Category Archives: Self Development

New Book/Audio CD: The Power

About 2 years ago I wrote about the Law Of Attraction and the book/film, The Secret.  They’ve recently released a new book/audio CD, called “The Power”.  Here’s a rather dramatic trailer for it:

The Secret & The Power are about focusing on what you want and sending out positive thoughts into the universe to attract what you want into your life.  As I said before, I’m not sure about that explanation of it.  However, The Secret/The Power teaches people to focus on what they want and there is an undeniable benefit of focusing on what you want.  The central theme of The Secret is focusing on what we want rather than what we don’t want (for example: I WANT to be slim, rather than I DON’T WANT to be fat).  The sub-conscious mind will find ways to work on what you focus on and bring it about.  It will do this whether you focus on being slim or being fat (even if that focus is “I don’t want *****, you are still focusing on it and the sub-conscious will tend to find ways to fulfill it).

This idea of focusing on what you do want (rather than what you don’t want) is central in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programing) which is much more science based, but uses the same working principles as The Secret. NLP talks about tapping into the sub-conscious mind to make it work for you whilst The Secret talks about tapping into universal energy.  Either way, the actual practice of focusing on what you want is very similar.

The Power goes a step further and teaches that you should “love” more.  What more positive way to focus on what you want; whether it is money, companionship, sporting success, school work, career; than to try to love it.

Although some people may have reservations about the actual explanation of how it works, NLP has shown that it does work.  I will say though, that when things are not going quite right, it is difficult to focus on what you want, rather than worry about bills, the boss being cross, the kids getting into trouble, etc, etc.  The Secret/The Power does package the whole thing in a way that is much more motivating than just trying to rationalise it on your own.  I would recommend it.

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Mental Power-Dressing

How many of us would go to an interview for a professional job in t-shirt and jeans?  The phrases, “dress for success” and “power-dressing” are very well known.  However, all of us know intuitively that how we dress does not directly effect our capabilities or make us do a better job, but we still feel better when we dress the part. 

Our pagan ancestors and primitive tribes often adorned themselves with furs or sometimes even skulls of power animals, believing that they capture some of the spirit or essence of that animal.  It is basically the same thing, power-dressing.

There is an Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique that takes this a stage further.  NLP believes that the unconscious mind is very powerful and controls most of our behavioural patterns.  Yet conscious exercises can actually train our unconscious mind to help us achieve behavioural patterns that are more beneficial to our goals and our success in life.  Hence we can change unhelpful behavioural patterns for positive ones.

One of these exercises is to first set yourself a goal(s) and allocate a time period for achieving that goal(s).  Then picture yourself, standing in front of you, at the end of that time period having achieved your goals.  Form a picture in your mind of how happy you will be having achieved your goals. 

How will you be standing?  Does your posture indicate success, with you head head high and your back straight and proud with your chest out? 

What will you be wearing (especially for financial/business goals)?  Do you have a new tailored suit indicating more money/promotion, are you in wedding dress/suit if your goal was romantic, are you in beach wear if your goal was to be able to afford a holiday?  Make the picture as strong as you can, imagine the accessories you might have, maybe a new hair style to go with it.

bride-carrying-groomImagine what it would feel like to have all your friends, family, workmates, whoever looking at you with new found respect and admiration for achieving your goal.  If you plan to be somewhere like a new office (promotion), holiday location, church (wedding), or whatever is relevant to your goals, try to see your new surroundings.  Try to hear the sounds that you might hear and smell the scents that might be there. 

Make the whole picture in your mind as powerful, as bright and as colourful as you can.  Make it life size and moving.  Use your imagination to use as many of your senses as you can.  Now taking in this splendid picture of yourself with all your senses stimulated, step forward into where this image of yourself is standing and turn around as if you are putting on this picture of you.  Feel the feelings of success (whatever success means to you personally).

This is why I call it mental power dressing.  Whereas real clothes have no direct effect on your abilities but make you feel the part; this type of exercise allows you feel the success that you want to achieve.  Actually “feeling” that success makes it more obtainable to the unconscious mind.  It will help the unconscious mind to change your behavioural patterns to other patterns more in line with your goals.  With the changed patterns comes a greater chance of success.

Finally, remember that success is a personal thing.  You don’t have to set goals for great riches or promotion to be successful.  If your goal is to live in seclusion on a mountain side and feed the birds every day and you achieve it, then you are a success.  Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t let others dictate what you should think of as successful.

