Nothing Beats A Londoner - But London Might Beat You!

Have you seen the new Nike advert?

It's called Nothing Beats A Londoner and it's a great story about young sports stars following their dreams and not letting the Big Bad City get in the way of their dreams.

Nike says nothing beats a Londoner, but I say it can be pretty tough to beat London!

As a proud survivor (and thriver) in one of the busiest, craziest, most fascinating cities in the world, here are some tips on making it here.

Beat Pollution

The World Health Organisation has named air pollution as the world’s largest environmental health risk. In a city nicknamed The Big Smoke, soaring pollution levels are the silent killer nobody is talking about.

Since 2004, the legal limit on harmful emission concentration has ALWAYS been breached within the first week of the year! Londoners are exposed to toxic air on a daily basis which puts you at risk of most major killer diseases.

Pollution is inevitable in large cities like London. Luckily, you can take steps to control the damage. Here are a few easy ways to keep your lungs happy:

  • Get some air-purifying house plants. Boston Ferns remove more indoor air toxins than any other plant. They can be hard to take care of, though, so try palms or rubber plants for a harder to kill option.
  • Drink green tea. Pollution means free radicals. A cup of antioxidant-rich tea helps your body protect itself naturally.
  • Opt for walking. Air pollution is four to five times worse in your car and by driving too much you are contributing to the problem. Switch to walking or public transport.
  • Avoid high pollution routes by using an app. Some of my favourites are CityAir and Plume Air Report. Both are free and user-friendly.

Beat Stress

Normal stress management recommendations aren't really an option in London. Walks in nature, getting a pet, or taking up a new hobby are all awesome stress reducers. But, suggest these things to a Londoner and I guarantee you'll get the same response - Sounds great, but where do I find the TIME for all of that?!

Time is the biggest thing that no one in London ever seems to have enough of, this is why everyone is always in a rush, doesn't have time for a proper conversation and always look pretty stressed!

To reduce stress, a Londoner needs to become a master of the one-minute fix!

Five Strategies To Banish Stress (In Less Than A Minute)

  • Houseplants are a really easy win here. Being surrounded by nature, no matter how tiny, is enormously beneficial and that's backed by science.
  • Eating to make your gut happy will calm down your brain too. Often when we're stressed we eat the wrong foods and end up feeling even worse! There is a gut-brain axis that connects the largest organ of the immune system to the largest one of the nervous system. A healthy snack, eaten slowly, will help both. I recommend bananas because they are nutritious, help good bacteria, and they are very convenient, too. My good friend Hannah Richards at The Gut Clinic can give you a lot more advice on this subject.
  • A quick stress release technique that you can do anywhere is pressing between your second and third knuckle. This activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart to create an instant sense of relaxation. Honestly! Try it.
  • Another one of my favourites is the "tense up-loosen up trick". Start by slowly tensing up your muscles as much as you can. I like to do it with my whole body but just the arms works, too. Then, as you exhale, allow the tension to flow out of your system.
  • Finally, add some dancing into your morning routine. I'm serious. Music boosts endorphins and jumping around the kitchen can burn just as many calories as the treadmill. Even if it's just a couple of minutes, you will notice the effects right away.

Beat Keeping up with the Jones's

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Seriously.

London is a huge city full of successful, talented people. Some will be richer than you. Some will have better careers than you. Some will be better looking than you, deal with it!

It's easy to get caught up in the comparison game but you can never win at this. You may be prepared to sacrifice more and more to hit your next goal, but trying to succeed here could make you feel worse than a failure if you're constantly looking at what you don't have. For me this is one of the biggest reasons why London can beat you. There is so much opportunity, always the next step, the next promotion, the next ten grand to chase, the friend doing a little bit better than you.

Ambition is a great thing and you definitely need it to succeed anywhere, not just London.

But you need to celebrate the small wins along the way as well. Don't start your day looking at what others are doing on Instagram, I guarantee that will bring you down. You need to set yourself up to succeed and you can do this by asking yourself these three simple questions:

  • What did I last eat?
  • When did I last laugh?
  • What's the last conversation I had?

Great nutrition, a positive outlook, and surrounding yourself with amazing people are the three key ingredients to thriving in London. When you stop comparing yourself to others and choose to compare yourself to the person you were yesterday, you get happier. The first step is simply acknowledging and improving your choices.

Beat Overwhelm

When accident and emergency doctors are on call, they may have to rush off at any moment to deal with a life or death situation. A lot of Londoners also tend to live like this! It is so common to see people in a constant reactive state, never able to switch off and stressing over pretty insignificant things. If this is you then you might not even know you're living in this reactive state. Sadly for most of you, the reality is despite what you may think you really aren't that important!

Just ask yourself do you really need to send that email at 11pm? Are people really that impressed that you're in the office at 6am? Is it really essential that you work every weekend? Being "on it" all of the time doesn't lead to success, it leads to burnout, misery and stress.

