Blog - Health & Fitness
Simply, mindfulness is awareness of the present or the ability to be present in all aspects of our lives. It's a honing of the mind to focus on what is happening right now. You're more productive when you're mindful. But more importantly, being present is undoubtedly the only way to enjoy life to the fullest. By being mindful, you enjoy your food more, you enjoy friends and family more, you enjoy exercise, you enjoy anything you're doing more.
There are a few simple steps that can lead us to the experience of profound attention and a direct experience of the moment that we're in.
Take A Breath
Breath, along with change, is the only constant, and being present starts with the breath. Simply draw a deep breath and let it out through your nose. When we breathe through our mouth it triggers a subtle anxiety response, which increases heart rate and redirects blood flow. A slow release of breath through the nose has the opposite effect of mouth-breathing, and draws a relaxation response. Nevertheless, if done correctly, breathing through your mouth can be very powerful when used as part of a breath-hold technique such as the Wim Hof method.
Do One Thing At A Time
Contrary to popular belief, human beings cannot multitask. What we are capable of is handling a number of serial tasks in rapid succession, or mixing automatic tasks with those that are not so automatic. That's one of the reasons that the National Transportation Safety Board in the US reports that texting while driving is the functional equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
I climbed Kili before it killed me.
High altitude is no joke. I really started to feel the effects from 4000 metres and above.
When your lungs feel like they've been tied in a knot...
When headache feels like your head is going to explode...
When every step is a struggle...
When the blisters on your toes feel like torture...
When every cell in your body is telling you to turn back...
What do you do?
Do you give in to the pain?
Do you crumble?
Do you retreat and go lick your wounds...
Or do you keep climbing until you reach the summit or collapse?
Only you can make this decision. No one is going to carry you. Make it happen or accept the defeat. Either way, you’re responsible.
If it's important, you will persevere. If it's not, you will resign.
The choice is yours.
Now go get it... if you REALLY want it.
What ever it is that you want from 2016 is not going to just come to you. You’ll have to get dirty. You’ll have to pour some sweat. You’ll have to deal with stress, pain and disappointment. You may just have to die and be reborn in some way. This, as I feel, is what happened to me on my Kilimanjaro adventure.
Just remember one thing… No pressure, no diamonds :)
We can only discover our true potential if we make the effort to go over our pre-conceived limits. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
The biggest challenge for me this year is the charity fundraising project Kilimanjaro Dreams. I’ve never climbed a mountain before, and I’m inexperienced at fundraising, nevertheless, I’ve committed to take part in this just two months from now.
The Red Rubber Ball Foundation philosophy is to educate and inspire people to become leaders and break free from the situation they find themselves in, and in turn inspire others to do the same, especially in Kenya. Currently Red Rubber Ball has 62 students in education that would not be without private funding. The 62 are from different communities in Kenya, some are from the well known (perhaps for the wrong reasons) Kibera slums.
RRB is embarking on a new leadership programme. Out of the 62 students, 15 have been selected to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with 15 adults from UK, including me. We’re departing on 27th December 2015. There is nothing special about the 15 of us from UK except that we are all passionate about The Red Rubber Ball cause. We have little climbing/walking/camping/roughing it experience between us.
The objective for the selected 15 students is that they will lead and inspire others in their community, and will often lead the way on the mountain I am sure. Following this, they will be encouraged and resourced to lead other leadership programmes in their communities.
Sadly, none of this comes cheap. I am asking for sponsorship specifically for the Kilimanjaro initiative. Your contribution helps to pay for the youngsters to do the climb, and in turn inspire their communities to create positive change. If we raise more than is targeted, it could help pay for other initiatives in the future.
If you’d like to contribute, please follow the link below:
So it’s almost 2 months into 2015. At the beginning of the year you probably did set some goals for yourself. Or at least you thought about what you’d like to accomplish this year. Most people do anyway.
