama. 1997 May 7;277(17):1380-6.
  5. Calder, Philip C, Yaqoob, Parveen. Diet, Immunity and Inflammation [Internet]. Jordon Hill: Elsevier Science; 2013. [cited 2017 April 4]. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central
  6. Hirt M, Nobel S, Barron E. Zinc nasal gel for the treatment of common cold symptoms: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ear, nose & throat journal. 2000 Oct 1;79(10):778

5 Ways to Get Fit Faster in a Group Fitness Class

Posted on |

The health benefits of group workout classes will quash all your fitness excuses of getting fit & losing weight.

Going to a group exercise class is a great way to have fun with others who are also getting fit! If you haven’t tried group fitness classes, what are you waiting for?

The good news is that the benefits of group classes go far beyond just enjoying people’s company as you sweat and move. Working out in a group has several physical, psychological and social benefits for anyone looking to get leaner and fitter faster while having fun. Here’re 5 reasons why joining group fitness classes is one of the best ways to get fit.
1. Motivation

It’s one thing to decide to start exercising to get healthier, but to actually do it is the real challenge. Working out in a group can motivate you to show up at the gym because you wouldn’t want to bail on your workout buddies. It also motivates you to return repeatedly to the class, and share the energy and experience with everyone in the group exercise class.

2. Social Support

If you feel shy about stepping into a gym to work out alone, sign up for group fitness classes with friends to work out together and be one another’s source of support! Have your friend track your progress and egg you on when your motivation wanes.

In addition to strengthening the bonds with your friends, you’ll also meet other like-minded souls in the group fitness class. Say hello to and congratulate your new friends for a job well done after each group fitness class, and you’ll end up with new workout mates in no time. This makes group exercise classes a fun social occasion that is also mentally empowering at the same time.

Fitness asian

3. Happiness Boost

A study conducted at Oxford University in 2009 showed that athletes who trained for 45 minutes in a group showed higher endorphin levels than athletes who trained solo for the same amount of time. The study noted that these elevated endorphin levels were present in people who do synchronised activities—such as dancing, listening to music, and even laughing—together.

Some theories put forth from the study for this occurrence suggest that the surge of endorphins facilitates social bonding, and enhances cooperation and generosity among those who participate in the same activity. So raise your happy hormone levels by working out in group fitness classes.

4. Variety

Typically, big gyms offer a plethora of group exercise classes—on days when you want to take things easy, join a calming yoga class; if you feel on top of the world, dance it out with others in a dynamic dance class. Whatever your mood is, you can always find a group workout class that you fancy.

Additionally, group fitness classes are designed to target various muscle groups within a particular time frame, usually ranging from 30 to 90 minutes. No matter which class you choose, you can be sure of a good workout. Above all, the wide variety of classes will ensure that your fitness routine remains an exciting one.

5. Comprehensive programme

Each group fitness class has a programme structure that begins with a warm up, followed by a unique combination of fitness components ranging from power to agility, cardiovascular strength, balance and flexibility, then finally a cool down at the end. By attending a variety of group fitness classes, you ensure that you are constantly developing all your physical abilities, which helps you track your progress and personal improvement over time.

 

This story was originally published by our friends at SOULSCAPE.

Intermediate Exercises to Try on the Swiss Ball

Posted on |

In every gym I’ve been to, a Swiss ball is always present. Of course, you could do more than just sitting down on it. While performing any exercise on a Swiss ball, it’s best to keep your mid-section tight, so you do not feel any pressure on your lower back.

 

These two exercises are not that tough but challenging nonetheless, try it at the end of your workout, 3 sets of 10 slow and controlled repetition.

 

Mountain Climbing Plank – position one

 

Mountain Climbing Plank – position two

 

Scissors on a Boat – position one

 

Scissors on a Boat – position two

Bam, increase your balance and strength with the Swiss ball.

This article was originally posted by Personal Trainer, Jasmine Danker. Read more about Jasmine on her blog.

 

Get Fit & Lose Fat with 5 Easy & Effective Exercises After a Holiday

Posted on |

Work off fat quickly, post Christmas & New Year’s, with these fitness exercises that use your own body resistance weight.

So you overdid the feasting during the Christmas and New Year’s eve festivities, you’re guilty about skipping your regular fitness workout routine, and would like to lose the weight you’ve piled on. There’s no need to rush out and commit to a gym membership or yoga class package in a bid to get back in the fitness game.

While it may be a challenge, it’s possible to ease yourself back into your fitness workout routine to lose weight and get fit again. All you require is a yoga mat, your body’s weight, and these 5 yoga and fitness moves. These are my favourite to do for regular body conditioning. They’re so easy, you can do them at home every day and be done with your fitness workout in 20-minutes!

Flatten Tummy & Define Abdominal Muscles: Crunches & Reverse Crunches

You want that flat tummy, you’ve got to work for it! Combine crunches and reverse crunches to reduce stomach fat and define your abs. They also strengthen the lower back and pelvic muscles.

