Monday, April 15, 2019 / Singapore

Beat temptation and boost self control

Temptation is everywhere

When we set off on our fat loss journey, we always have the best intentions and determination, but sometimes it can only take a little 'wobble' to distract us and throw us off track.  We have socials with friends.  We have family occasions and birthdays at work, where people bring cakes and other treats.  We hold out for so long and your friend says "go on, it's only 'a' beer".  Or, "just a slice won't hurt".  Then before you know it, that beer turns into six, the slice turns into a quarter.  It's not that you're 'weak' or have no discipline, it's just hard work concentrating for a long time and self control is a stress.

To take some stress off, here are four easy-peasy ways you can boost your self control:

#1: Have a plan 

Firstly know your diary.  Secondly use it.  Book in the gym.  Book in meal prep time (shopping, prepare and cooking).  These are the two 'big ones'.  Failing the motivation?  Book a personal trainer.  Failing shopping, preparing and cooking your own food?  Get a meal prep company to deliver.  Intentional Implementation is a strategy I use with clients, to help deal with incidences where they feel them might 'fold'.  It's as easy as X=Y or Y=X.  Right, if 'Y' is having a few beers on a Friday night, then that's cool.  But we know that's going to set us back in the short term.  To help combat the negative effects of the booze on our fat loss goal, we need to compensate.  That could be 'if I do Y,  I will go the gym in the morning and have smaller meals during the day' (X).  Or it could be, after I've had a few beers (Y), "I will go the gym the next day and eat 'clean' for the rest of the week" (X).

#2: Rethink temptation 

When faced with temptation or a craving, think about the particular vice in another way (in NLP, you would be changing the 'sub modalities').  For instance, look at the images below.  Which one looks for more appealing?  Hopeful you're saying the 3D-coloured image on the right.

Look at the images below.  Which one looks more appealing? Again hopefully you chose the image on the right.

By changing the image in our minds, we can start to disconnect and disasociate.  This can also be done with smell and taste.  Just recall a tase or smell you don't particularly like and associate it with the craving you have.*

*Sometimes it's not a simple as this and you may need a little bit more help, or the use of another strategy.

#3: Avoid-Avoid-Avoid

The best way to avoid temptation is too literally, avoid temptation.  For instance, if you walk past the same bakers everyday on the way to work and get you're pulled in and end up buying the same danish (which you know isn't going to help your weekly fat loss target), then take a different route to work.  Temptation diverted-mission success.


#4: Flex your self control muscle

With just like building muscle in the gym, you get bigger and stronger by completing repetition after repetition, the same also applies to strengthening self control. If you start resisting the smaller things the better you'll get at resisting the bigger things. In one of the first demonstrations of this idea, researchers asked volunteers to follow a two-week regimen to track their food intake, improve their moods or improve their posture. Compared to a control group, the participants who had exerted self-control by performing the assigned exercises were less vulnerable to willpower depletion in follow-up lab tests. In another study, the researchers also found that smokers who practiced self-control for two weeks by avoiding sweets or regularly squeezing a handgrip were more successful at quitting smoking than control subjects who performed two weeks of regular tasks that required no self-control, such as writing in a diary.

It's like this guys, ultimately temptation causes a conflict of interest-stress.  You want short term fulfilment ie the happiness gained from having a beer, which is fine; but the conflict comes when you want to hit your ultimate fat loss goal, ie long term fulfilment.  

So what will you choose, the 'smaller sooner' or 'larger later'?  Keep it real folks.


Thursday, April 11, 2019 / Singapore

Five things you can do to give you an extra six years

Across the world mens average life expectancy is 73.9 (down south it's around 83, whilst up in north-west, it's an average of 74).   Men die an average six years younger than women and for reasons that are largely preventable, mainly doing stupid things. Genetically men are more likely to die sooner, but you can still implement certain habits that can help beat the stats, so you live healthier, happier and still add years.

1. Spend time with people who make
you feel good

Stay connected. Your mates are important and spending time with them is good for you. Just by catching up with mates regularly, you can boost brain health and reduce the risk of dementia.

Stuck for ideas of how to connect with more people?  Let's see if these can help give you a nudge:
  • Use technology to Skype or Facetime long distance friends and fam
  • Say hello to people you meet or approach in the street
  • Babysit for your friends 
  • If you've got kids, take them to one of those 'mad house' indoor play parks and empathise with other parents in the same pain
  • Join a local class or group you may have an interest in
  • Get on Groupon and find some cheap activities you and mate can do for cheap
  • Go out to music nights during the week at local venues (local pubs tend to have this sort of thing during the week-just go easy on the booze, maybe a glass on the old vin rouge...)
  • Volunteer at your favourite charity organisation, like soup stations
  • Visit somewhere polar opposite to where you'd normal hang out.  For me, it might be a zoo or a museum
  • Participate in a neighbourhood or community group, like cubs or scouts
  • Have a friend or family member over for coffee or tea
  • Play cards or board games with others
  • Get a gym buddy

2. Talk, more

70% of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 48% say that they rely on their friends. In other words: we’re here for our mates, but worried about asking for help for ourselves. Reaching out is crucial.    Getting a trained counsellor, therapist or coach will listen to you and help you find your own answers to problems, without judging you.  They'll give you time to talk, cry, shout,  reflect and just think. It's an opportunity to look at your problems and get them off your chest in a different way, with a professional who'll respect you and your opinions, without judgement.

3. Grab a feel

You've been playing around with them all your life, but do you really know your nuts?  Give them a check regularly and go to the doctor if something doesn’t feel right.  Not sure what you're checking for?  Head to for more help.


4. Do as the French do

The "French Paradox'" (why French people can indulge in fatty foods but not develop heart disease), came to attention in the early 90's. Since then, scientists have been feeding components of red wine to mice and other animals in an attempt to understand the full health benefits and they found that Resveratrol (The Important Flavonoid in Red Wine), could be key to understanding how the french can do it.

