De- Clutter your life and make space for you!

De-cluttering your life or your environment such as your home or office space is the new biggest trend. De-cluttering or simplifying your environment is said to help you feel more calm controlled, and if we’re talking about work space more energised and focused.

There are many ways you could go about de-cluttering, my advice would be to complete short and simple tasks over a few weeks so you don’t become overwhelmed.

The whole purpose of our 30 day programme is to get you great results and this only happens if  you have set yourself up to succeed. If your life is in a bit of a mess, then adding more to your plate is just setting you up to fail. A great rule going forwards now is don’t start a task unless you have time to complete it.

So how do you start the process of de-cluttering and set yourself up for success?

Below are five suggestions to get things started…

  1. Chuck out those Just in case items!

We’ve all got those “just in case items” whether its and outfit in your wardrobe that you’ve been trying to convince yourself will be fashionable again one day! Or the draw full of old mobile phone chargers. Get rid of them!

There’s a great saying that clutter is just indecision, make a clear decision to either keep it or get rid of it – On a positive note, that old outfit may make someone else very happy and there are plenty of online companies willing to pay for old mobile phones.

 

2. The 30 day Box Test

This is a popular and simple de-cluttering task, you place all your kitchen or office items into a cardboard box. When you’ve used an item, you place it back in the draw where it lives. Anything left in the box at the end of 30 days will be the things that you don’t really need and should be included in your trip to the local charity shop.

3. A box A Week – A Room A week

Think of the key living areas of your home. This task is designed for by the end of the 4 weeks for not only help you feel clutter free but for others to notice your home is more clutter free. Do you have too many books piled up on your bookcase that you can’t actually see what books you have. Leave a box in a room of choice for a week, when you have 10 free minutes add items you no longer use. At the end of each week move on to a different room and continue the task until you have de-cluttered all of your living spaces.

4. The six month Hanger test

This de-cluttering task lasts longer than the 30 day challenge, but I guarantee it will reduce the stress of getting dressed. Now nicknamed the Oprah Winfrey hanger experiment as she gave fame to the de-cluttering wardrobe task. You start by hanging all pieces on your hanger in the reverse direction. Once you’ve warn an item you place it onto the hanger in the correct direction. After 6 months you’ll have a good understanding of what you wear and what you don’t. – Donate the unworn close to charity.

5. De-clutter your digital world

There are endless books and blogs claiming we all need less screen time more me time, and if we were to be honest with ourselves, we would probably all agree. It’s so easy to become distracted by phone notifications or an email pop up on our computer. Whether its work or in everyday life, the digital world is all consuming and we should all try and be conscious users.

The simplest task of all, which you could easily complete whilst reading this article is to turn off all social media notifications. This allows you to be a conscious user and participator of social media instead of being distracted during your run or workout.

Whilst we are on the subject of social media, who do you follow? Who do you like? I’m sure you have a few people that comes up in your feed that immediately affect your mood or simply don’t inspire you? Get rid of them! I de-clutter my social media every few months and it’s a good feeling. If you don’t want to delete them, just stop seeing their posts, I guarantee you’ll feel better for it. Don’t be a sheep – follow people who inspire you and make you feel more focused and creative.

I’m not telling you to go cold turkey on social media or screens, just be a conscious user and spend less time scrolling through news feeds and more time focusing on your true goals.

Clutter creeps up on us all be it real life items or digital overloads. Don’t spend time inventing ways to keep something for the sake of not making a decision. When we lead a less confused and simpler lifestyle we can focus on experiences and goals we want to achieve.

 

Try just one or maybe even all of the suggestions above for just 30 days and I guarantee you will feel better for it!


How do you look after a £100million athlete?

Over the next four weeks we will witness the best players on the planet showcase their skills in pursuit of the ultimate prize any footballer can achieve – to win the World Cup.

As fans of our national teams we like to think that players are giving their all for Queen and country and while the majority of players will see this as the pinnacle of their career to represent their national side in a World Cup, others will see it as an opportunity to put themselves in the biggest possible shop window in order to gain a big money move to the promised land of the Premier League where the pitches are literally paved with gold.

Inevitably we will see a number of the big boys exit at the early stages and whilst excuses will range from arguments in the ranks, refereeing of even Virtual Assistant Refereeing decisions, to bad management or even noisy hotels! I’m pretty confident that the consistent excuse that we hear at every major tournament will appear at some stage – “the players were simply too tired.”

Whatever your thoughts on Premier League footballers, (or players from any other league in the world for that matter), the morality of their wage packets, their level of intelligence or the annoyance of their “WAGS”, you can’t get away from the fact that the world simply loves the beautiful game. Fans want to see more and more league, cup, international and even friendly games played each season, surely this takes its toll on the players required to perform at the highest level in each fixture?

