Healthy Living

New Year, New Start – Part II

Posted by on 23-01-2015 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

No pressure Goal setting – How to double the chances of getting what you want  Last week we discussed how many of us would love to lose a bit of weight and get a bit healthier after the festivities. Yet over 90% of the resolutions we make fail, why is this? We get overwhelmed by the goal, trying to change habits of a lifetime (which are stronger and harder to break than we think) We pile the pressure on by setting ourselves unrealistic deadlines (giving up a 30 year smoking habit by next week) There is nothing wrong with trying to change habits that aren’t good for us, as you can imagine I hugely encourage it! The way we go about it however can have a HUGE impact on the chances of success. So I’d like to share with you a method that has helped hundreds of people and doubles the chance of success. Step 1: Change your mind set. However much we want the quick fix, these very rarely work. Gradual changes are much more likely to be longer lasting. I know so many people who have used a quick fix to lose a stone in weight, only to put it back on and more in a couple of months! Do you know anyone who’s done this?! Answer: Work at gradually creating habits, not going for the unsustainable quick fixes  Step 2: So how do we take the pressure off and create habits? With your overall aim in mind, EXAMPLE: drop a dress size, pick two things you’d like to improve by spring that would help with your overall aim EXAMPLE: drink more water, exercise more. Step 3: Measure where you are now in relation to your goal. Unless you measure, you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, and you’ll be in danger of wasting a huge amount of your precious time and effort. Make sure you measure what’s relevant to your goal. Keep it simple, cheap and regular. In the above example, you could pick a certain dress that’s a little snug at the moment and use that as your barometer, note down how many glasses of water you drink per day and how many times you exercise/week. Step 4: Pick an EASILY ACHIEVABLE, SPECIFIC action point you can do TODAY. EXAMPLE: Find that dress you’d like to feel more comfortable in and will use as your barometer, drink a glass of water with breakfast every day, arrange to go for a ten minute walk with a work mate after work on a Monday. Remember, we’re aiming to create habits that don’t create too much of a drastic change to your lifestyle, thus increasing the chance of them lasting. Then every two or three weeks, pick a new daily action point for each goal, EXAMPLE: drink a glass of water with breakfast and dinner. This method creates something dangerously exciting: MOMENTUM! Next week: Exercise, how to start and make it safe, fun and effective....

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New Year, New Start – Part I

Posted by on 15-01-2015 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

New Year, new start? A different look at New Year’s Resolutions and how to kick start the year with results YOU want Welcome back! I hope you all had as blessed a time as possible over the Christmas period. I bet you’re all raring to go back to work and feeling tremendously healthy and fit after the festivities…….. Ok, maybe not totally true. If you’re anything like me, along with the nice family time, Christmas can be a time where we eat and drink a little bit more of everything than usual. As a result, there is a very well known tradition that it so popular; it seems you have to take part even if you have no intention of following them through: New Year’s Resolutions! How many people do you know make New Year’s Resolutions? The funny thing is; how many seem to make the same ones every year?!! Facts: Well over half the population regularly make New Year’s Resolutions  Over 90% of people who make resolutions fail to achieve them  January 21st is statistically when most resolutions are binned.  So why don’t most New Year’s resolutions work?   I have a very good friend, who every January, aims to give up drinking. He always starts so well, but when the first big rugby match comes along (or someone’s birthday) he caves in and seems to make up for lost time! So why does this happen? Firstly, we’ve all been there, I know I have, many times. Most NY resolutions don’t work as they are too overwhelming and we give ourselves unrealistic deadlines. Many don’t realise, we are aiming to change habits of a lifetime, which are very powerful and hardwired into our system. And in the case of my friend, when he drank in moderation, it was the only time he spent time with his friends, so when he took it out of his life without replacing it with anything, he actually became more miserable! So what do we do?   Take the pressure off: Don’t add huge amounts of stress by saying you’re going to change a habit of a lifetime by tomorrow Less hype and more realism: I just really wanted to encourage you today by saying this is a journey that is always best experienced one small step at a time. So over the next few weeks we’re going to provide you with a full, step by step guide on:   How best to set goals that you can easily achieve Explain simple, proven steps on how to get started in all the areas that matter like exercise and healthy eating How to avoid the all too common pitfalls that trip us up again and again. Next week: we’ll go through the process of no-pressure goal setting. I dare you to take up the Alpha...