Red wine is high in flavonoids, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent certain molecules, known as free radicals, from damaging cells.

One of the most studied flavonoids is resveratrol, which is found in grape skins and seeds. It's also found in some other plant foods, including cranberries, mulberries, lingonberries, peanuts, and pistachios.

Research (though no consistent research), has credited resveratrol with possible protective effects against a variety of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, it's been linked to longevity.

Resveratrol may act on several parts of your body to improve longevity:
  • It activates the longevity-related protein sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)
  • It helps to improve insulin sensitivity
  • It improves mitochondria function, which plays a role in aging
Buuuuut, remember we're not talking a bottle.  I'd suggest only a couple of glasses per week, with a meal (perhaps a treat at the weekend).  Too much can have a massive negative impact on health.


5. Move more

Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT for short, includes fidgeting, correcting your posture, and other daily movements, all contribute to extra energy (okay-okay, calorie burning).  So just by tapping you feet at your desk, your still working towards your total energy burnt for the day, it doesn't just have to be 'steps' and your workout.

Add more subtle activity to your day:
  • Take a walking meeting
  • Park further away from the station
  • Get off the bus a stop or two earlier
  • Instead of the lift, take the stairs
  • Cycle to work instead of driving
See guys, it doesn't all have to be hard work in the gym and carrot sticks.

Keep it real


Sunday, April 7, 2019 / Singapore

Slow down to speed up fat loss

Weight loss myths

1: Eat less and exercise more - Oh really I didn't realise it was that simple.
2: It takes will power to lose weight - No, it takes an adjustment in habits. 'Discipline' by its own right is a myth.
3: As long as you count your calories, you'll lose weight - There could be inaccuracies of up to 50%, depending on where you get the information and several other factors that effect the quality (and calories) of a food.
4: Getting an online diet plan will do the trick - It may do for short period of time, but it's more likely to be a generic template, that doesn't factor in your daily lifestyle habits and food likes/dislikes.

That's not to say that these don't work to some degree and for some, but not others.  I just want to illustrate that these are not what you need to do.  I personally don't recommend counting calories for the majority of my clients (unless they have a very specific fat loss goal, in a relatively short period of time).  I want my clients to understand more about food, so that they can make better choices.  Become more physically aware (including recognising hunger cues) and finally, create positive habits or habit adjustments, to make their fat loss goal more rewarding, controlled, sustainable and without it having to be a miserable process.

Holistic approach

I'm not going as far as speaking to your food, to show appreciation (yes that's out there, and there is some science behind it, but pretty flimsy).  I'm not suggesting weird rituals either, I'm talking more about looking at another approach, that gets slightly neglected when busy guys are striving for weight loss success.

Does stress effect weight loss?

YES! The modern daily grind is tough for men let's face it.  We've got a lot going on, compared to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, from thousands of years ago.   Stress has a massive impact not just on our mental (and emotional) state, but also on our physical state, which goes on to impact fat loss.


Your nervous system

To understand how stress has an effect on your metabolism, it's important that you know about the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).   The ANS is subdivided into the your parasympathetic (AKA rest and digest) and the sympathetic (AKA fight or flight) branches.  Think of them as on and off switches.  The PNS turns digestion on and turns the stress off, whilst the SNS turns digestion off, but stress response on.

Lets have a look at some the effects stress has on your body's metabolism*:

  • Decreases Nutrient absorption and deficiencies due to decreased blood flow
  • Increased nutrient excretion - calcium magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and other micronutrients
  • Increased blood cholesterol - The more damaging LDL (low density lipoprotein)
  • Increased blood platelet aggregation - Major risk factor in heart disease
  • Increased levels of cortisol - 'The' stress hormone, associated with abdominal fat storage,  has a catabolising (breaking down) effect on muscle mass and increases ageing.
  • Decreased 'good' gut bacteria - Effecting the immune system, digestion of foods, skin complexion and a variety of digestive disorders
  • Decreased growth hormone - Effects the building and repair of muscle (which will effect training, which obviously helps burn body fat)
  • Increased constipation
  • Increased food sensitivities and allergies - most likely due to a decrease in healthy gut bacteria
  • Decrease in bone density
  • Increase in inflammation - Effecting the brain and heart

How can I decrease the side effects of stress?

Chill out, and here's some easy-peasy ways you can start doing that:
  1. Slow down when you eat. Eat at the same pace of the slowest eater at the table.  Even putting down knife and fork when you taken a mouth full.
  2. Sit up to the table 
  3. Stop eating standing up
  4. If you're at work, get outside or sit in your car
  5. Stopping eating on the go, literally.
  6. Make time to eat and make it a priority in your diary
  7. Eat with friends and family (just watch your portion sizes!)
  8. Eat to 80% full.  If you're having to undo your belt buckle, you've eaten to much
  9. Stop watching the television whilst eating (especially sports, news, dramas and X-factor, as they can create a stress response ((X-factor will just melt your brain anyway))
  10. Pay attention to your food.  Savour the smells, the look, the taste and what it's taken for it actually get to your plate.
A little bit out of the box, but hopefully you can see the bigger picture now.  If you're in a stressed state, it effectively closes down your digestive capabilities and sends your cortisol levels up, developing a host of side effects and mostly importantly, increases abdominal fat storage. 

Keep it real guys


*It's worth knowing that your digestive system is made of smooth muscle.  Muscles of any kind need nutrient flow and oxygen.  When your PNS takes over, there is a decrease of blood flow to the digestive system, as the muscle walls vasoconstrict (become narrower), to allow you to get 'out of danger'-whatever that stress response may be (even mental stress has the same effect).
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