Begin with crunches. Lay on your yoga mat with your back flat on it, then bend your knees and place your feet flat on the yoga mat. You can either have your hands on the nape of your neck or cross them over your chest. Raise your shoulders and head off the ground and towards the ceiling, feel the engagement in your abs. Keep your shoulders and chest open—do not bring them forward. Reach as high as you can, hold for up to 5 counts, then return slowly onto the yoga mat. Ensure that your breath flows continuously as you do your crunches. Do this for 10-15 reps.

Reverse crunch | SOULSCAPE Asia

Start with reverse crunches after. Stay laying down on your yoga mat with both knees bent. Keep the knees bent as you raise both feet off the ground, so that the upper legs are perpendicular to the floor while the lower legs are parallel to the floor. Place your hands on the yoga mat, by the side of the hips. Keeping both legs together slowly bring your knees up towards your face, and lift your hips and tailbone off the ground. Ensure that your shoulders and arms always remain flat and in contact with your yoga mat. Then bring your hips and tailbone down but keep your legs in the air. Do this for 10-15 reps.

For an added challenge on the reverse crunch, after you’ve lifted the hips and tailbone off the ground, add a twist to the right as you bring the knees towards your face. On the next lift, twist to the left.

Improve Posture & Coordination: Yoga Cat-Cow Pose

One of the ways to warm the body up before any yoga flow sequence, the cat-cow pose is a stretch that combines the rounding of the back like a cat in cat pose or marjaryasana, and the arching of the back to open the chest in cow pose or bitilasana. This is a gentle yoga pose that strengthens the spine and neck, and stretches the hips, abdomen and back.

To do this pose, get into the yoga table pose. Keep your shoulders directly above your hands, and your hips are directly above your hips. Maintain a neutral position for your back, keep your head straight and your neck long as you look at the floor.

Yoga cow pose Bitilasana | SOULSCAPE Asia

Begin by getting into cow pose—inhale as you press your chest forward and lift your sit bones upwards, allowing your belly to sink towards the floor. Lift your head to gaze up, and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for one breath.

You cat pose marjayasana | SOULSCAPE Asia

Transition in to cat pose—exhale and round your spine outwards, tucking in your tailbone by moving your pelvic bone forward. Release your head and let it hang as you gaze towards your hips. Hold for five to 10 breaths, then repeat.

Build Core Strength: Front & Side Planks

Whether it is yoga, Pilates, TRX, Crossfit, dance or pole dance, these fitness workouts all require core strength for ease of execution. Planks are a great way for using your own body weight to engage the core muscles—glutes, legs, back, arms, chest, and abs. You can do planks without a yoga mat but having a good one will provide better support and comfort.

Front plank | SOULSCAPE Asia

Front planks are easier than side planks, so let’s start with that. Lay on your stomach. For beginners, support yourself by keeping your forearm and elbows on the yoga mat as you lift your body off the mat onto your toes. Increase the challenge by supporting yourself on your hands instead—place your palms on the mat below your shoulders, then push yourself off the mat onto your palms and toes.

Keep your spine straight and gaze ahead, ensuring that there is no tension in the neck. Engage your abs, glutes, thighs, and buttock muscles. Keep this position and stay for 15-30 seconds. As you gain strength, hold the pose for 60 seconds or longer.

If front planks are too easy for you, twist into side planks (see main image)! Begin by twisting to one side first—keep your right palm and right leg on the mat as you twist to face the left side. Lift your left foot off the yoga mat and stack it on top of the right foot as you engage your abs, inner thighs, glutes, and buttock muscles. Raise your lift hand and reach up to the ceiling, turn your head to gaze at your left palm. Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds, building up to 60 seconds or more. Come back down to plank, then twist and repeat on the left side.

Condition Upper Body & Arms: Push Ups

Pushup with hands in diamond shape | SOULSCAPE Asia

Push ups should be a piece of cake—excuse the pun!—for those who can do front and side planks. Instead of holding the plank pose, you bring your body and chin down towards the yoga mat without touch it all this time keeping the body straight, then push yourself back up to plank position again. Do 10-15 reps. Beginners can keep their knees on the yoga mat for support.

Want a greater challenge? Bring your hands in from the side to the centre, and place them in a diamond shape on the mat.

Strengthen Lower Body: Lunges & Reverse Lunges

Lunge | SOULSCAPE Asia

Lunges are the fitness workout that condition the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles. Begin by standing straight and with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right foot and step forward to lower your body until the knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Your left knee is about 10cm off the floor with the heel pointing to the sky, and there’s a long stride. Maintain stability by distributing your weight on to both your feet, engaging your core, and keeping your back straight. Return to standing position then repeat the move with the other foot. Do 10 reps on each side.

Reverse lunges place greater focus on the glutes, but still work all the other muscles. For reverse lunges, you step backwards instead. Everything else remains the same.