Give yourself a day off, no one will die - unless you actually are a doctor on call!

Picking The Right Team

This is such an important topic that I will cover this in a separate article, but, in short, nobody succeeds alone. In London, workplace competition can be so fierce that it drives people apart. The caffeine and sugar-fuelled days, the nights where you can't sleep because of the anxiety, the heavy drinking that just gets you through it all, eventually makes you miserable. Having a good support network in place is essential if you are going to beat London.

That's why I have started talking about surviving London with some of my favourite online content creators. We are taking this to a team level. Together, we can finally get people to talk about the elephant in the city. And it all starts with the community.

As a challenge, I dare you to text just one of your colleagues and sincerely compliment them. Surrounding yourself with a team of positive people is the only way of surviving London fully. Start by making yourself one of these amazing people.

Cheers,

David


Raise Your Standards To Transform Your Life

This is the time of year that I particularly enjoy, when things really start to get going for those that are committed -or end for those that are not...

People fall off the wagon in a big way as Dry January ends and they give themselves permission to make up for a number of missed nights out! The fad diet books go back on the shelves to collect dust and the gym floor starts to get a bit quieter.

For those of you that really did have good intentions at the start of this year, take the time to read through this article and I hope it will help you to decide that you're not going to give up on your health and fitness goals just because January is over. Committing to change comes down to one simple rule:

If You Want To Succeed, You Have To Raise Your Standards

We all know that deep down things can be a better for us.

No matter how great you are doing now, you can always do better. Just take a minute to visualise your dream life.  Maybe you want to travel the world. Finally write that book. Get that six-pack. Start a family or improve your relationship with your children.

Now imagine what would happen if that dream turned into your standard.

No more 'I want to feel more energetic.' or 'If only I could work on my music career full-time.' Flip those dreams, those aspirations (that you've probably never really believed could come true) and make them the bare minimum.

Standards Are What Gave You A Roof Over Your Head

When we are young, we learn certain standards about how we should live. They are not always comfortable standards. Show me a single kid that enjoys eating their broccoli or brushing their teeth twice a day, or even doing their homework. But there is a certain standard - you need your veggies, healthy teeth and a decent education to get anywhere in life.

Now, look at your adult life. There are certain standards you never break because you don't allow yourself. No matter how tired you are, you finish the project before the deadline. You stay at your job even when you hate it - it is what pays the rent. And being homeless is below the standards you set for yourself.

When we believe we absolutely must achieve a certain goal, we always do. 

The thing about being an adult is you have to parent yourself. And too often we live according to standards we set decades ago. Yes, not being homeless is good, but living in a penthouse apartment is better. Not letting yourself become morbidly obese is fine, but how about getting stronger each day?

Why You Set The Bar So Low

It wouldn't be realistic to make Buy a penthouse apartment. your basic standard if your previous goal was just having a place to yourself. The margin of difference is too great and you would never accept the former as a true standard. Instead, it would end up in the same place failed New Year's resolutions do.

But it makes you wonder, why don't we choose to live better and strive for more?

One word. Fear.

You are so afraid of failing that you prefer not to try at all. And if you do try, you end up self-sabotaging without even realising it. And yes, we all self-sabotage. Here are a few forms of it that are silently ruining your dreams:

  • Procrastination
  • Busying yourself with minor tasks (I don't have the time is such an easy excuse not to go to the gym.)
  • Binge eating and binge drinking
  • Letting others run your life
  • Becoming invested in causes without taking action (the beloved Facebook activism)

At our core, we don't want to make failure an option and so we push it as far deep into our unconscious as possible. When those unfulfilled hopes come back to haunt us, we say 'Well, at least I have it better than X.'

The Simple Solution For Raising Your Standards

You are not going to like it but it will work.

Simply imagine the worst case scenario. Visualise it, feel it, make yourself believe it already happened. Make failure so well-known that you no longer fear it. Because truth be told, the worst case scenario of failing your fitness goals is not all that dramatic. Yes, you might not change one bit. You might give up because it's too hard. But, to be completely honest with yourself:

You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. 

Now do the opposite. Imagine victory. Taste it, live it, take ownership of it. Make it your absolutely unbreakable standard and remind yourself of it every day. Whether you do it through a vision board, a new phone background, or by surrounding yourself with people who already made it (my personal favourite), the point is to make victory inevitable.

Now that you have overcome your fear of failing, there is really nothing holding you back.

Raising Your Standards In Health And Fitness

Can you define health? Are you healthy? Most people think they are, as long as nothing brings them to their doctor's office.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. (World Health Organisation)

The conventional attitude toward health is a perfect example of low standards at play. If 'not being ill' is your only standard for health, you are missing out on the complete physical, mental and social well-being that you can achieve. Because (once again in the words of the World Health Organisation):

The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

With that in mind, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes and think about what this all means to you. What standards are you setting for yourself and what small actions can you take to raise those standards. I guarantee it will make a huge difference to your success this year!

Cheers,

David