But what is the reality of the situation? Is tiredness a justified excuse? Are we asking too much of players these days and how do we look after them in the best possible way? Here’s my take on things from a human performance perspective…

Dealing with injuries

The fact is that of the 23 members of each nations playing squad, every single player will have had some form of injury of varying degrees, during this past season. Whilst those players would have received incredible care from the best team doctors and sports science support team at their clubs, ultimately the decision to return would be on the player and although all top players can still perform at 80 or 90% of their capacity, consistently asking their bodies to deliver when they are not 100% fit will inevitably lead to long-term issues.

You hear stories of the old school centre halves that would take pain killing injections at half time to get them through the next 45 minutes or just man up and get on with it! But we take a more sensible approach to sports medicine these days and look after the welfare of the players first and foremost, meaning that these type of things simply can’t go on nowadays.

Life moves on and football has moved on at a rapid rate. The evolution of sports science and the evolution of the game itself has drastically changed even in the last few years. The role of the full-back has drastically changed from the guy that just needed to hoof it up the touch line, into a much more skilful attacking player that arguably runs the game from an attacking and defensive perspective. These guys require the upper body strength to hold off other opposing players, the cardiovascular fitness to run over 10km each game, the speed to sprint up and down the touchline and the skill to take on defenders and deliver pinpoint crosses.

But even these highly conditioned athletes will have their weaknesses, typically most players are very one sided which will immediately causes potential imbalances and weaknesses. Coaches and sports scientists are very aware of what they term “functional dysfunction” they just need to address to these imbalances in a structured manner before they potentially lead to injury.

Technology

The fact is we now have the technology to monitor top athletes in so many ways around the clock, we can see how much they’ve moved, how hard they’ve trained, the quality and quantity of the  recovery and sleep they’ve had, we are aware of their personality type and how they need to be managed. We know their stress levels and how they manage it (or don’t). We can monitor how they walk, talk, eat, sleep and breathe, and we have the ability to control so many aspects of their human performance.

Dave Brailsford the former performance director of British Cycling termed this approach “marginal gains” and the advancement in sports science over the last ten years or so has meant that these marginal gains within any sport have enabled a huge impact on the overall analysis and performance of each individual and team.

But, and it’s a very big BUT, we need to realise that these are young men and not machines and sometimes things don’t quite go to plan!

 

How well do you think you would perform with a relatively simple task in your day to day work life if you had over a billion people watching you doing it?!

 

Fail To Succeed

How you deal with pressure and how you respond when things go wrong is, in my opinion what defines you as a potential £100 million pound athlete.

Every single player that has been selected to represent their country in Russia this summer is the best player in their position at their club, they were the best player in the youth team they graduated from and they were head and shoulders above every other kid in the playground at school. When it comes to football, all these player have ever known is how to deal with success!

The real test is when things go wrong.

The average player falls away, but the star performer just gets better.

When David Beckham was sent off for England in France ’98 some thought his England career was over. Instead it ended up being the making of him, the following year he won everything with Manchester United and single handily dragged England through to the 2002 World Cup and in the process became a phenomenal captain and leader.

So what separates the superstars from the nearly men?

In my opinion elite human performance comes down to four areas:

Fitness, Nutrition, Recovery and Mind Set.

 

Fitness - Everyone knows that fitness is a vital component to any athlete’s makeup. Physical fitness and freedom from injury allow a player to compete at the highest level for the longest period of time, but this in my opinion is bottom of the pile when it comes to determining performance, it just gets you entry to play with the big boys.

Nutrition isn’t just about having six pack abs. Good Nutrition will give you a positive outlook, it will turbo charge your energy levels, it will improve your alertness and productivity and can even speed up your recovery from injury. Gone are the days when a typical player’s diet would consist of a pre-match fry up followed by some post-match beers! I’m sure a number of players out there still do this from time to time, but I guarantee they’ll never become a £100 million pound athlete with a Sunday League players diet. If you’re after marginal gains then first stop is the fuel you are putting in your engine.

Recovery is the toughest one to manage. Every player just wants to play and the biggest mistake many of them make is rushing back before they are fully recovered. Top players have amazing coaches, therapists and doctors at their beck and call to safely manage their return from injury. Everything from physiotherapy to cryotherapy, soft tissue work to fitness testing is covered. The problem isn’t when they are at their clubs, the issue is what do they do when they are at home?

A £100 million pound athlete will do everything required to get them back to their best. They will have their own recovery routine, wrap themselves in cotton wool and prioritise a good night’s sleep over a big night out every time.

For high performance I cannot emphasise the importance of sleep enough. It’s no coincidence that Roger Federer and LeBron James who are arguably performing better than ever in twilight of their respective careers swear by 12 hours sleep each night. It doesn’t sell newspapers hearing a footballer is tucked up in bed at 9pm, but it definitely ensures that the player makes headlines on the back pages and not the front pages!