EASE INTO IT

Since these fitness workout moves are meant to ease you in to a regular fitness routine, take it easy. The idea is to get your body used to movement and workouts. Focus on one area each day, and by the end of the week, you have worked on all parts of your body! This will also have prepared your body to return to your regular workout.

This story was originally published by our friends at SOULSCAPE.

Modelled by: Patricea Chow

Yoga mat: MADANA

Yoga
Photography: Jinwen Tho

HIIT Workout 2

Posted on |

With the New Year well underway and everyone enjoying the festivities, (maybe a little too much) I have made it simple and easy for you to not forego your fitness with another HIIT workout that can be done from your lounge room floor.

By activating all the major muscle groups consistently, your body’s metabolism kicks into gear and the fuel starts burning.

If you have time to have a few festive drinks, then you have time for a few festive exercises too.

Its only 4 exercises, 4 times over and done 4 times each week. TOO EASY.

So enjoy the final festive season HIIT workout and have a very fit, healthy and happy New Year.

 

HIIT workout

A busy person’s guide to priorities in stress transformation

Posted on |

Now that you know what your nutritional toolbox looks like, let’s take a look at the self-help side of managing stress. The first take home is that you are anything but powerless – no matter where you are on your stress continuum. Depending on your current level of stress, swallowing that chill pill might not seem the easiest thing to do, but taking the first step towards it is all you need to do because the next step will magically present itself to you.

As human beings, our natural state is happy, stress-free and mindful. All too frequently modern life intervenes and with many people living at the edge of their adaptive ranges, physically, mentally and emotionally. Given that our natural state is encoded deep in our genes, taking a few active stress-lowering steps during your day can make a world of difference to how you feel and how you cope with your individual challenges.

Creating your chill-out toolkit

  • Just like getting travel directions, you need to know where you and where you want to go before you start. Get SMART and be clear on your goal, no matter how simple or basic it is. Goals don’t have to be huge or challenging watersheds in your life, they just need to be meaningful to you. Whilst you may have a laundry list, try to focus on one at a time to give yourself the best chance of success and avoid overwhelm:-
    • Specific – what EXACTLY do you want to achieve?
    • Measurable – how will you know if you’ve achieved it?
    • Attainable – is it something you have control over it?
    • Relevant – is it applicable to the place you are in?
    • Time-bound – what is your deadline for change?
  • Be honest with yourself, how ready are you for change? On a scale of 0–10 — and take a moment to draw it as a horizontal line — with 0 being not ready for change and 10 being rip-roaring raring to go. If you mark your line at 8 or above, you’ve hit a high confidence score and are in the right ballpark for succeeding. Don’t beat yourself up for anything lower, it just means you might need to incorporate some of the tools below first to get yourself into a more resilient state of mind.
  • Mindfulness may seem like the buzz-word of the moment, but it’s a powerful element in any chill-out toolkit. Frequently confused with meditation, mindfulness simply means being fully engaged and present in the moment. Your moment can be 10 seconds or 10 minutes depending on how much time you have and how able you are to harness your mind. Whilst we wield the ability to multitask like a badge of honour, it’s actually the fastest way to unmindfulness that exists. A mind that flits from one task and one thought to another is actually disengaged, distracted and often, unhappy. There is robust research out there that proves that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind and contributes to increased stress. Stop, focus on a point in front of you/your breathing/the moment at hand/the feeling in your body – basically anything to still and center your mind – and breathe slowly and rhythmically. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the present moment and keep breathing. The quiet space that ensues within is mindfulness and you’ll derive benefit from as little as 10 seconds if that’s all you have time for. Ideally you’ll take ‘mindfulness breaks’ a few times a day for 30 to 90 seconds.
  • Appreciation isn’t just about recognising nice things about people or things, it’s a powerful way to centre yourself and bring you into harmony with the earth and the world around you. As a slight adaptation to the mindfulness exercise above, use something you have huge appreciation for as your focus and then beam that appreciation out of you and imagine it flooding the space around you.
  • Build some ‘me’ time into your week – you deserve it and it’s an essential sanity-preservation strategy!
  • Actively listen to your self-talk and rate it for negativity. If you’re overly negative, critical or even hostile make strides to reframe your self-talk and reach for positives.
  • Engage in supportive lifestyle activities like sleeping an appropriate number of hours (anywhere from 6-9), eating rightand using appropriate and targeted supplementation, and being active outdoors in nature.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are powerful stress-busting needle-movers for your tool-kit. Twenty minutes a day of mindful activity (and it doesn’t have to be in one session either) has been proven to create measurable healthy changes in the brain. Mindful activity also helps to increase happiness and positivity, to cope with chronic pain, to support the immune system and reduce days off work. It doesn’t stop there, research shows that it also slows the ageing process, increases energy metabolism, supports better blood sugar management and leads to less inflammation and stress. Basically, you climb off the edge of the precipice and increase your adaptive range. What are you waiting for, stop reading and start appreciating!