Life Coaching, Motivation

Life is Like a Cake – the Result Depends on You

You know sometimes you sign up for things with certain expectations but you end up with unexpected results? Yeah, happens right?

Well, last month I attended a life coaching and neurolinguistic programming course and boy was it intense!
We learned about the power of the mind, how we perceive reality, the importance of how we use language both in our thinking and in conversing with others and so much more!

I’ve always had an interest in the science of the human mind. Why do we do what we do? A question that always popped in my mind when observing others.

There are many avenues to study human behavior, but it all starts with our minds! So, learning ‘the language of the mind’ as I like to call it, seemed like a valuable investment.

Yet, as you know, knowledge is power and that can sometimes be scary. Yes, with such knowldedge comes the responsibility for change. Here’s a metaphor to help get my point across:

“Many people have described life as being like a cake. Many ingredients can go into a cake, but the finished cake is down to what we do with those ingredients. We all have different life situations, but we can choose what we do with those ingredients. Some people have many fantastic ingredients, but the cake is a flop. Others have few ingredients, or less desirable ingredients, but are great cooks and make wonderful cakes.”

When we look at our lives and the results we got so far, do we see ourselves as the cause – “I made it happen” – or did life just happen to us? Are we powerless? Do we not have the choice to cause results? 

The philosophy of NLP is based precisely around that. Our conditioned mind drives our behavior which in turn produces certain results in our lives. Therefore every conscious and unconscious decision has affected our lives in some way.

Then, it seems logical to focus our thoughts and decisions towards the things that we want no?

We are powerful, we are the cause!
P.S.

If you would like to learn more about NLP and Life coaching, please feel free to send me your questions on inspiredbymiranda@gmail.com

Motivation

Lessons from a Legend

With the passing of Muhammed Ali, the world mourns the loss of an invincible athlete, irrepressible activist and a great human being. He challenged preconceptions and fought till the end.

There is a lot we can learn from this legend, but here are the top picks of words of wisdom:

Lesson one: Believe in yourself!

I Am The Greatest I Said That Even Before I Knew I Was ‚Äď Personal Development Quote

Lesson two: Don’t waste time.

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Lesson three: The devil is in the details – don’t underestimate ‘little’ things.

Muhammad Ali Quote

Lesson four: There is no easy way. Success comes with hard work.

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Lesson five: Be graceful, even if you have power.

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And just for fun ūüôā Be fierce!

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Motivation

Finding motivation: the first step is always the hardest!

This week the question “Where do I start?” has been thrown at me a few times.

“You are so fit, how do you do it?” Well, you know the saying – where there is a will, there is a way!

So if you have been asking yourself (or others) this question, well done – you have find yourself some lingering will power. Now it’s time to put it in action.

When starting a new healthy lifestyle, it is very important to:

  1. Know why you are doing this, and:
  2. Understand that everybody is different.

Firstly, why do you want to change your lifestyle? To look good? To feel fitter & healthier? To overcome existing health conditions? Or to live a long, healthful life?

No matter what your reason is, make sure it is a long-term goal. It is a new lifestyle, not just a temporary fix!

Once you have found your personal long-term motive, create a vision board or write it down. Make sure that these items are in plain sight (and preferably close to your bed) – they will serve you as a reminder of what you are trying to achieve.

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Why take this approach? Visualization is a powerful mental tool which can help you stay on track. It is a commonly used technique in the health & fitness industry, from professional athletes to mental health practitioners.

Once your vision is set in stone (or paper:) ), it is time to seek information and educate yourself. The internet is full of advice, from highly technical research to instagram wisdom – whatever you seek you shall find.

But this is also the cause of much confusion. And that is why you need to remember that everyone is unique. What has worked for one person, may not work for the other.

We are different in so many ways – our genes, our upbringing, our current lifestyles & resources, our likes & dislikes…

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Illustration by Sarah & Catherine Satrun

Therefore it is important not to compare yourself to others so much. This will most likely lead to either over-ambition & injury/health problem or abandonment of goals & demotivation/depression.

