Stop Trying To Make Things Easy

Lacing up running shoes

You may be lacking motivation for exercise during lockdown and I’ve got the solution:

Stop trying to make things easy. 

You can do hard things.

Do you think when we’re in the gym my programming for you is meant to feel easy?

I sure as hell don’t.

Sometimes I’ll start off by easing you into it.

Give you a grace period to wake up, warm up, shape up.

But that’s just lube for your attitude. 

I make every single session you do with me just 

A

Little 

Bit 

Harder

than you think you can manage.

That varies from day to day.

There are about a million factors which influence it, all of which we establish by having an honest coaching conversation. I can’t coach you if you won’t talk to me. That’s literally all I ask for from my Tribe.

On day one where you’re nervous and excited and uncertain about what on earth I’m asking you to do… that day, “just a little bit harder” might be getting you familiar with and using new language to talk about moving: squatting, deadlifting, words for muscles. 

By day 100 it might be that extra kilo on the bar.

Or that second off your rowing time.

But if your motivation to work out during lockdown has gone missing, consider that it might be that you’re trying to make life too easy for yourself.

That’s right: too easy.

Sure, there’s a time and a place for that. 

I actually pride myself on being pretty good at reading that in you guys and giving you the right balance that you need. 

Sometimes you do need to sack it off completely and go grab a coffee and use the hour productively meal planning or just taking an hour to not think about All The Things…

But don’t forget: You can do hard things. 

I know you can because I trained you to do it. 

It’s the thing that every member of The Tribe has in common, whether you’re in your 20s or in your 70s. You all take a deep breath in the face of whatever I’ve asked you to do, square your shoulders, and say, “I’ll give it a go”.

Right? Every single one of you has done that with me. 

You’ve just forgotten because we haven’t seen each other face to face in a minute for me to make you do the hard things.

Every single one of you has completed a Dark Place Workout where the only instruction I’ve given you is to be mindful of how you talk to yourself. 

The aim of those workouts is to train your mindset. 

To bulletproof you against hardship. 

To get you to lean into and embrace the suffering.

This is me giving you a pep talk right now. 

Unlike other people, you don’t need things to be easy to get them done. Things are hard because you’re lacking motivation? Good. That’s where we work best.

You don’t need motivation because you have discipline. Don’t feel like training today? Good. Do it anyway because those are the sessions that feel best when they’re over.

You decide when you’re successful. Not lockdown, not fleeting motivational bullshit. You move your needle. 

Book a call today.

First? Take Action. Motivation Will Follow.

Struggling with motivation? Here’s the little know strategy you can employ right now to find it again.

Woman with no motivation lays in bed

This week I have spoken to several people who have told me that their motivation to work out was rock bottom. 

Does this sound like you?

“How can I motivate myself during this horrendous time?”

“I haven’t worked out in a week”

“I have been letting lockdown control me”

And several others that were – frankly – deeply emotional insights into how you guys speak to yourselves on the daily… You ain’t nice.

Motivation is fickle and is never around when you need it. Since we’ve been out of the gym, it’s dropped off. For some of you, it’s down to almost zero.

Not totally zero though, because you’re still responding to my messages. 

You’re still communicating. That’s awesome because once that stops, it becomes a lot harder to pull things back on track.

People make this mistake all the time, they think that first they need to be motivated and then they can work out and it will feel effortless.

Forget motivation. You can’t rely on it. Even when it does turn up, it’s the arse end of the night when you’re lying in bed and can’t do anything anyway.

(That’s exactly why it turns up then… trust me, I was a psychologist)

Instead of waiting around for motivation to grab you, I’m going to tell you the secret that a lot of people don’t know.

First: Take action. Don’t wait for motivation – that comes second. 

Take Small Deliberate Action.

It shouldn’t be crazy. Starting small isn’t a compromise – it’s an essential component of building momentum. 

What’s the one thing you can do right now that’s so ridiculously easy that you think it’s not even worth doing? 

Can you find your daps and lay them out by your front door?

Can you stand up right now and do a squat? 

Can you bang out 5 push-ups against the kitchen sink?

Can you walk to the end of your garden and back?

Once you’ve done one thing, something, anything – no matter how small or insignificant it seems, you start to feel that little kindle of motivation returning. 

Don’t believe me? Try it. 