Mind set – This is without doubt the key ingredient to building a £100 million pound athlete.

Forget about success, If you want to look after a £100 million athlete them teach them how to fail big time at a young age!

Throughout their career players will be faced with any number of challenges, from injury, humiliating defeat, falling out of favour with the manager, to transferring to a new country and managing personal issues. Problems will always arise and the bigger the problem, the bigger the potential reward. The truth is in football and in life it's never about the problem, it just comes down to how you deal with it. An average player will just see the problem and it will always hinder their progress, the top player will simply see each problem as another small hurdle along their journey to becoming a superstar!

Get all four of these ingredients in place in a manner that works for that individual player and success is guaranteed.

 

**Food for thought, at the last World Cup in Brazil, then 22 year old Mario Goetze famously scored the winning goal that saw Germany lift the trophy. Four years later and arguably at what should be the peak of his career Goetze didn’t make the squad for this years tournament. We all want to see the star players perform and I'm sure the winning goalscorer will again be the lasting memory of this tournament in four weeks time. But just keep an eye on the spectacular failures, it may just be the making of a new £100million athlete!

Enjoy the World Cup

David Osgathorp


Workout partners

It Takes Teamwork To Make The Dream Work

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In my opinion, Nobody is truly independent. 

Think of your biggest accomplishments. I am sure you worked incredibly hard to achieve them, but if you take a moment to reflect, I can guarantee you wouldn't have achieved these things without the help of someone else. Even the most egotistical actor doesn’t goes up on stage at the Oscars to say "Yes, thank you, I’m amazing!". Winners know that without their team, they wouldn’t be up on the stage.

Embrace Dependence

There is no denying that we are more disconnected than ever. We’re constantly engaged in social media but we’re lacking the skills to actually socialise. We pursue likes on our posts but shy away from actual heart-to-heart conversations, we have the ability to reach out to millions of people on the Internet and yet some people feel more alone than ever!

Humans are still social animals, it’s through teamwork, not through a single man's struggle that most great achievements came about. Whether your goal is curing cancer or building a leaner, healthier body, nothing can beat having a great team behind you to allow you to achieve it.

Why We All Need Leaders

To put it in the words of John C Maxwell (the author of one of my favourite books on leadership:)

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.

Whatever your goal may be, we all benefit from having someone show you . In your career, that would be a mentor. At home, it's your wiser parents or grandparents who give the best relationship/marriage advice and in fitness, it's a coach.

Without over-glorifying the role of a personal trainer, having a friendly and knowledgeable person to show you the way is a definite advantage. The whole point of choosing a great coach to be on your team is to save you time and effort to help achieve the best results in the most painless way possible.

You Are Who You're With

But hey, who says choosing a leader needs to imply hiring someone?

I am a big believer in small-scale leadership and learning from your friends and loved ones. Look around your friends and colleagues right now. Every single person around you can teach you something. If you are alone, are there books? Books are  a great way to improve yourself through another human's knowledge and experience. No books? Well, there's always the Internet. There are thousands of amazing, inspiring people online that you can choose to spend time with.

One thing we all realise a little too late is that you are your tribe. You become the people that you invest time and energy in. It's a scary thought if you're not surrounded by happy and successful people. But here is the deal:

You have the choice. 

Seriously, you do. I know it's scary to have to eat alone at work. It's uncomfortable to fall apart with friends. It is downright heartbreaking to end things with a partner. The truth of the matter is, though, that sometimes pain and discomfort are necessary. Much like ripping a Band-Aid, removing negative people from your life is unpleasant but awfully necessary. I have gone through this process a number of times. Removing people from my business that were too negative, breaking away from friendship groups that were draining the life out of me and walking away from relationships that were taking so much more than they were giving.

How I Surround Myself With More Positive Humans

It's the same approach I recommend with junk food. Rather than removing things, start by adding healthy nutrients. Once you're filling up on nutritious food, the unhealthy things naturally just fall away.

Whenever I notice that I have been spending too much time with negative people, I take time in my day to invest in the fun, exciting, inspiring ones. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Read a book by an author you admire.
  • Text an old friend to check up on them.
  • Go to a lecture or a workshop-style event on a topic you're interested in (the people who speak at these are incredible 10 out of 10 times)
  • Take your lunch break with your most smiley, enthusiastic colleague.

Keep doing that and as you spend more time with amazing people, you will notice how you get more inspired and productive yourself.

Your Gym Buddy Matters

Workout partners

I did a full article on workout partners because they can truly make or break your fitness journey. The most shocking thing there?

Obesity is contagious. 

That's what Harvard scientists discovered when researching health patterns among adults. Thankfully, the reverse is just as true. Spend time with people who treat their bodies right and you will likely get healthy without even realising.