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Getting rid of belly fat

Posted by on 01-12-2013 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Getting rid of belly fat

GETTING rid of belly fat is one of the most common topics out there. Many of the points listed here you will know, some you may never have thought of and others could just be a nice reminder!     1. Make sure you stay hydrated and reduce toxins by drinking enough water. Increase your intake slowly, ultimately aiming for two to three litres each day. 2. Eat breakfast. Include some kind of protein and very little if any sugary foods. 3.Consider eliminating gluten (which is found in most wheat products like white bread and pasta) which can cause inflammation in the stomach area and joints. 4.If you feel any other foods that cause bloating, take them out of your diet for two weeks and see how you feel. 5.Eliminate all processed foods. These are death and big belly in a shiny packet! 6.Try and get as much fibre as possible. The best sources are from leafy green vegetables and dark fruit (keep the skins on!). 7. Move – You don’t have to be doing strenuous exercise 10 times a week, just aim to be as active as possible and pick activities you enjoy. 8. Choose exercises that use as many muscles as possible over isolation exercises. For example squatting will burn more calories than sit ups. 9. Reduce the amount of sugary foods, which go straight to your hips. 10. Most green foods balance your body’s pH levels, leading to increased energy and decreased body fat. Target as many green vegetables as possible. 11. Ensure you get enough sleep. 12. Manage stress levels. Stress is one of the major causes of health problems and belly fat. Here’s why and a few pointers on how you can combat it. When our stress levels rise our body thinks we’re in for troubling times ahead, if we’re always worrying and stressing our body responds by laying down fat over the vital organs (belly) for protection and fuel reserves. 13. Forgive. Unforgiveness harbours bitterness that if not dealt with can lead to elevated stress levels and many health problems many wouldn’t even imagine is linked to unforgiveness. Make a list of those you need to forgive and do it. Remember, they don’t always have to be there for you to forgive them! 14. Grateful journal: Being aware of what we have and being grateful for it dramatically reduces stress levels. Buy yourself a nice notebook and each night write down three things in your life that you are truly grateful for. 15. Don’t pressure yourself by setting unattainable and unsustainable goals. Remember: Baby steps. As you can see, these are bullet point tips. Visit the website for more in depth info and practical steps on each one. If any of these particularly grab your attention write in to alphastars@alphapw.com and I’ll write an article on your...

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Weight and your Health

Posted by on 09-11-2013 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Weight and your Health

Why weight isn’t an indicator of good health!!!   IF I were to ask you to name one thing you could change if you could about your health, what would you say? The most common answer without doubt is: lose weight. Many people use weight as the main way to judge how well their ”diet” is going, or how healthy they are.   When a friend and I went to France last year we were looking round for somewhere to eat. We passed a cafe with outside furniture that wasn’t exactly appealing, so we passed it by. A few moments later our stomachs were rumbling and realising there was nothing else in the village we decided to give this cafe a try. To our amazement the inside was gorgeous and the food divine. Using weight as the sole measure of health is like us judging that cafe on its outdoor furniture, it is an indicator but doesn’t reveal what’s going on inside and how good it is! How can weight be misleading? Due to the slight increase in muscle that occurs with appropriate exercise you may become a little heavier, but you would also look better, be slimmer, fit into your clothes better, be at a much lower risk of developing disease and have much better energy levels. Also, your body is an amazing complex machine, with many things going on that affect the figure on the scales like time of the month for women, or fluid levels. So why does everyone use it? There are a few reasons: it is relatively inexpensive, quick, easy, used in many medical tests, plus it is all over the TV and magazines which affects our minds more than we know! What would be better to use? What are you actually trying to lose weight for? When you stop and think about it, may be the answer is to fit into a pair of jeans you have, or have more energy, look better in your holiday photos, or be able to walk up the hill without looking like a beetroot?! If these are the real reasons then why not have a go at using these as your indicators? I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in this situation, but I remember I used to be so obsessed with my weight that whatever the figure was in the morning used to determine how I felt for the rest of the day. How ridiculous is that? Letting something that can be quite misleading determine how you feel and treat others? No wonder my sister used to kick me with her Doctor Martens. Measuring your progress is crucial, as it gives you vital information on whether all your hard work is working or needs adjusting, so this week have a go at using one or two of the following ways to measure your progress, have a great week. Tape measure round your middle Take photos of yourself in the mirror A favourite pair of jeans or shirt you can’t quite get into yet How you feel walking up a certain...