Pick just one thing that seems minor and do it right now. I’ll wait.

If you didn’t do it – the thing you picked was too hard.

You’ve got to meet yourself where you’re at right now and that might be literally standing up off the couch. 

It’s a start. That’s all we’re looking to do.

Take action first and motivation will follow. Need more help to get started? I can help, let’s chat.

Are you willing to tell me what you’re struggling with most at the moment? I’d really appreciate you filling out this questionnaire. It will only take 2 minutes and I’ll use it to write more content that is useful for you.

Overeating During The COVID-19 Quarantine

Empty supermarket shelves during covid-19

I’ve seen a bunch of content floating around the internet recently bemoaning the potential for weight gain during the lockdown we’re going through at the moment to isolate against COVID-19.

There are a few things I’d like to talk about.

You Might Have More Food Around

Wide selections of food availability can encourage you to eat more. Food diversity is a recognised factor in overeating. This is why so many successful dieters stick to a fairly limited range of food choices day in and day out. Avoiding having trigger foods at home right now might be a smart strategy.

Overeating calories will cause you to gain weight. So eating more calories than you need – coupled with the likelihood that you’re less active than usual because of the restriction on movement outside of the home – could mean that you’re gaining weight. 

That’s if you’re lucky enough to have food at home, and you didn’t leave the supermarket empty handed.

Mindless Eating

Mindless eating is a risk year round of eating more, not just due to the exceptional circumstances we all face at the moment. It’s a good idea to make mealtimes your sole focus – not watching TV or scrolling through your phone will you eat. 

It can help to have a set meal time, and not graze throughout the day. Consider sitting at a table, and make the meal an ‘event’ for the family during the day. Putting your utensils down while you chew can slow your eating down, so you digest more thoroughly and feel fuller. Here’s a link to more detail on how you can practice mindfulness in your mealtimes.

Food Proximity

You’re closer to your food than you would be normally – particularly if you’re working from home for the first time. Perhaps you may be dipping in and out of your fridge every time you get up from your work station and this sense of proximity can lead to snacking.

You might make healthy snacks visible and put away less optimal snacks out of sight. If possible, you could also move further away from your kitchen when you’re working. 

It’s An Emotional Time

Increased stress might lead to as much as an increase of 21% more food consumed for some people who relate to being emotional eaters

Whereas others may be skipping meals due to their emotional upset, and not realise. Then, later, they might make food choices which don’t align with their goals and values and increase their emotional state indirectly. 

You May Be Feeling Bored

Like the Grinch, you may just be eating because you’re bored. Finding a way to structure working from home, or to create a sense of purpose during your day can help. If you’re still working from home, trying to keep things as normal as possible can help. If you’re not able to work at the moment, some structure during the day can make a difference. It could be a new time to try learning a new skill or a hobby. Even getting ahead on planning meals could be a great step.

Regardless of whether you’re overeating or not, this is a difficult time for many people. You could be experiencing food shortages, or isolation from your loved ones. You are likely to have more pressing concerns at the moment than a few extra calories. Remember, you’re only ever one choice away from being back on track. If I can help you with your focus, you can book a call today and we can have a chat at a time that works for you.

Nutrition Challenge: Alcohol

Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

This Saturday the nutrition class asked if we could talk about alcohol.

It gets over consumed, particularly this time of year, with so many social events going on. You don’t want to turn down the invitation to come over for a glass of wine – because you don’t want to turn down the company of your friends and family. You don’t want to miss out on those memories, and that’s completely understandable.

But the concern is when you start over consuming alcohol – and that looks different for everyone. Perhaps the 2 or 3 glasses a night to take the edge off makes you feel a little apprehensive. Or maybe you’re strictly tee total all week, but once Friday night hits, you’re more of a binge drinker.

Alcohol can be tricky but not impossible to include in a healthy diet. The main issues are that it stimulates appetite, usually leads to you making less than desirable choices because your judgement is impaired, and definitely will be making it harder for you to enter the deepest stages of sleep.

Like anything, I think the solution lies in what we can do to move the needle just a little bit. You don’t have to give up alcohol entirely – that might not be the right option for you. Instead could you drink 2 glasses instead of 3? Could you include a soft drink in-between alcoholic drinks? Or could you sip the drink so it lasts longer?

