Reframing Your Resolutions for Success


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Have you ever been your own worst critic, especially at this time of year when it comes to your new years resolution about losing that fat that’s crept up on you and got you in that immovable bear hug? How many times have you made that same resolution, made some progress then got distracted, injured, fed up, pissed of, bored, confused with all the hype and bullshit out there and then completely de-motivated?

Trying harder is often not the solution. Making resolutions from a place of mixed emotions such as guilt, shame etc, and from a state of confusion will always end in failure. The way to make a resolution that will actually work is to let all that negative shit go for a while and work on forgiving yourself for being where you are and accepting you for who you are right now. Once you reach this point you can dive back in to pursuing what you desire for yourself. But if you want to succeed, it has to come from a place of compassion.

I don’t like using the word goal these days, it’s far too corporate, clinical and not particularly motivating. I much prefer the word desire. When you focus in what you desire it generates very different emotions, feelings and thought processes and these are much more capable of developing the behaviours and habits that will get you tow what you desire.

Now I am very well aware that this may be a completely alien concept to you and that you may feel that this is easier said than done. Finding self-compassion can be quite a challenge at first, particularly if you are used to kicking your own arse when you don’t achieve what it is your set yourself, and the idea of forgiving yourself for being in the same situation time after time seems ridiculous. Yet while it might take a lot more self-reflection and exploration than counting calories and drinking green juices, compassion and forgiveness are the hidden keys to successful achievement in any area of your life. Here’s a few top tips.

1. Be compassionate towards yourself and find acceptance of where you’re at.
Begin by identifying the area where you’re stuck or dissatisfied in your life and approach it with compassion. This step can be difficult for people who feel sure that shame about their weight was the only thing standing in the way of gaining more weight.

It takes a lot of courage, patience, and self-reflection to release and reframe the belief that self-shaming is helping you stay in control. If you’re struggle with this, I strongly encourage you to honestly examine how that tactic has worked for you so far. Has it really helped you reach your desired result? If your answer is no, then are you ready to try something new?

2. Cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself.
Once you’re able to embrace compassion instead of shame, it’s time for the most important step: Explore ways that you can reframe your situation and forgive yourself for being where you are right now. While reframing looks different for everyone, it can sometimes be painful and anchored with emotional baggage. Be prepared to face your demons and don’t be afraid to reach out for support during this phase.

Reframing in this context requires two things: acceptance of the objective facts and willingness to subjectively reframe those facts in a more self-loving way. People often think they’re accepting the facts when they apply guilt and shame for where they’re at, but they’re not.

First of all be crystal clear about the actual facts. Separate your subjective stories (for instance, “I’m lazy and need to get in shape”) from the facts (“This is my body today”) and work to accept the literal truth of where you are. Don’t be surprised if your objective list is short: You are here, in this body, right now. Try looking in the mirror every morning and repeating to yourself, “This is what I look like today.”

You also need to reframe the subjective stories you tell yourself about how you got here, why you’re here, and what that means about who you are. The story you’ve believed so far is entirely subjective, it is just the reality that you’ve created to justify it to yourself, and must be rewritten to be kinder and more self-loving. It can be helpful to talk to people who love you. Tell them what you’re working on reframing and ask for their help.

3. Ask yourself, “What if this were a gift?”
I know this sounds completely mad, how could an extra 20 pounds be a gift? Bear with me here for a moment as you search for the gift in your struggle. You might be surprised to find that staying stuck has protected you from something you weren’t yet ready to handle, or that the change you’ve been trying to make actually goes against one of your highest values. Do you know what your core values are? Check out my free PDF that will take you step by step through the process of figuring them out.

How To Achieve Your Desired Goals

How to Feel Great Even When You’ve Gained Weight
After weeks of contemplation and journaling, a client of mine came to me one day with an answer to that question. She told me that the extra weight she carried protected her from unwanted male attention, and that she was absolutely terrified of what would happen if she lost it and became (in her words) “traditionally attractive.” She also said that other women saw her as non-threatening, because she wasn’t skinny. The weight had helped attract a great number of kind and supportive women into her life. In short, those 20 pounds truly were a gift, and her subconscious was reluctant to part with them.