Like me for example, one of the things I planned was writing my blog more often. Which obviously I haven’t done :D But hey, things change, life happens, and we have to focus on priorities.
They say that at least 8 times out of 10, you are more likely to fall back into your old habits and patterns than you are to stick with a new behavior.
I think this is very true. Behaviour change is hard. No question about it. But why is that? Why do we quit? And what can we do to make sure we stick to it and follow through?
It all starts with a reality check. You must admit to yourself that you’ve screwed up. Then you can either abandon the goal as something that’s actually not important, or change your strategy and start again.
If you look back at the first few weeks of 2015 and find that you procrastinated, missed your goals, or failed your resolutions then take responsibility for it. It's your fault. Own it.
But don't beat yourself up over it because today you have a clean slate. Even though it’s not the 1st of January. Because it doesn’t have to be! You can still turn it around.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
~ Winston Churchill
So I’ve been absent for a few weeks, and those of you who follow my blog / social media know that I was getting ready for WBFF London fitness model competition for another shot at the elusive pro card. I had a blast on the stage, got the first call-out, which is a very good sign, and was in the best shape of my life, but still only manage to place 8th.
After the show I had to give myself a few days to process how I'm actually feeling. Emotions shift quickly, so often the best way is to put them aside, and consider your feelings after the limbic brain has calmed down and you can think rationally. That's just me being a brainiac, as per usual :)
I did have some doubts about whether to keep pursuing this goal. Do I really have a chance to compete with guys who have always been into sports, whereas I couldn’t do a single push-up until I was 17? Would I ever be able to win against athletes with incredible genetics, and skeletal structure designed for the particular aesthetic standards of fitness industry? Or perhaps I was just dreaming the impossible dream?
Dreams do come true. But only if you truly believe in yourself, and are willing to do what ever it takes to make it happen. So I took the chance to compete at another WBFF show in Miami, which luckily was taking place only one week later, making it easier to maintain my shape. I got there on Friday evening to step on stage on Saturday two times for prejudging and evening show. In a very competitive class of about 20 guys I managed to get the 1st place and WBFF fitness model pro card!!
Achieving the physique you desire is not supposed to be easy. Otherwise everyone you meet would be in tremendous shape. And we know very well that it's not the case.
This, however, doesn't mean that you need to give up all the things you enjoy in order to reach your goal. Despite what you may have heard from all the sad people who always got an excuse for not following their dreams.
The thing that makes the difference is knowledge, and proper application of it i.e. actually doing the thing. There are certain principles that I follow in regards to nutrition. One of them is avoiding the mix of these two macronutrients. Read more about it here.
My next big challenge is WBFF London fitness model show on 8th of November. It's the 3rd time I'm competing with this organisation, and I'm determined to have a great result. If you'd like to see what's it all about, whether for entertainment or to gain inspiration for your own goals, I would love to see you there. You can get tickets by following this link.
And here is a video showing how I prepare for the show, while still enjoying life, and having loads of fun.
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” Leonardo Da Vinci
Did you set some goals in the beginning of this year? More than half of 2014 has passed. Have you managed to do what you said you would? Or have you been living in Procrastinationland all this time?
Procrastination is the triumph of short-term mood repair over long-term goal completion, says Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Carleton University in Ontario. The part of your brain that controls emotion (and thrives on instant gratification) is older and often stronger than the part that understands what’s best for you in the long run, Pychyl explains.
Procrastination entertains the delusory feeling that the task at hand may, with time, disappear. It is usually a symptom of some other problem: poor preparation, perfectionism, a fear of failure or rejection, or just a simple lack of motivation and interest. You know very well that if you don’t eventually get into action, you’re wasting your time. So what can you do to cross the barrier between merely thinking about it and actually making it happen?
I’d like to share with you an email I got from a female client recently:
I just want to start by saying a huge thank you for all of your support so far!! I've still got some way to go in reaching my ultimate goal however, I am so much closer to what I'm trying to achieve and the results so far are amazing.