Here’s why it is important to talk to someone with qualifications & experience. There are many friendly folk in the gym who can guide you to the right source of advice. Even then, be cautious – ask around to find out different opinions &¬†don’t be afraid of trial & error.

The most important thing is to find something that you enjoy and you can easily fit within your current lifestyle. And remember: making small, gradual changes is much more likely to lead to consistent progress towards your goal.

lifestyle, Motivation

20 Ways to Beat Stress

Last week I was lucky to attend a stress management workshop by Heidi Jones, a Dubai-based integrative health & nutrition coach. Read below to find out what I have learned.

Heidi Jones

Most of us are living a busy, fast-paced life where 24 hours never seem enough. All sorts of pressures & deadlines loom over our heads, making us feel stressed out. It is important to be self-aware and to know how stress affects the body and our emotional wellbeing.

We have all heard about the fight or flight response when we are in a stressful situation – but did you know that it can cause a host of physical as well as mental symptoms? Stomach ache, indigestion, heart palpitations, jitters – these are just a few of the physical signs showing that we are stressed.

Normally, a bit of stress is good for us. Why? It helps us be more focused and do what needs to be done. Once the stressful task is complete we go back to our ‘rest & digest’ zone, where the body and mind are relaxed.

However, in today’s day & age we are more likely to be almost constantly in the ‘fight or flight’ zone as we claw through a long list of deadlines or urgent and important matters. This is certainly not good for our long-term health.

So what can you do to help yourself spend more time in the ‘rest & digest’ zone? The questionnaire below, developed by Heidi Jones, will help you assess your work-life balance by looking into which stress management strategies you use often and which ones you need to start using:

Stress Management Questionnaire

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Now that you have a list of 20 very practical and easy to apply stress management strategies, you may want to think about what is stopping you from using them in your day-to-day life.

One thing we all have in common is that we all have 24 hours in the day. People are achieving amazing things in those hours – and so can you!

“You have to be very, very clear on what it is that you want. If you know what you want, then you know you need to work towards that and it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice anymore. It feels like it is part of the journey, it’s part of the process, it’s part of you growing as a person to get to where you want to be.” – Heidi Jones

We believe that we can’t do it, we don’t have time… but these are just beliefs – they are not facts.

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So here you are: start by implementing practical strategies to relieve yourself of stress, but don’t forget to take the time out and ask yourself what you really want to achieve in life. Sometimes not knowing what we want to achieve is the biggest stress!

P.S.

If you need more help or would like to know more about how to transform your life, go to Heidi’s blog – http://www.heidijoneshealthcoach.com – where you can get in touch with her.

Motivation

If she can do it, so can you!

I have just finished watching a very inspirational documentary and couldn’t wait to share it with you!

Why am I so excited? Because this is real story about a real woman who, despite all the obstacles, reached her goal and beyond.

At 8 months pregnant, Elle decided to compete in a sports model competition after her second child’s birth. If that wasn’t hard enough, Elle decided to embark on this journey without any help (apart from her husband) – no personal trainer, no nutritionist, no nanny or house help and no gym.

That’s right! Elle had to look after her new born and toddler, take care of her ailing husband, workout and prepare her meals on her own.

Moral of the story? If you really want something, you will find the time to do it – if not you will find excuses!

You can watch the full (1-hour) documentary below:

Fitness

Exercise of the week: Battle Ropes

Battle ropes are great part of Strongman training and a great conditioning exercise. I love using them as an addition to a weight training programme especially closer to competition date. Here is why:

Conditioning:
* prepares you for battle and fires up metabolism
* makes you lean and hard.
* gives you great body
* makes you better at any physical activity.
* is testosterone stimulating
* relieves anxiety,
* boosts all-day energy
* Fires up brain function

Here’s how:

Conditioning is about short, hard intervals.
* Choose a conditioning exercise. Go hard for 15 to 30 seconds
* Rest minimum 30-45sec or go straight to another exercise
* Repeat.