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IT’S ALL TOO MUCH!! How to simplify the overwhelming

Posted by on 07-09-2012 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

IT’S ALL TOO MUCH!! How to simplify the overwhelming

With the rise of the internet, millions of TV channels and instant communication available on every device we have, information can fly at us from all angles. With everyone now having a platform to publish their ideas and theories to the world many can appear as experts. Nutrition is a perfect example of this. If you type ‘diet’ into google I dread to think how many results would come up (ok ok, I couldn’t resist, it’s over 568million!) With so many opinions available it is inevitable that there will be some that conflict with each other. For any given diet you could find twenty ‘experts’ saying it’s the best and then twenty ‘experts’ saying it’s deadly! Changing our eating habits is hard enough without people constantly giving you conflicting evidence!! This can lead to information-overload and understandably push people to the limit and quit If you look at every ‘experts’ website, you will see one thing in common, they are usually packed with testimonials of people who have successfully used their method to lose weight. How can this be??? The matter of fact is actually quite simple, everyone is different and everyone responds differently to different approaches, food plans, lifestyle changes, the manner of the expert etc. Especially food, as we all know deep down there are two universal facts: 1) There is no one diet that will work for everyone 2) Quick fix diets that you can’t stick to don’t work! So what on earth do we do!!! Ever had a friend who can seemingly eat whatever they want and not put on a pound?! Then you just look at a slice of bread and put on half a stone?! This backs up point number 1, everyone is different, so everyone will need to eat slightly differently to get the results they want. This obviously applies to other factors like sleep, stress management, exercise etc, everyone’s individual needs are different so THE best way to work out what works for you is to use the following ridiculously simple process: 1) Get clear on exactly what it is you want / why you are doing this! (read http://www.alphapw.com/find-out-what-you-truly-want-then-get-it/ to help with this) 2) Get baseline measurements –> Try protocol A –> Measure again, evaluate protocol A and make adjustments –> repeat, repeat, repeat (Protocol: a specific program, be it exercise, food plan etc) And that’s it. This way, over time, you will learn what works FOR YOU and you will develop a program that gets YOU the results you want Quick Alpha tips: – Measuring something is essential. If we don’t measure we don’t know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve seen it so many times when people are having huge success yet because they haven’t measured anything and have a history of failed attempts they don’t believe they are doing well and the first hurdle causes them to quit. Things to measure could be; use a tape measure and once a week measure hips, waist and belly button to give you a total weekly figure (highly recommended). You could measure training results e.g. the amount of squats you can do in a minute, how you feel when you go for a twenty minute walk/how far you cover etc. Photos are a very good way of evaluating change as...

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Back on track triggers Part II – What works for you?!

Posted by on 20-06-2012 in Wellbeing HQ | 0 comments

Back on track triggers Part II – What works for you?!