Health Habits: The Douglas Robb Interview

Douglas Robb runs a very successful blog called Health Habits, giving advice on health, diet and fitness. As well as being very informative, his writing style is relaxed and humorous which is why it is one of my favourite blogs and is on my Blogroll.

Health Habits is well subscribed to with many people contributing with comments and despite being less than a year old it has achieved a Google Page Rank of “5”, which I find incredible in that time frame. So I asked Douglas if he would consent to doing an interview for me, which he kindly consented to do.  So without any further ado, here is the interview:

 

CW: Douglas, can you tell me a bit about your background and experience in the health and fitness field? 

DR: Professionally, I have been a personal fitness trainer since 2000.

However, I have been designing training and nutrition programs for family, friends and friends of friends since 1988.

While at university, I designed training programs for the members of the wrestling, swimming, football and basketball teams.

After university, I continued helping others strictly as a hobby. During that time, I helped young athletes trying to earn university sports scholarships, amateur bodybuilders get ready for competitions and lots and lots of people trying to drop 20 pounds of excess weight.

As we approached the year 2000, I became more and more dissatisfied with the work I was doing and found myself spending more and more of my spare time helping others transform their bodies.  I was also spending more time researching more effective ways to help people make those changes.

After a few months of soul searching, I retired from the 9 to 5 world, became a certified personal trainer and went to work in a gym.

Over the next few years, I moved from gym to gym, trying to find a place where personal trainers were encouraged to actually make a difference in their clients’ lives.  This was not an easy task.

As an example, in my last position, clients were paying $140 per session to work with me.  I was being paid $45 per session and the health club was keeping $95 per session. It was all about making money.  In fact, personal training is by far the biggest money maker for health club industry.

The final straw came when the original gym owner decided to sell the business and bounce my last 2 pay checks.  And the new owners had no intention to honour this debt.  So, I left the gym to start my own personal training company…along with 9 of my favourite clients.

Fast forward to 2008…I am running a in-home personal training company with 4 of the best personal trainers that I have ever seen. My business is based purely on word of mouth and we are growing every day.

Earlier this year, I decided to give back to the universe (Sorry if that sounds a little too Oprah-like) by starting a health / fitness blog.

Health Habits

Health Habits is my attempt to teach others how to transform their bodies without spending thousands of dollars on books, videos, gym memberships and personal trainers.

Even though I still believe that a good personal trainer can be worth their weight in gold.

CW: I was interested that in your “About” page you not only deal with physical fitness and nutrition, but you also deal with mental and emotional health.  Is mental and emotional health a very big part of your service, or just occasionally when required? 

DR: The mental / emotional side of the equation is much more important than the physical / nutrition side. Everybody that comes to me “wants” to make some sort of change.  Lose 20 pounds, get stronger, get faster, increase their energy or simply to increase their fitness.  However, most of them want to do this without having to make any significant changes in their lives.

Getting them to commit to making significant life changes requires a little bit of mental manipulation.  I need to find the button that needs pushing.  But when I do, the client becomes extremely self motivated, my job becomes much easier and changes start to happen.

CW: What kind of emotional and mental health support/treatment do you provide (or recommend)? 

DR: Keeping in mind, that I am not a psychiatrist/psychologist, I employ a variety of techniques.  Most of these are based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CW: One of the things that I have always enjoyed about your blog is that you use a lot of humour.  Do you find that humour helps to motivate and inspire your clients? 

DR: Most definitely.

Let’s face it, most of my clients don’t exercise because they want to, but because they need to.  They are paying me to push their bodies much, much harder than they ever would.  Most of them find exercise boring.

Humour is one of the tools I use to keep their minds off of the boredom, the sweat, the pain, etc…

CW: When it comes to nutrition, do you believe in taking supplements, or do you feel that a well balanced diet will suffice? 

DR: If you are in decent physical fitness, get adequate exercise, sunlight, rest and eat a healthy diet, supplements are not necessary.

However, I don’t know anyone who does all of these things.

As a result, most people need to supplement their diet with a ‘good’ multivitamin / multimineral supplement.  Some people need to go a little further than this.  For these people, I have them get some blood tests done to look for deficiencies.

I also recommend that people try to eat more organic/free range produce and protein.

My athletes get a little more involved in the supplement side of the equation.  All of them supplement with creatine.

CW: Your blog gives a lot of advice on losing weight.  Obviously there are a number of factors involved, but what do you believe is the most important factor of all? 

DR: The type of food that they eat.

Obviously, the amount of food is important, but my experience tells me that calorie counting becomes irrelevant when the right food choices are made.