Like so many things we do nutritionally, noticing where you’re at right now is the first step. Studies suggest that our own estimations of our alcohol consumption is often under reported. Alcohol is about making trades – it’s one factor which can affect physical performance, health and fitness and it’s linked with others. But giving up the weekend happy hour with your colleagues, or the beers with the rugby may or may not be worth it for you. You’re an adult and you know what’s best for your body.

It might make it harder to get to the gym on Saturday morning if you’ve been out on Friday night. It could make it harder to say no to food which isn’t in line with your goals that night and the next day. It is also likely to make it harder to sleep well and wake up rested.


There’s no best answer because the research on booze isn’t super clear, just like what counts as “moderate” consumption is unclear. Instead of a right answer, let’s try finding an answer that’s right for you.

Figure out your current drinking habits by keeping an accurate record for the next week or two. We’re just collecting data, and this is just for you to look at – no judgement, and no need to share it with anyone.

Review your data, and consider whether it’s what you expected. Are you drinking more or less than you thought you were? Is your drinking slow, social and savoured or do you tend to be alone, and slamming it back? Can you spot any triggers – such as always drinking after a particular shift in work? Does alcohol actually enrich your life, or does it cause you stress and unnecessary worry? And is your drinking okay, but all the other behaviours that come with it (eating choices, smoking, texting toxic people, possible drug use) could do with being looked at?

Notice how alcohol feels in your body. This is such an astonishingly simple test. “Does this feel good?” was the question that allowed us to figure out that my husband was actually allergic to alcohol!

Aside from the physical test, does it put you in a good place emotionally, mindset and general perspective? Remember, alcohol is a depressant. That’s why people use it to take the edge off a difficult day. Do you like who you are when you’re drinking?

You’re a grown up, and you’re in charge of what you put in your own body. What you say yes and no to, as well as what you’re prepared to say yes and no to – is your choice. But it can be a useful exercise to make drinking alcohol mindful again: Delay having that drink by 10 minutes, when you do choose it – savour it, and keep the quality high. Ditch the firewater for the good stuff, remember, it’s going in your body so quality matters.

If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption, it might be worth talking to your doctor or other healthcare professional about your consumption, habits and choices.

Nutrition Challenge: I’ve Got a Sweet Tooth!

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Each week on a Saturday I run a diet and nutrition class in the gym I work at. Each Sunday I put up a question box on instagram stories to encourage people to make requests for the following Saturday’s topic.

People every week identify that they have a sweet tooth, and consider this a barrier to them losing weight. Of my own in-person clients, over 50% of women consider themselves to have a sweet tooth when asked in a survey.

High sugar foods alone aren’t the problem though, it’s the combination of sugar with fats which make foods super delicious and difficult to say no to. A highly engineered result we call “hyper-paletable foods”.

So, if you can’t resist the Halloween treats in the supermarket this week, or you are drawn to the snack baskets in your house – you’re not alone and you’re not to blame. These foods are manufactured to be almost impossible to resist. Pretty sneaky.

Even people who have got very healthy relationships with food have a hard time saying no to certain “trigger foods”. These are different for everyone, but they’re almost always highly processed, high sugar, high fat, high salt – and highly available.

Food manufacturers have revealed Big 5 stimuli stacking elements of foods.

  1. Calorie dense – often high in sugar, fat & salt
  2. Intense flavours – often combining flavours in ways that psychologists call “supernormal stimuli
  3. Immediately delicious – the big flavours pack and immediate punch
  4. Easy to eat – this relates to the texture and ‘mouth feel’ of foods which don’t need to be heavily chewed
  5. Melts in the mouth – these foods disappear quickly from the mouth, making it hard to eat slowly, and very easy to eat more than you intended to. Specifically, these manufactured foods should be broken down in no more than 10 chews. Compared with around 25 chews per mouthful of whole foods.

These Big 5 components are what food manufactorers look for when designing foods for marketability and they are even more important than how foods actually taste!

Clearly, the solution to overeating these foods shouldn’t rely on willpower alone. There are some things you can do to stop overeating these hyperpaletable foods.

  • Observe as you chew how things feel and taste in your mouth. How long it takes to chew and swallow the foods, and do you feel satisfied after eating it? These things might influence whether we keep eating.
  • Pay attention to the less healthy foods that you buy and consider cutting down on the variety. By allowing yourself some ‘treats’ it can help adherence to a calorie controlled diet and by limiting your choices, that can take some of the temptation out of the picture.
  • Pay attention to the craving. This is likely to have been triggered by something – and it can help to keep a note book on your observations for a week or two to get to the bottom of what’s causing them.