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” Ancient Proverb In part I of this article (http://www.alphapw.com/back-on-track-triggers-why-falling-off-the-wagon-is-actually-needed-and-how-to-guarantee-you-get-back-on/) we discussed the challenges faces when undertaking the task of improving ones health and how to actually plan the inevitable…. Falling off the wagon! So what do we do after that superb weekend away, night bingeing in front of the TV or even when your training partner gives up or class is cancelled?! How can you enjoy our treats and KNOW you’ll be back on track the next day? The answer: BACK ON TRACK TRIGGERS! Ever felt unsure about something? It could be a song, the way someone looks, your favourite sports star maybe? Then as soon as you meet up with a few friends that you have similar values to and they start raving about that song or say that person is the best looking person since Tom Jones (ok, bad example!) your mind is a little more convinced. You would have heard me say this many times but it is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received: YOU ARE WHO SURROUNDS YOU. “You are the average of the five people you spend most time with” Jim Rohn Want to learn how to make millions? Who would be better to hang around with Donald Trump or the guy down the job centre? This doesn’t have to mean people either, ever heard a depressing song on the radio that just makes you want to turn the exhaust around and shut the windows?!!! The environment you surround yourself with has more of an impact on you than you can ever imagine. And knowing this gives you tremendous power. If this is true and we are on our hangover day and not feeling like exercise but know we should why not create an environment around us that will make us feel like it? Below are examples of what I call back on track triggers. These are things that you can use to ensure you get back on track or even (and sometimes more importantly) stay on track, because you don’t have to have a big blow out to feel like you’ve gone backwards in your journey, it could be a gentle backslide, for example the odd missed exercise session becomes more regular, one biscuit a day becomes two etc. –           Music: Create a playlist of music that when you listen to it just gets you in a fantastic frame of mind –           Set yourself a target. Enter a race/challenge/event you can’t get out of!! (Maybe tell everyone you’re doing it! This is a fantastic way to ensure you do what is needed. Trying to get into a certain piece of clothing by a set date is also a good one. DO NOT USE WEIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! J –           Have reminders of why you’re doing it in visible places: This could be a photo of when you looked like a whale (and never want to go back to!) or a photo of when you looked great, or even the thought of how the things you want to change would get worse if you don’t do anything about it now!! Think how they would be in five or...

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Back on track triggers! Why falling off the wagon is actually needed and how to guarantee you get back on!

Posted by on 20-06-2012 in Wellbeing HQ | 0 comments

Back on track triggers! Why falling off the wagon is actually needed and how to guarantee you get back on!

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” Ancient Proverb Ever heard the words… “Well I can’t possibly start my diet today I’ve got a wedding on the weekend, I’ll start Monday!” Due to the emotional strain, social pressures and mountains of conflicting evidence out there, getting in shape can be one of the most frustrating and challenging things people face. It is very common to see people who are hugely successful in areas such business, education, raising a family etc to apply the same principles that got them that success (creating a habit/routine, never give up attitude, learning from experts etc) to their health. There are many reasons for this, but two common ones I keep seeing is that when undertaking a healthy regimen people are worried that: 1)    They have to live like a nun, giving up all the things they like, have no fun anymore with their friends and become as fun as a hedgehog in bed 2)     When they do have a blow-out and fall off the wagon (which happens 99% of the time) they will have to start from scratch and face the uphill ‘painful’ journey all over again The human ego doesn’t like admitting to weaknesses (Women you know what I mean here as men are prime examples of this!!) So instead of admitting weakness we just provide statements like the following: ‘I haven’t got time’                               ‘I can’t afford to eat healthily’ ‘I’ll start next week’        and my personal favourite….‘I’ve tried EVERYTHING!!!!’ But if it feels like you constantly have to start all over again after a much needed blow out (which by the way you really enjoyed!!) these feelings of dread at ‘starting over’ are completely understandable. So what I thought I’d do in this two part article is to provide you with a couple of tools that have really helped me and given countless others confidence in their journey. The first is a revelation…….. What if I said that eating the naughty foods you enjoy can actually help you reach your goals???? Ladies and gentleman I introduce: The Cheat Day I cannot speak for you all but as a guy who used to have worse self-control than my mother during a Sean Connery film I know how hard it is to stick to a healthy eating plan when temptations are around. Have you ever found that when on holiday, at a meal with friends, after a stressful period in work or even just an evening in front of the telly there’s more chance of Hugh Hefner controlling himself at the women’s beach volleyball championships than to control ourselves with food and drink   So if we know this is going to happen, if we know that at some point we are going to ‘fall off the wagon’ why not plan for it and work out ways that work time and time again to get us back on track without too much damage caused? The cheat day principle basically states that if you eat foods conducive to your goals for 6 days of the week on the seventh day you can eat a few foods that you enjoy but aren’t so good for the...