It isn't always easy to find people like that. If you're a Londoner, you know how busy people get around here. Fitness and nutrition are an after-thought for most. It doesn't mean they are not exciting and positive people that will not contribute to your personal growth. It only means that in terms of health habits, you will not always find positive peer pressure in the people around you.

So what can you do?

Find The Diamond

While most people aren't bothered about their physical health, there is the occasional happy-go-lucky diamond that will encourage you to care. These people are rare but if you find one, hold on to them for dear life. You might think you want friends who can say Screw it, let's get doughnuts, yet it doesn't hurt to also have someone who says I've signed us up to a Tough Mudder event next weekend. You can decide if that's a good friend or not!

And if you are struggling to find the diamond among your friends, why not consider coaching. Along with motivation and positive reinforcement, a personal trainer has plenty of knowledge and experience to share.

Psst! If you want me, I'm not available!

It's the beginning of the year and I'm booked up with my London projects and work at Red Bull Racing, BUT, I would like to invite you to check out the new online coaching programme I have created. Spoiler alert: it is the same value and effort on my part but you can access it from wherever you are in the world!

You'll get my expert fitness and nutrition knowledge - and more importantly a positive and friendly influence to ensure that you achieve your goals and leave a positive mark on those around you!

If you're interested then you can find me in the comments below!

Cheers,

David

 

 


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

 


Comfort zone challenge woman reflecting

Comfort Zone Challenge: New Year's Resolutions Reimagined

I've deliberately kept quiet over the past few weeks, although New Year is the busiest time of the year for the health and fitness industry and most people in my industry are jumping on the band wagon, I try to avoid all of the New year, New You noise!

The reality is that around 80% of people will give up on their New Year's resolutions at some point this year, and sadly, the majority of those have already made that call by now!

Why does this happen? What changes in a few short weeks that means your big health and fitness goals for the year ahead are so easily swept aside?

Often it comes down to the goals either being too big, not specific enough or simply too difficult. We often set goals to achieve things that we've never done. The reality of running a marathon when you haven't jogged more than five kilometres will hit you hard. Completely giving up alcohol when social drinking is a huge part of your life will become incredibly challenging and getting back to the ideal weight that you last hit over ten years ago is going to be a huge challenge.

I see it so often and I never want to be the guy that says I knew you could never do that. My job as a coach is to ensure that you WIN! So first step - don't set yourself up to fail!

It is my belief to succeed in anything you need two things:

A clear and achievable plan

And the willingness to try something new.

That's why I don't want you to set any New Year resolutions, I just want you to be willing to step out of your comfort zone to help you achieve health, wealth, and happiness in 2018!

 

What Is The Comfort Zone Challenge?

I'm sure you've been there in the past when you had great intentions of making big changes to some area of you life?... I'm fortunate enough to work with some very successful and inspiring people and guess what? They break their resolutions too! It doesn't mean you lack willpower, it's just that most New Year's Resolutions are simply way too overwhelming.

Instead, I encourage my clients to take the comfort zone challenge. Look at one or two aspects of your life and aim to step just slightly out of your comfort zone. As the saying goes, The sooner you step out of your comfort zone, the sooner you realise it wasn't all that comfortable!

With small changes that challenge you out of your old habits, I guarantee you'll find success in your long-term goals, too.

Fitness Habits That Actually Stick

As a coach, most of my job is motivation. You would think a great workout programme matters more. The truth is, even an average quality programme will get results if you are working with a highly motivated client, but it doesn't work the other way round.

So here is what I have learned from over a decade of working with busy, not overly athletic (but still awesomely motivated) people:

You have to make the comfort zone challenge stick. 

Stop pushing your body, and you will stop seeing results. A fitness journey is never really over, you have to constantly strive for more. Sounds daunting? It doesn't have to be.

No matter where you are right now, here are five simple, actionable challenges to push you out of the comfort zone:

  • Don't stop when it gets hard! As Mohammed Ali famously said "I only start counting reps when it starts hurting because they're the only ones that count."
  • Sign up for a fitness event. A hiking holiday. Yoga in the park. It doesn't matter. Just try something new.
  • Create a kickass fitness playlist. Music that gets you excited to get moving.
  • Do 5 minutes of exercise and drink a pint of water as soon as you rise. It's hard to have a bad morning when you start it so well!
  • Get a workout partner. It doesn't matter if it's a friend, your partner, or even a pet (a puppy will do an amazing job of getting you up and running around the park every morning), just encourage each other to keep going.

Nutrition: Because Abs Are Made In The Kitchen

Healthy comfort zone challenge food

I've said it many times before but you simply can't out-train a bad diet.

You don't have to go from burger and fries every night to raw vegan or paleo because I guarantee you will fail  but how about  adding 'stop doing fad diets' to your comfort zone challenge?