CW: When creating a nutritional plan for a client, how different would it be for somebody who is aiming to be very fit compared with somebody simply aiming to lose weight? 

DR: Not much different. I recommend the highest quality fuel for all of my clients.

On this diet, an overweight & unfit client will lose fat, build muscle and improve the functioning of their internal environment.

A fit client will not see the same drastic outward changes as they are already closer to their genetic potential.
 

CW: What different generic types of exercises do you prescribe to support weight loss as opposed to maximum fitness?  

DR: I prefer to have my clients focus on movements rather than bodyparts. This goes for my Average Joe clients and my Athlete clients.

Their are certain movements that we all perform in our day to day activities. These movements require different muscles to work together as a team. When we break our bodies into separate parts in our exercise programs, we are re-training our bodies to move. This can be good or bad.

If I am helping someone re-hab an injury or am trying to correct an existing muscle imbalance, I will use specific exercises. However, once I have those issues addressed, I prefer to improve the functioning of my clients’ bodies by improving their ability to perform the movements that they need to do every day.

CW: Many people as they get old mature, get problems with their joints.  Having Creaky Knee Syndrome myself, what do you recommend (either exercise or supplements) for people with this problem? 

DR: Look for muscular / structural imbalances in your body.  Get someone to take some polaroids of you standing still – from the front, rear and both sides (sorry, but the less clothing, the better).  Then look at how you stand. Is one shoulder higher than the other?  Are your toes turned out? What about your arms? From the side, look at your lower back and pelvis. Look at the curves in your back.

Imbalances result in pain.  Pain causes your body to adapt.  It adapts by shifting the load and creating new imbalances. It’s quite a vicious circle.
 

CW: I find when I have been off training for a long time, my knee swells up when I restart.  However, with persistence and not pushing too hard, it normally gets better after a while as the knee get used to it again.  Do you think it is a good idea to “work through” these weaknesses or is it likely to cause long term damage?   

DR: Look for the imbalance.  Why is the pain there?

A lot of runners have issues with swelling on the lateral / outside of their knees. If this is the case, you may want to look at some soft tissue therapy on your IT band. I would need to have you do a few tests to be sure, but it is a pretty typical problem.

If you can fix it, fix it. If not, you have to decide if it’s worth it to push through the pain. Are you going to make things worse?

I have bad knees. Both have been completely re-built.

I used to love to run. But, if I go running today, I can guarantee that my knees will be swollen for the next 2 days. However, I can exercise my heart by skiing, cycling, rollerblading, etc…without killing my knees.

So, as much as I love to run, I have made the decision to hang up my runners and hop on the bike.
   

CW: How would you advise people with serious illnesses like cancer or heart disease, who still want to be very active in exercising?  And do you find that they need more emotional support than most other people? 

DR: Unless your health is going to suffer from an exercise, people NEED to get out an move.  Our bodies were not built to sit and stare at a computer monitor.  We are physical.

They will need to design their fitness program in a way that helps them reduce the symptoms of their specific condition if possible.

When it comes to emotional support, my experience tells me that people struggling with an illness need to know that they can do it. I know it sounds like a Nike ad, but hopelessness in the face of illness is a very real thing. If they believe that they are doomed, they are. If they believe that they can turn things around, they just may be able to.

CW: So you think that people with serious illnesses should exercise (assuming that they are capable). What kinds of benefits do you think they will get from it?

DR: Yes…They can expect to receive physical benefits like improved cardio-vascular fitness, reduced body-fat, improved strength and co-ordination. But more importantly, they can improve their mental outlook. As their body strengthens or resists the assault of their disease, they should feel better about themselves and their chances of beating their illness.

CW: Douglas, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview and for your insightful answers.

The Law Of Attraction

There has been much discussion about the “Law Of Attraction”, especially over the last couple of years since the release of the cult DVD “The Secret“.

So what is the Law Of Attraction and how does it work.  Well basically, it says that the more you focus on something, the more of it you get.  In The Secret it talks of how the rich elite have passed down “the secret” to each other for thousands of years, which only now is being passed on to the masses.  That secret is that the more you focus on something, you send out brainwaves and thought energy into the universe, which in turn will attract more of the same energy back into your life.

I will admit that I have some trouble with that explanation of the Law Of Attraction.  However, I did read that in one big city an experiment was conducted with a big group of experience meditators.  They meditated and focused on peace and (allegedly) the crime rate went down in that city.  I’m not convinced, but I’ll keep an open mind!