Motivation

You vs. Stress

We all know that stress is bad for us. There are countless articles regarding the damaging effects of stress on physical and mental health. It is clear that stress affects our longevity and quality of life, but what can we do to combat this public enemy #1?

First, it is important to recognise that there are many sources of stress on the body Рour environment (weather, noise, pollution, chemicals and toxins, etc.),  our physical activity (exercise, strain & injury), our mental and health state (emotions, thoughts, nutrition and sleep).

Therefore it can be seen that stress enters the body through multiple sources – directly through our skin, our ears and our mouth, but also indirectly through what we see, hear and think about.

thumb_IMG_0385_1024-2At first, it may seem overwhelming to deal with this constant invasion of stress, however there are little steps we can take every day to reduce the pressure we put on ourselves.
You don’t have to quit your job, sell your house and go live in a forest to offer yourself stress relief (and anyway the financial implications of such a move will probable cause more stress than anything else!). Instead, focus on creating little routines in your day to help relieve stress.

As sleep is crucial to our mental and physical health, I would recommend starting with a bedtime ritual to help you get a good night’s sleep. Once you are used to that, you can look into your daily schedule and finding time to fit in some more relaxing activities.

So, how can we use the five senses (and gateways to stress) to create a relaxing bedtime ritual? Here are my tips:

Sight

BULB-ANIMATION2-1024x576If you are like most people and work in an office, chances are that by the end of the day your eyes are tired from looking at a screen all day. So it is important to give them a break from screen glaring and squinting (due to inappropriate lighting contrasts). Make sure your bedside lamp emits and orange-yellow light as white light suppresses the production of melatonin – your body’s sleep-inducing hormone.

Of course, you should put away all screen devices and try reading something in print instead. If reading is not your thing why not try the new trending of colouring. It has been proven that colouring has similar relaxation effects to meditation by allowing us to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and focus on the moment. Dr. Stan Rodski, a neuropsychologist who also happens to be the author of his own line of adult colouring books, conducted a study which found that colouring affects our heart rate and brainwave activity.

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If you’re really not a fan of reading or colouring, another option would be to listen rather than watch.

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Now, although you may have heard about meditation a lot of times, if you’re like me, mediation seems like some mystical power which only the shamans from some Nepalese mountain can master. And although meditation can take years of practice, there is an easy way to get started.¬†There are countless YouTube videos and other audio sources¬†which can help ease your mind through guided meditation. An alternative are podcasts – from inspirational Ted talks to educational episodes on health & fitness, there is something for everyone. I find listening to a health podcast and doing a bit of colouring simultaneously to be of great help before going to bed.

Smell

Another thing I really like to do during my bedtime routine is sprinkle my pillow with lavender oil. There are so many benefits of lavender oil, but it is most well-known for its relaxing properties. This calming scent has been proven to relax the nervous system, reduce restlessness and to protect against neurological damage. On days I have headaches I use a lavender oil mix to massage my temples and forehead which helps to ease the pain (*never apply pure essential oils directly to your skin, always use a mixing/base oil to dilute these powerful oils).

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Touch

Massaging your temples, whether with lavender oil mix or not is also a great relaxation technique. Both physical and mental stress often result in tight muscles (e.g. teeth clenching can hurt your neck & jaws). Therefore, massaging your face and even ears can be of great help to release tension. Did you know that the edges of the ears have have tiny reflex points that can relax specific areas of your body?

Of course, we are not able to give ourselves full massages, however we can relax any muscle in the body by first tensing that specific muscle and then releasing it. A good way to do this is to start from your toes, focusing your mind just on this body part, squeezing it for a few minutes before completely relaxing the muscle and letting it ‘sink into the bed’. You then move upwards to your shins & calves, all the way up to your face.