Aim for moderation, instead of extremes. Commit to making at least two or three nutritious homemade meals every week. Or (I might be biased here), try my one-month healthy meal plan. It is straightforward, easy to follow, and it will give you a kick in the right direction (we all need that in the beginning of the new year, right?).

If you are just too busy for both, and need someone to take care of this all for you then why not start training your taste buds to love healthy food through a meal delivery service. I have been trying out the Mindful Chef meals recently and I recommend them to clients all the time. They bring you delicious, restaurant-quality meals and they have options for all dietary restrictions you might have.

Recovery: That Is When Change Happens

Fit woman sitting

Muscles don't grow at the gym, this happens while you sleep! If you ignore recovery time altogether then you stress out your system and end up feeling and looking worse than before. Most people don't even think about recovery when setting their health goals. More is better right? WRONG!

Your first comfort zone challenge in this aspect is to actively think about recovery.

I won't be the first to tell you this but meditation will help a lot in this. And I am not asking you to spend an hour in complete silence every day. You can start by a couple of minutes every night. Meditation silences your busy mind and it helps immensely with focus.

For beginners, I definitely recommend you take a meditation course to build a strong and consistent practice. My personal favourite is the Live and Dare Meditation course. It is perfect for complete beginners, as well as those who have tried meditation before but it never really stuck. In five weeks, you will develop the right technique and build the habit to make meditation work for you.

The Comfort Zone Challenge: Beyond Health

Celebrate ditching your New Years resolutions! You didn't REALLY want to pursue them anyway!

Just get comfortable with being uncomfortable as much as you can and see what exciting improvements come your way in 2018.

Let me know how you get on...

 

David


Your Ultimate End Of Season Review: Achieving Balance And Happiness The Easy Way

As some of you may know, I also work as the Human Performance Coach at Red Bull Racing Formula One Team.

It's an incredibly and highly rewarding experience but now that the season is over, I use this time to step back and evaluate how everything has gone for me in 2017...

Even if you are not involved in Formula One, the end of the year is fast approaching and maybe it's time to look at how it's gone for you?...

We all have New Year's Resolutions, but very few of us have end of year assessments which is a shame - as most people stick to their resolutions for an average of two weeks!

While this might be good news for the fitness industry that makes huge profits from the thousands of unused gym memberships, for the majority of people, New Year's resolutions end up being pretty much useless!

So, instead of starting that list of New Year's Resolutions for 2018, I invite you to join my end of season reflection.

How was 2017 for you?

What are you most proud of?

What was your biggest achievement?

What did your achievements cost you?

Where did most of your energy go?

This isn't just about patting yourself on the back! It gives you an understanding of what went well and what areas you need to improve upon in order to create a strategy of dynamic goals and resolutions so that 2018 can be even better!

Why Balance Is More Important Than Hard Work

Here is a piece of wisdom I learnt the hard way. You can't shut down the stress and anxiety by doing more work. Success at the cost of happiness is no success at all.

Over the years, I have heard all sorts of answers to 'What did your achievements cost you? ' Some of them are actually pretty shocking. Spending an outrageous amount of time at the office. Hardly seeing your family for months at a time. Sacrificing relationships. Sacrificing health. Sacrificing sanity!

I've been there before and seen it far too many times with clients that I've worked with and in order to change things for them and myself you need to first of all recognise where things are out of balance.

This is always the most difficult part, but I've found a little tool I refer to as my Wheel Of Life is a great starting point.

A Practical Way To Assess Balance

Most people are visual creatures. The wheel is a way for me to show my clients what their life balance looks like and it requires that you rate the quality of various aspects of your life. I have divided them as follows:

1. Career & Business
2. Finance
3. Personal Growth
4. Health
5. Family
6. Relationships
7. Social Life
8. Attitude

I find this covers most areas for most people, but you may want to personalise it more to your own life!

Fill Out The Wheel

I encourage clients to start with a little bit of reflection. What would my life look like if I had this aspect perfectly under control? For diet, that might look like home cooking most of your meals, making healthy choices when eating out, feeling energised, physically healthy and well-nourished.
Then, on a scale from 1 to 10, decide if you are pretty close to that or a long way from that perfect state!

Another way to complete the wheel is to think about your average day. How much of your time and energy goes into each aspect? Yes, worrying about it counts, too. Turn that into points on the 1 to 10 scale.

The idea is that you go through each aspect of your life and rate where you currently are in each area against where you would like to be. Some areas may be great for you while others may be causing you a number of problems. Most likely, each area will need a little bit of work.

Will The Wheel Roll?

Once you've completed the exercise, take a look at your wheel. Is it balanced? Is there any aspect that has significantly higher or fewer points than the others? In other words, if it were a real wheel, will it roll or will the weight of that one or more aspects stop the movement?

Now you know what to work on!

Turning The Wheel Into Actual Happiness

One of my favourite quotes goes:

"My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada."