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Time for a bit of self-recognition!

Posted by on 06-03-2012 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Time for a bit of self-recognition!

Ever had a party or an event that was specifically arranged just for you? Take a moment now and remember your favourite ever birthday party, a dinner arranged by your partner or even a celebration you had as part of a team after you achieved something together? How did it feel?! If you went up to your friends and asked them “How many things have you achieved this week that you’re really proud of?” How many things do you think they could come up with on the spot there and then? One? Two? Maybe three? Could it be true that we don’t celebrate our achievements enough? When was the last time your boss or someone you work with pulled you out to say how proud they were of you and what a good job you were doing? Don’t you find it can be so easy to not realise how well you are doing at something or how many things you are achieving when you are in the middle of it?! So today we’re going to have a little bit of fun, I want you to create an ‘Achievement List!’ This is where you get a blank page, you could use the back of your Alpha Journal or a really nice notebook or anything you want and I want you to start listing the achievements you’ve made since starting this amazing journey of improving your health.   WhenI first mention this to people I generally get two reactions “Huh……….!” (followed by a face that looks as if the pope has just walked in with Britney Spears) or “But I haven’t achieved anything yet!”. And the answer to both (well, not sure about the pope)  is YOU HAVE ACHIEVED MORE THAN YOU REALISE AND MORE IMPORTANTLY LAID THE FOUNDATIONS FOR MORE THAN YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE. The things you do influence the people you come across more than you know. This list can contain absolutely anything you feel has improved your life. It doesn’t have to be just the stereotypical things that are associated with leading a healthy lifestyle i.e. weight, clothes etc. Yes of course it can be those things, but it could also be things like you can now walk up the stairs without getting out of breath, you may have learned something that will help your kids, you have less pain in your back so don’t feel so old when getting out of bed in the mornings, you can walk into a room without worrying what everyone else thinks, you can go into a shop and pick clothes because you like them not because they will cover you up! It can be absolutely anything!! This is very similar to The Grateful Log. We can be so self-deprecating sometimes that I believe we should use every tool we have to promote ourselves and help us realise how well we’re doing and how much fun it really is! Could it be true that if we only focus on the goal and associate our happiness to that (i.e. I will only be happy when I lose half a stone!) that we will always be chasing and never be content and happy with where we are and what we have. Yes have goals and work towards them but why not enjoy the...

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Burn fat while you sleep. Are you sure?

Posted by on 13-09-2011 in Sleeping | 0 comments

Burn fat while you sleep. Are you sure?