Taste

Finally the last sense through which a lot of stress comes in, but can also serve as a de-stressor is our mouth. The foods we eat can cause physical stress to the body – unhealthy foods often cause inflammation in the digestive system which is perceived by our bodies as stress. But it is not only the type of foods we eat, meal timings and portions are also important.

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If you are the type of person who can’t fall asleep when hungry or wakes up in the middle of the night starving, and you do not have any digestive problems, then you should consider having a bedtime meal. There are certain foods (and drinks)which help your body relax¬†if eaten 30-60 minutes before¬†you go to sleep. These include¬†yogurt, milk, oats, bananas, poultry, eggs, peanuts and tuna as they all contain good amounts of tryptophan.

“Tryptophan is used by the body to make niacin, a B vitamin that is important for digestion, skin and nerves, and serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that plays a large role in mood) and can help to create a feeling of well-being and relaxation.” – WebMD

Also if you enjoy tea, there are plenty of herbal infusions that can be very soothing. Chamomile, valerian, lavender and lemon balm teas are just a few you can choose from.

So here you are: 5 senses – 5 steps to your bedtime relaxation ritual. Dedicate at least 30 minutes before going to bed to have a snack, read, relax your muscles and take some deep breaths inhaling the lavender oil on your pillow. Trust me, your body will thank you!

WW

Motivation

Inside the Mind of an Athlete

Taking your hobby or passion to a professional level is not easy. Apart from the increased demands on your time, energy and money, there’s also increased pressure on your grey matter.

Doing a competition of any sort is stressful. Just the demands of training and meticulous nutrition planning are enough to bring a generally sane person to tears. Of course having a full-time job doesn’t make it any easier!

And that is why it is important to not only train your body but your mind as well. Being a mental ninja is essential for anyone considering to compete. There will be ups and downs. There will be obstacles and challenges. There will be struggle and days where you feel the whole world is against you. But you need to be able to face your fears and insecurities full on.

  
Many elite athletes are thought how to to build mental toughness because no matter how skilled and experienced you may be a speck of self-doubt can be the difference between winning and losing.

There are several elements to mental toughness – confidence, focus, composure/control and commitment are just a few. Your confidence levels should remain more or less consistent regardless of outside influences. You need to trust your skills and believe in your ability to perform well – this will help you build and keep your confidence (yup, time to have some internal conversations – convince yourself that you are capable of achieving your goal!)

Focus is necessary not only during your competition but also during training. Focus on your end goal, perform during practice as if you were to perform during your competition. And then, on the big day itself, focus in the moment to perform at your best and avoid distractions (whether from the audience, other competitors or that little voice in your head!).

A good way to help you focus during a competition is to remind yourself what your role (during the competition) is and to predict the possible distractions, then choose a refocusing statement to help you overcome these distractions. For instance, it could be a question such as “What should I be focusing on right now?” Or “What would the best athlete do in this situation?” It could also be a single word, such as “tough” or “confident”. Remember, no one is perfect when it comes to staying focused, yet everyone has the ability to refocus.

  
Staying composed in times of errors and adversities is also an important aspect for competitors. Everybody makes mistakes, but not everyone will notice your mistakes. Learn to anticipate challenges and think how you can cope with them. Prepare yourself for adversity – don’t plan out the competition to go according to your perfect scenario, but think of all the ways things could turn out. This will help you be mentally prepared to face unexpected challenges and to handle setbacks (believe me, there will be some… And then some more!). However, having some sort of a plan B will ease your mental stress and allow you to remain cool and in control.

Finally, as an athlete you need to be committed. You must refuse to give up. You must also know why you are competing – is your reason a strong enough motivating force to pull you through all the challenges ahead? Learn to see adversities as challenges rather that threats. Consistency is key – aim to maintain a consistent level of effort and remember your end goal is to win!

What does this all mean? To win any competition your mental game has to be strong. You have to have a lot of positive qualities (focus, persistence, self-belief) to your mindset. This will help you perform at your best, despite the high amount of internal & external stress.

  
As they say, the darkest hour is before dawn.
Good luck!

WW