It's by Ellen DeGeneres and it perfectly sums up my thoughts on contentment. Life will not always be perfect. You will have times where work overwhelms you. Where you neglect your health. Where your family consumes most of your time and where things just don't quite go to plan.

The point is there will always be tough times in life you can't avoid this, but you can get yourself in the best place to enjoy the highs and roll with the lows.

Do this exercise and then take the time to review it.

The next bit is to decide what you can do about it...

Note the areas that are lacking and commit to dedicating more time and effort to them. I personally like to list 3 practical things that would improve that aspect of my life. I know there might be days where I don't find the time or energy to do them but each week I try to revisit my wheel and and just check in on how I am balancing things out.

Your Thoughts

The reality is, time passes whether you decide to do anything about it or not!
If you're reading this blog then it's my guess that you'd like to do something to improve the health and fitness aspects of your life and maybe a few others.

I hope this post has at least made you think about assessing things and stepping into next year with a plan that will actually work for you.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,

David


I'm still standing - health benefits of standing vs sitting

We all know sitting is bad for you and that the benefits of standing are many. But what does your typical day look like? 8 hours of work? At a desk? Then head to the sofa to relax in front of Netflix? Even if you've managed to squeeze in a gym session, that's a lot of sitting in one day.

Yes, it is as detrimental to your health as it sounds. Our sedentary lifestyle could even be slowly killing us! Here are five benefits of standing up once in a while. Each comes with an easy strategy that will help you take action without having to assemble one of those weird adjustable standing desks in your office.

Woman looking in mirror
Standing instead of sitting promotes fat loss

Weight Loss

Most people interact with this blog would love to lose a few pounds. Here is the simplest recommendation – sit less. Your entire body works to maintain your posture when you are standing. The leg and hip muscles are engaged, the back muscles strengthen, your abs contract to keep you from hunching. The main thing to focus on is keeping your abs tense and your shoulders back.

Obviously, the "stand up" workout will not burn hundreds of calories. Over time, though, they will add up - everything counts. What's more, your balance and range of motion will improve. So will your posture.

A simple way to stand more is to go out for a walk after dinner, instead of retiring to the sofa. A long stroll around your neighbourhood is a wonderful way to reflect on the day. A relaxing walk away from your TV or laptop is the perfect opportunity to get some much needed time to yourself, instead of the distractions of an LED screen. It'll also help you sleep more soundly.

Improved Posture

Your body posture is one of the key non-verbal cues you give out to the world.

Fit and confident women stand tall and lengthen their stride. Their shoulders are straight and relaxed. They look up and project optimism and power.

Stressed and overwhelmed people hunch, they lift their shoulders, they collapse over their heels.

 If you have great posture you look much slimmer and definitely more attractive. Unfortunately, juggling the demands of work, life, and family does not leave a lot of time to think about posture. Spending hours on end in your chair is not much help either.

What does help, is taking short stand up breaks.

At work, every once in a while stand up, walk around, go to the bathroom, go and talk to your colleague instead of sending an email etc. When you spend some time standing up, your core and leg muscles will tighten. Even if you sit back down for another 30 minutes you will be more mindful of your posture.

Over time, this helps you build the muscle foundation for a confidence.

Your Internal Organs Work Better

Internal organs align
Standing aligns your intermal organs

Humans are not designed for prolonged periods of sitting. The 9-5 office job is a fairly new invention. Your body is an amazing machine but you are not using it correctly if you spend a long period of time sitting.

When you sit, your blood moves more slowly. It brings less oxygen to the brain and cognition becomes sub-optimal. In extreme cases, the lack of movement puts you at a higher risk of developing a blood clot. Women who are sedentary have double the risk of developing a deadly pulmonary embolism over time.

One of the greatest benefits of standing more is your organs become aligned properly once again.

They can function best and you will feel your best. At home, consider a standing desk. While this might not be an option at your job, your home office should be suited to your needs. Think about getting one for your children as well as it not only prevents health issues further down the line. It can also help them concentrate better and for much longer.

Your Muscles Get In Top Shape

Fit woman sitting
Sitting less keeps your muscles in top shape

Over time, a sedentary lifestyle causes your muscles to seize up. If you are not using them regularly (during workouts and in your daily life) they lose range of motion, power, and functionality. This puts you at risk for injury and it makes training less effective. Even a great fitness program can be negated by sitting too much.

Besides obviously limiting time spent sitting, you can also look up exercises that reverse the detrimental effect. A couple of simple stretches after work might do the trick. I always encourage my clients to establish that habit. I have found that the ones who do have significantly better results.

And so the bottom line is – sit less if you want to be slimmer and happier! By taking steps to overcome your sitting habit you will improve virtually all aspects of your health and fitness. You don't have to give up your lifestyle, either. Aim to make small lasting changes. Ultimately, they will make the difference and help you reap the benefits of standing.