Give yourself the gift of a good night’s sleep Have you ever had the pipe dream of becoming a psychic? You have?! Well today my friend is your lucky day, I have a foolproof starter question that you can use and predict “YES” as the answer nearly every single time. And the question is: “Do you feel tired in the mornings?!” Simple eh! Only messing, but lack of quality sleep is such a widespread issue amongst people these days that you can almost guarantee it as an area to address when things go wrong. As I’m sure you’re well aware sleep is one of the few things that we cannot survive without, even a slight reduction in the amount and quality can have drastic effects (if you’ve had children you know this more than most!) So let’s take a brief look at why it is so important. Our bodies follow many rhythms or cycles. Examples of these are: – Annual cycles, which include the 4 seasons and the monthly – Lunar cycle (which many of you women will know all about due to its affect on menstruation). There is also the daily circadian cycle, or you may know it better as the sleep-wake cycle. The term “circadian” comes from the Latin circa, “around”, and Diem or dies, “day”, meaning literally “approximately one day”. When we are in tune with the circadian cycle our bodies follow the patterns of the sun. In a nutshell, as the sun rises (~6am) and creates light in the morning so our activity levels also rise, reaching a peak of activity around mid-morning to noon, then gradually decreasing as the sun sets and darkness increases encouraging winding down (~6pm-10pm) in preparation for sleep (~10pm-6am). There are a whole host of hormones that help with this process. As we rise in the morning the stress hormone cortisol along with the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin rise to help us carry out our activities, these then fall as the day goes on allowing the ‘sleepy hormone’ melatonin and other growth & repair hormones to rise as illustrated in figure 1. The Sleep/Wake Cycle Figure 1: Natural sleep/wake cycle. Many of our hormones are produced in tune with the cycle of the sun. Stress/activating hormones are produced as the sun rises and peaks around mid-morning. As the day progresses, the levels of the stress hormones decrease. The body then begins to increases production of growth and repair hormones as the sun goes down. Our bodies are designed to wind down from sunset till about 10 pm when sleep and physical repair should begin. Psychogenic repair takes place predominantly from about 2 am to 6 am. Unfortunately though, for many of us a typical day for many involves elevated levels stress levels, resulting in increased levels of the stress hormones throughout the day, resulting in decreased levels of growth and repair hormones. Although a healthy body can bounce back from intermittent circadian stresses, chronic (long-term) circadian stress often leads to depressed immunity, illness and chronic fatigue. So when our bodies follow the patterns of the sun our sleep quality improves drastically. After a busy day working, digesting, playing, basically changing the world our bodies need a break. Sleep provides the ideal opportunity for the essential rest & repair to take...

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3 quick and simple ways to naturally increase testosterone

Posted by on 30-07-2011 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

3 quick and simple ways to naturally increase testosterone

The only thing that is keeping up with the rate at which the quality of todays diet is plummeting is the concurrent increase in disease and obesity. We are eating things (I hesitate to use the word food!) these days which our bodies are not designed to deal with, especially in the quantities and ratios that we do. A common result of these ‘foods’ is an imbalance in our hormones. Hormones are very powerful substances within the body which control many different processes and can have a big impact on our body composition, our mood (women: no need for explaination here!) amongst many othere things. This has lead to a surge in diseases that weren’t all that common even just decades ago (ask your gran if every other man had ‘moobs’ back in the 40’s?!). One of the hormones that has been impacted and is very important not only to male health but women as well is testosterone. Many of you may know testosterone for its important role in reproduction, but it also has crucial roles in muscle and bone development (so very important for osteoporosis). Here are 3 quick areas you can address naturally to help boost levels: Sleep: – Growth hormone (potent fat burning and testosterone peaking hormone) peaks around 10pm. So the closer to 10pm you get to bed the bigger impact it has. – Make your bedroom like a cave. Any kind of light (even the red standby light on your TV) can make your body think it is time to get up, therefore hindering your sleep quality. The darker the better and with as little electrical devices switched on as possible. Exercise: – Use exercises that use big muscle groups (squats, deadlifts, pull ups etc) in a superset/circuit training fashion with small rest periods (less than 60seconds). Get someone who knows what they are talking about to design you a program. Balance your fat intake: – Increase omega 3 intake (high quality fish oil, wild meats: venison, boar, cold water fish etc) – Reduce trans-fats intake (check for the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated oils on food labels) – Aim to increase intake of grass-fed cattle and decrease commercially fed animals/fish as these are a lot higher in omega 3’s. – Start your day with a good quality high protein breakfast. Combine with leafy green vegetables to help with digestion and all the fantastic nutrients they possess. Eat as much of these as you like (eggs are also a great source)! Having these foods instead of the usual grains, cereals, sugars, processed dairy and soy-based products will reduce the allergic reactions going on in your body giving your body the nutrients it needs helping to improve testosterone levels and body composition. – Eat foods as close to their natural state as you can. Locally sourced and organic where possible. When we give our body what it needs not only does it give it the building blocks for hormones, tissues etc it reduces the amount of stress on the body. Wouldn’t you be stressed if you weren’t given the right tools for a job you had to complete by tomorrow?!! When we are stressed our body releases a hormone called cortisol, which if we are exposed to long term can really hamper our ability to burn...

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