However, in Nuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), practitioners have been applying the practice of focusing on what you want for decades.  Lets say you want to “give up smoking”.  Your unconscious mind does not recognise negatives (“give up”, “stop”, “quit”) and will simply focus on “smoking”.  That is why it can be so hard to give something up (because you keep focusing on it).

If my daughter is sullen, I sometimes tell her, “whatever you do, don’t smile”.  The brain does not recognise the negative and she just can’t help but having to smile (which makes her even more cross with me).

If you were to go to an NLP practitioner, they try to help you to find the answer for yourself rather than to tell you (human nature is to take it more seriously if you feel it is your idea).  So the conversation would probably go something like this:

You:            I want to give up smoking.
NLP guy:     Good, what do you REALLY want.
You:            To give up smoking.
NLP guy:     But why do you want to give up smoking.
You:           Well, to be healthier.
NLP guy:    And how would you know that you were healthier.
You:           Well if I had more stamina and energy.
NLP guy:    So your real goal is to have more stamina and energy?
You:           Errrrr.  Yes.

That is very simplified, but you can see how a negative focus of quitting smoking and been turned around to be a positive focus of having more stamina and well-being.  If you focus on the stamina and well-being you will not be thinking so much about the smoking, so it will be easier to give it up. 

You can apply this to many things:

I want to lose weight . . . . . I want to look goood in my new clothes.
I want to get out of debt . . . . . I want to be rich/well off.
I don’t want to mess up the interview . . . . . I want to impress them.
I really don’t want look silly . . . . . I want to excel (or, I want to fit in).
I don’t want to fail that exam . . . . . I want to do well at that exam.

Many people experience ideas “just popping out of nowhere”.  Not true, they pop out of the unconscious mind.  So how do you get the unconscious mind to produce the results you want?  By focusing the conscious mind on WHAT YOU DO WANT (not what you don’t want).  When you focus the conscious mind on the WHAT, the unconscious mind will work on the HOW.

This is why visualisation is a very important tool.  Visualisation is simply one method of focusing the conscious mind.   If you have money problems it is difficult not to worry, but if you focus on debt, that is what you unconscious mind will work on.  If you focus on being rich (or at least better off), then your unconscious mind will pop up ideas (hopefully legal) of how you might be able to earn a bit more money (either by being better at your job, or some little enterprise on the side).

This is the true secret and the true Law Of Attraction and it is not new.  However, if you accept the teaching of the DVD The Secret (sending out thought energy) as a metaphor and focus the conscious mind, then I think it is probably the best presentation of how to apply this concept that I have seen.  I don’t agree with the explanation of how it works, but it is great for showing the principle of the Law of Attraction (focusing on what you want).

Famous motivational speakers and authors like Paul McKenna and Anthony Robins (both of whom I’d recommend) are high level NLP practitioners, so if you have followed any of their works then you may recognise some of what I have said above in their teachings.

I Can Make You Thin!

Well not me actually, but that is the claim of Paul McKenna in his book entitled . . . . . you guessed it . . . “I Can Make You Thin”.  Now this book has been around for a while but it is surprising how many people do not know about it.  It is not about counting calories, exercising, matching food type to body types, healthy eating or even about what you actually eat.

There’s not much left then, what is it about Charlie?

I’m glad you asked me that!

Have you noticed how some people seem to eat whatever they like and however much they like and still stay thin?  There’s a word for people that.  It’s “bastard”!

Only kidding.

Some people have a faster metabolism and get away with eating what most of us can only envy.  But although some people may have naturally fast or naturally slot metabolisms, it can be sped up.  This is where my mate Paul McKenna comes in. 

First of all, Paul is a hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner and lifestyle coach.  He is famous in the UK, but I don’t know how well known he is in other countries.  His reasoning is that with many diets and eating patterns, our body can react accordingly.  If we overeat and don’t exercise then obviously we are likely to gain weight.  But also, when we don’t eat enough, or if we skip meals or go hungry to keep down the calories, then our bodies tend to think that there is a shortage on and go into a kind of “famine” mode.  That means that the body will store whatever it can because it does not know when it will be fed again.  Obviously this is a biological response, not a mental one.  This means that the more people diet and the more that they cut back, then the more that there bodies work against them and slow down the metabolism and stores what it can in the form of fat.

Paul’s approach is to re-train our eating habits so that our bodies think that there is an abundance of food whenever it wants it, so it does not need to store it as fat.  The metabolism will then speed up and burn it off more quickly.  His approach will initially sound like plain common sense.   But as the old saying goes, common sense isn’t very common and most of don’t do it.