Do you have any questions for me on this? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Cheers,

David


Writing Things Down

We've been experiencing some glorious (all too rare ;) ) days of amazing sun in London recently. With the sun comes the scrabbling to get into shape and to lose a few last pounds before bikini season kicks off.

The upcoming beach season brings almost as many people to the gym as New Year's resolutions do in January. Many of my new clients come with very specific goals in mind. I only wish they'd get into the habit of writing them down.

My favourite 'hack' I ask my clients to try it to write down what they want to achieve to give them a powerful vision of the future that they can continually work towards. It's highly effective and even though it sounds simple, most people don't do it!

Writing goals down moves you closer to your goals

Write it down.

Does it sound a bit too good to be true that you can write something down at it will actually come true?

There's been a lot of research on this. A lot of studies have shown that those who write their goals down are much more likely to achieve them. One specific study do in the University of California found that those who wrote down their goals were 42% more likely to achieve them!

The simple act of writing down your goals almost doubles your chances of actually making it a reality!

In my work with clients and on my gym floor, I have seen *incredible* transformations.

What all of those people that actually succeeded had in common is they had commitment. What they also had in common is that they wrote their goals down. 

Over the years, I came up with a very specific strategy to help each and every person I work with achieve that level of dedication.  Here is the exact technique I would like you to follow and why it will work for you:

Is it corny? Yes. Is it effective? Yes.

Start With a Specific Goal

Example goal 1: By 1 August 2017, reduce my body fat percentage by 3%.

Example goal 2: In two weeks' time I will fit into those jeans I used to love.

Great goals are detailed, measurable, and they have a time limit. You have to be very honest about what exactly it is that you want. Vague goals will not cut it.

The reason behind this is vague goals are uncertain and leave a lot of room for manoeuvre. Your brain would rather keep you inside your comfort zone. When you don't have a clear goal, you will be constantly overwhelmed. In fact the brain is at its happiest when you have a goal and you are regularly making positive progress towards it.

Unfortunately, procrastination is the most common way your mind deals with overwhelming situations. When a specific goal exists, the uncertainty is out of the equation and so is the anxiety. You can focus all of your mental energy on achieving that goal.

Don't be too ambitious with time frame or size of goal

Avoid being rash or trying to achieve things too quickly.

Don't crash diet to try to reach your goal on an accelerated time frame, you'll end up worse off than when you started because you'll miss your target and feel like you've failed.

Don't break off more than you can chew either. A big part of my philosophy is doing one small thing first to feed a positive feedback loop. 

If your goal is to 'tidy your bedroom today' and you do it - you'll be amazed how this small action can create an amazing positive feedback loop.

Word It Right - be positive

It's all possible if you're positive!

Only use positive sentences in your goal.

Instead of saying 'I want to get rid of cellulite', say 'I want toned upper legs and smooth skin.' These are not the same for your subconscious mind. The first one tells you that there is something wrong. It creates negative emotions and negative self-talk. The underlying message is that you are not good enough.

The second option does quite the opposite. It empowers you. It creates a positive vision to work towards, rather than a negative image that you are trying to run away from.

To make this goal even better, use a verb for action rather than desire.

'I am working toward toned upper legs and smooth skin.'

or

'I am in the process of achieving toned upper legs and smooth skin'.

Not only does this further empower you it makes the goal a reality. Once your subconscious mind accepts that the goal will come true it is much easier to keep pushing to achieve it.

Every goal you have (in your fitness journey or in your life in general) will cause you discomfort. To protect you from the discomfort, the brain builds resistance against the goal. That resistance is what makes the first step the most difficult.

By wording the goal to sound like you are already on your way to achieving it, you effectively trick your mind into thinking that the first step has already been made. This supercharges your motivation and your commitment to the goal.

Put It Where You Will See It

Putting goals by your bathroom mirror increases the chances you'll follow them!

You want to have a constant reminder of that vision you have for yourself. If you enjoy keeping a diary or a physical planner, put your goal on the front page.

If not, another great option would be the bathroom mirror. It might sound weird but it is much more efficient than the traditional 'sticky note on the fridge' method.

Think about it. Every morning and every evening you will spend at least 3 minutes actively thinking about your goal. The power of this daily reminder is intense. It creates a sense of urgency. This is at the core of building lasting motivation.

Break It Down Into Mini Goals

Now that you have your large-scale goal set and visible, it is time to create an actionable plan. Your plan will consist of smaller goals. You want to constantly challenge yourself a little more than you had yesterday. This is what effective workout plans are based on. They are nothing else but a step-by-step instruction to reaching your fitness goal.

I enjoy helping clients put together goal plans in a checklist format. This way every workout feels like a milestone, which it truly is. You are much less likely to skip workouts if you feel the rush of achieving a bit more than you had yesterday.

Remember to write your goals down and if you have any questions or ideas, leave them in the comments below!