Just wanted to talk to you about the Hip Thrust exercise. Now as you know I'm keen to work towards creating that apple bottom, lol. But I have found that the equipment / weights are largely kept in quite male dominated areas of the gym... Oh the testosterone! I've had stares, competition for attention, flirtatious glances, guys trying to spark a short conversation... All a little awkward during or after I'm thrusting my hips in the air! Today I totally zoned out and thought f%#$ it! Completed my reps, ensured there's no eye contact and went on to my next exercise.
So my question is, are there any other exercises that I can do to achieve the same result? Or shall I stick with it!?”
Why Are They Staring?
I guess staring is something we have all experienced in the gym. And usually a woman is more likely to be the staree in these dynamics. Not that guys don’t stare at other guys, and girls stare at girls too, but that’s a different conversation.
I believe there's a difference between staring and noticing. Nobody would like to be seen as perv, but I'm sorry, when a woman with a nice body comes in with a lycra workout outfit, you just can't help but at least look at her out the corner of your eye. It’s only noticing and appreciating the aesthetics.
Discretely checking out the women around you in any environment is normal. Now when you’re camped out with a pair of binoculars and a box of donuts, that’s a different story.
I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. ~Woody Allen
Laughter is strong medicine for the mind and the body. It’s a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and anxiety.
Nothing brings your mind and body back into balance like a good laugh. It makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter fades.
Humour always helps you keep a positive outlook. It lightens your burdens, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.
Here are 5 reasons to laugh more often:
- It Enhances Blood Pressure and Flow
When it comes to cardiac health, seriousness may be, well, as serious as a heart attack. That's because laughter has been shown to lower or balance blood pressure and increase vascular blood flow. Scientific studies have shown that by reviving blood circulation and increasing oxygenation of the blood, laughter may help to prevent heart disease.
- It Improves Blood Sugar Levels
In a medical study, people with type 2 diabetes and those without the disease ate a meal, and then attended a boring lecture; the next day, the subjects again ate the same meal, but then joined a comedy show audience. The subjects recorded that blood glucose levels didn't increase after the meal for the diabetic patients at the comedy show. Researchers haven't pinpointed the exact cause -- perhaps laughter impacts the neuroendocrine system and restrains blood sugar levels from spiking, or it may cause the acceleration of glucose use by muscle motion.
- It Relieves Stress
Laughter decreases levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine that can suppress the immune system, opening the floodgates to a host of infections, illnesses and general poor health. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of wellbeing and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- It Provides a Burst of Exercise
According to researchers, laughing 100 times is equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on the stationary bicycle. And the best part is that you don't need to break a sweat in order to have really good laugh! Besides that laughter can momentarily clear the respiratory system. Just like with exercise, people tend to take deep breaths in and out during heavy laughter, which helps unclog airways and enhances inhalation and oxygen intake.
- It Boosts Your Social Skills
They say when you laugh, the world laughs with you, but when you weep, you weep all by yourself. That's because no one wants to hang around someone who has nothing positive to say. Finding the humor in life and being able to laugh at it will only improve your social skills. Many scientists believe laughter allows humans to connect, bond and communicate with each other. The more comfortable you feel with someone else, the easier it becomes to laugh. In fact, leading researchers believe people are 30 times more likely to laugh in social settings than if they were alone.
Funniest Personal Trainer In London?
If you have been following my blog posts, you may remember that I mentioned recently taking part in a comedy show. Basically, I heard about this stand-up comedy workshop, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed, I thought I’d give it a try. Little did I know that by taking part you also commit to doing a 5-minute stand-up comedy set at a famous pub in Central London!
Here is a video from the event. It was an amazing experience, considering that it was the first time I’ve ever done it. Pardon some of my rude jokes, and remember that it’s not necessarily a true story unless a comedian explicitly states that it is :)