Part 1, Eat Whenever You Feel Hungry
This will immediately feel strange to somebody used to missing meals or between meal snacks, but if you want your body to speed up its metabolism, then you need it to feel that food is abundant. 

Part 2, Stop When Full
Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but I for one was brought up with the idea of “don’t waste your food” and I was always encouraged to finish my plate (even if I became stuffed).  Paul’s mother used to say to him, there are people starving in India who would be glad to have that food, to which he comments, “so it will make them happier if I’m obese will it”?

Eating until we are over-full contributes a lot to weight gain; even if we only eat once a day (especially if we only eat once a day – see Part 1).

Part 3, Eat Consciously
Many of us rush our food.  Slow down.  When we eat fast, the brain releases endorphins which make us feel good.  That is the real pleasure that many people who eat fast get from their food . . . not the taste.  Stop what you are doing, don’t eat while watching TV or doing your work and make yourself conscious of what you are eating.  Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls.

When people start to do this, they realise that a lot of the junk food that they eat doesn’t actually taste that good and they start to actually prefer the taste of food that is good for them.  The body is very intuitive if you take the time to actually listen to it.

When the stomach becomes full there is a delay in it signaling this to the brain.  If you eat fast there is already more food on its way down before the brain knows that you are full, so you will end up bloated.  When you eat consciously (slowly), the stomach has the time to send messages to the brain to let it know that you are full, so you can stop eating sooner, before you become bloated.

Part 4, Eating Disorders
Paul also advices on how to overcome disorders such as binge eating and comfort eating.  I will confess that I am not so familiar with these problems not being a sufferer myself, but it is all in the book. 

I am a fan of Paul McKenna and would really recommend his book for anybody wanting to lose weight.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, until recently I was a carer and had a very busy life.  As such I rushed my meals so as to be able to meet the next need.  From now on I will be making an effort to apply the above principles.  The book comes with a hypnosis CD to help you as well.

For further information on weight loss matters, see the HealthyHabits blog which is very informative but with a touch of humour.

How Visualisation Techniques Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Many people practice goal setting to help them achieve what they want out of life and with good reason.  Studies have shown that those who practice goal setting are more likely to achieve higher, earn more and are generally happier than those that do not set goals.  Having clear written goals of what you want is definitely an advantage.

 

However, for many people it still doesn’t work.  They write their goals then don’t look at them again.  Or they don’t really know what to do when they have set their goals. 

 

A powerful extension to ordinary goal setting is visualisation. 

 

Consider this, when you watch an exciting or scary movie, you often find that your heart rate and breathing have both got faster.  Bearing in mind that you are safe in your home, you are comfortable in your chair, sipping on your beer (or whatever), you are with your friends/family and you are not doing any physical activity that could account for these physical reactions.  So why should you actually have a fearful response in what is usually your safest environment?

 

The reason why is because your mind is being stimulated in a certain way by the film and as your mind controls the body, then the body reacts accordingly.

 

So how can you harness this to get what you want? 

 

This is where visualisation comes in.  Basically, you run your own film in your head.  Whatever you want out of life (within reason), visualise it.  Try to see yourself as you want to be, hear what you would expect to hear, smell what you might smell and most importantly feel the emotions you would expect to feel.  This can (as with the scary film) bring about changes in your body.  If you are going for an interview, an exam, a business deal; visualise yourself as successfully completing it.  Try to feel the feelings of success, hear your family/boss/friends congratulate you. 

 

Obviously this will be of limited use for example if you are going into an interview where you don’t know the subject and have done no revision for it.  But whatever your level of preparedness if you do the visualisation exercise you will be more relaxed and more confident and less prone to freezing up or panicking.  You will project yourself better.

 

I once heard a story of a man who was a high flying, successful consultant who went into companies telling the Managing Director what he/she should be doing.  He was confident and used to visualise himself as being very big and the Managing Directors being very small and he would boom down to them in a big voice. 

 

But despite all this confidence, he was scared to ask a woman out for a date.  Why?  Because his visualisation for women was the he was small and they were big and booming down at him.  When he was taught to apply the same visualisation to women as he did to the Managing Directors, he became much more confident and started getting dates.

 

Even with your health, if you are worried about your condition then your body produces adrenaline and other stress related chemical.  These can actually damage the immune system over time.  If you visualise yourself and healthy and happy, then your brain releases endorphins which boost your immune system.  I don’t suggest that this will cure any conditions on its own, but it can help to give you an edge.

 

If anybody has a similar story of using visualisation, then please share it with us.