Cheers,

D


The Top 7 Ways People Waste Time At The Gym

I get it: you’re really busy juggling work life, home life, having your own life and trying to squeeze a regular gym routine into this busy schedule!

But, simply turning up at the gym isn’t enough, if you’ve only got a few hours each week to dedicate to your training, then make it count. There are plenty of ways to waste your time and I see so many of them virtually every day.

I don’t want you to make those mistakes!

Here are my 7 top ways (not) to waste your time at the gym...

 

Long Slow Cardio

When I ask a new client what they usually do at the gym, I virtually always hear, “the treadmill or cross-trainer for 20-30 minutes and then some weights…” Who made this programme up that everyone seems to follow? I’d love to find them and slap them!

This is honestly such a bad idea and for a number of reasons...

It is a common misconception that you should spend a certain amount of time doing long, slow cardio during every training session. The truth is that you need to do exercise that is of a high enough intensity to make a positive change. Whether that would be strength training or 'cardio' does not matter. Both will make your heart stronger.

Long, slow cardio does not help your muscles grow. In fact, it can even slow down the results. The optimum time to train is around 45 minutes (I’ll go into more detail on this in later articles). So, when you do 30+ minutes of cardio before a workout, fatigue will set in. You will not perform as well during the strength portion. This means you will not hit your muscles as efficiently, you won't see as much improvement in strength, and you will not build muscle. Since increasing your lean muscle mass is what ultimately keeps you looking slim and toned, you really don’t want to miss out on it.

Pink Dumbbells

Pink dumbbells do literally nothing - give them up

I get it, you don’t want to get bulky. Yes, those pretty pink dumbbells are less intimidating, but you have no reason to fear heavier weights. Think about how much a baby weighs and you girls sling one of them on your hip while you get on with that thing called multi-tasking that us guys have no concept of!

Believe me, you will NOT become too bulky as a woman because your biochemical makeup does not allow it and if you only use the pink dumbells you won’t challenge your body enough to change.

When I create a workout program for a client, the main goal is to keep challenging them. If your body is not under enough pressure to perform better, it will not change. The pink dumbells are simply too light to produce the body's response. You have to really hit your muscle deep or else it will not make a difference.

Time under tension is a must for your weights workout.

The Recumbent Bike

Chilling out in the gym is a chronic waster of time

I do not know why they even put these at gyms. The only case where I would recommend the recumbent bike is if you are recovering from some serious neck or back issues. Otherwise, it is a complete waste of time.

First off, steady state cardio is virtually pointless. More importantly, people prefer the recumbent bike because they are more comfortable. You can scroll through Instagram while you are "exercising"! This is not efficient exercise and it won’t even get your slightly out of breath! So please, move on to another machine.

Hip Adductor /Adductor Machine

More time wasting

I get it, the image on the side of the machine shows you that this is the best machine to tone your butt and develop that elusive thigh gap! But don’t believe the hype. The hip abduction/adduction machines are not only inefficient, they are also dangerous. The muscles that they work don't typically engage in an isolated exercise. Their job is to keep you stable while doing a complex movement. Just in general, isolation exercises are not a great way to go. Ditch this now and learn to squat properly!

Checking Your Phone

Don't be tempted to check your phone in the gym!

One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people simply sitting on the machine and scrolling through their emails. Seriously, can people not bear to be away from their mobiles for even half an hour? The gym should be time for you, away from distractions, away from work and away from whatever other people are up to on social media!

Just looking at it during rest periods doesn’t count either! Use that time effectively. Drink water, slow your breathing down, log your workout, stretch and then prepare to go again.

Not Recording Your Workouts

If you have a personal trainer they will do that for you. Even so, I still encourage my clients to keep a workout journal.

The basic premise, if you are working out by yourself, is to:
1. Before the workout, write down exactly what you are going to do.
2. Record your weights and the number of reps and sets you perform
3. After the workout, review how you feel.

It is as simple as that. You do not want to spend too much time on it but workout tracking is an amazing way to ensure that one way or another, you achieve progress in every session.

Going In Without a Plan

It usually happens in January. People would rush into their local gyms determined not to break their resolution this year. By February hardly any of them is a regular.

The harsh truth about exercise is that you will not see results when you want them to appear. It will take persistence. The trouble is if you don't have a plan, you will struggle to keep up the good work. Not only that but once you do start to see results, you will often hit a plateau (as you have gotten used to a routine that no longer challenges you).

If you want your time at the gym to count long-term, make a long-term plan. Set monthly goals, or even bi-weekly goals. You can take inspiration from workout plans online. Keep in mind, however, that these are geared to the general public and might not fit your specific needs. Research and ask a lot of questions. This blog, for one, is a space where I would love to help you out with any doubts you might have. Just leave them in comments!

Stop wasting your time and make each workout count!

Good luck.

David