Common triggers include:

Thoughts and feelings: thinking of food as a reward, or something that you’ve earned. Feeling bored, lonely or sad. Food can be something you’re using to fill the void.

Times of day: lots of my in-person clients recognise this one – so much so, that the “2pm twix” had become a running joke. These snacks are part of your routine.

Social settings: it’s my colleague’s birthday, and there are cakes in the staffroom again. It’s happy hour and I always have a bag of crisps with my pint.

Places: your parents’ house, a dark movie theatre, or the automated way you order at a familiar restaurant can all be triggers to eat without really thinking about it.

Once you’ve spotted the pattern, we can put other behaviours in place instead – behaviours which support your goals instead of sabotaging them. Then it’s a case of practicing.

You might not get it right first time – and the act of practicing can take a while, but you are able to make those changes that you want in your life.

If you’d like me to help you, fill out the form below and let’s have a chat.

Staying Full on a Diet

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

This morning’s workshop on nutrition was requested by a member who had been dieting for a while, but struggled to feel full on the foods she was choosing. When she started to feel hungry, she’d overeat and that made it difficult for her to achieve her weight loss goals.

The request came in last week. As I always do, I took a week to think about the problem and start to suggest some solutions. The ideas I had seemed to be grouped into two camps; those relating directly to food choices, and those which did not.

Stuff that isn’t about food

Indirectly, much of the content of last’ week’s article on mindful and emotional eating seemed to apply – particularly with regard to not eating while distracted, such as while watching TV or on your phone.

Increasingly, people feel pressured to eat lunch at their desks and take a working lunch. I’d encourage you to avoid that if at all possible. Your work is almost definitely not so indispensable that you can’t spare 10 minutes to walk away from it for a snack and a break!

*If your job actually is life and death then obviously don’t bin it off for a sandwich and a prolonged bathroom break. Don’t be a dick.

Actually planning meals, and becoming organised with cooking helps. It also helps to know when you’re getting to eat next, so you don’t eat like an arsehole out of hunger because you don’t know when the next meal will be coming & you’re panicking. 

Remember when you were a kid, and you’d be told “don’t eat that now, you’ll spoil your tea” – same principle applies. Except now you’re the responsible adult… but also the hungry and impatient kid.

Noticing when you get physically hungry during the day and planning a snack for that time can be a great strategy for some. I’ve had a few clients talk about the 2pm chocolate bar fix, or the bag of nuts on the bus ride home that could – if they weren’t careful – spoil their deficit for the day. 

Rely on diet drinks, and zero calorie pop to satisfy that sweet craving instead. Some people may also feel fuller and less hungry by selecting a fizzy, carbonated drink. There is absolutely no reason why you should be avoiding aspartame, no matter what your colleagues told you.

Last week, we talked about the good old Precision Nutrition strategy of eating to 80% full, and putting down your fork as you chew. An incredibly difficult, albeit super simple, target. Even managing this for one meal a day can make a huge difference to how much you appreciate your meals. 

The actual food choices

Regarding the food itself, last week we talked about drinking a big glass of water before and during the meal to feel fuller & help your food digest more easily. 

This week I’d add that avoiding heavily processed foods can help feelings of fullness. This is one that I have relied on in the past, and it’s related to the point about getting organised and preparing food. If you aren’t prepared the chances are you’re going to end up with something processed, which probably won’t fill you, and will probably cost more than you want to be spending. These foods get expensive quickly and are of variable quality. It’s not the end of the world now and again, but it better suits your diet, and your pocket, if you can be a little bit better prepared.

Selecting a lean source of protein at every meal will be a good start, as protein helps you to feel fuller for longer – it’s highly “satiating”. If you’d like a list of possible protein sources, check out this infographic I made, about the bang for your buck you get with different protein sources. 

Finally, adding volume to your meals by adding as many vegetables as possible – a low calorie, high fibre option which makes it seem like you’re eating loads of food, even when the calories remain low. 

For more tips on managing your diet, like my Facebook page, join our free Facebook group and download my free e-book to help you with exactly this issue.