This is how rewriting your personal story gives you the opportunity to forgive yourself. Mt client began to see that no matter how hard she tried to lose weight, she was always going to fail, because she valued safety and connection too highly.

No matter what your guilt ridden resolution might be, I assure you there is a very good reason you haven’t accomplished it, yet. There always is. Once you find that reason, you will also find compassion and forgiveness and be able to see what really needs to be done in order to move forward. For my client, that work meant learning to feel comfortable and safe in her own skin, healing from an old trauma that made her believe male attention was dangerous, and trusting that losing weight wouldn’t drive away the female connections she valued so deeply.

Compassion and forgiveness aren’t only useful for getting you unstuck; you can also use them to help you set goals from the get-go. Ask yourself what gift your habit has been and offer yourself a replacement before attempting your goal.

Take smoking as an example. If smoking offers you stress relief and common ground with friends, you’re going to need to adopt some new habits to fight stress and social awkwardness before your subconscious will let go of smoking.

By goal-setting from a place of compassion, forgiveness, acceptance and understanding, you’ll be armed with the right tools that you need to actually succeed and achieve what you desire.

If you’re still struggling with reframing then by all means get in touch with me and we can figure it out together, just drop me an email on simon@simonmaryan.com to arrange a time.

Simon

Physical and Mental Strength


Courage and Determination

I’m fortunate because my work involves physical and mental coaching and training, which is a lot of fun and gives me variety from day to day. I also have the huge privilege of seeing my clients lives change over time and sometimes in a very short space of time, which is amazing to see.

I had a suggestion given to me just recently about offering virtual live training via Facebook use their Live Streaming facility and this really intrigued me as to how I can make this work. So, I set up a closed FB Group to keep it completely private for everyone that subscribes and have posted videos of two circuits so far that include lots of little psychological tips.

These days I find shorter more intense physical training suits me better than long drawn out sessions. Partly because I get bored easily and can’t be bothered with spending a long time training, unless it’s out for a long walk in the hills. Also because my body can’t hack it either, I really struggle with long training sessions. So, the other day I recorded a demo session of a full body circuit that I concocted that ticks all the boxes for me. It takes about 20 minutes to complete, it involves muscular strength and stamina, it gets my heart rate up providing me with a good cardiovascular workout and it’s intense, it hurts and it forces me to push myself when it hurts to stick to the time limit I set myself for it.

I’ve tarted the video up so it’s not just the raw basic video from my phone camera and I hope you find it useful and that you test out the circuit for yourself too.

This is one of my favourite circuits at the moment, it is a real test of determination to get it finished within the time frame and it works your entire body, and I can still do it with my limited range of movement in my left shoulder.

Be prepared to sweat, a lot when you do this. It is my favourite Friday circuit because it means I empty my tank before the weekend starts and I can eat a little bit of all the things I may have craved throughout the week and eat them guilt free.

Try it out and let me know how you get on and how you adapt it with your own interesting additions.

There’s More to Maintaining Your Ideal Body than Just Input and Output


For some reason, even with all the science and information available out there, diet and exercise are still the main focus of attention when it comes to fat loss. The thing is as important a part as they do play in the process, it’s just not as simple as “burn more calories than you consume.” I still meet people on a regular basis who live by this misguided rule, now I’m not saying it doesn’t work, however, it generally only works in the short to medium term, not indefinitely. It’s an outdated model because there’s so much more to fat loss than just diet and exercise.

During my research and development for my book I discovered a number of things that, when factored into your fat loss and maintenance programme, make a huge difference in your ability to achieve and hold onto your desired outcome. So here I want to share with you four key elements that I drill into all my clients from day one to ensure that they continue to make progress.

Sleeping Baby

1. Quality Deep Restorative sleep. Sleep Like a Baby.
Now I know some of you may be thinking, what is he on about, sleep is sleep. Well there is a big difference and there is a common misunderstanding about sleep, and that is how much do we need and also that it should be constant sleep throughout the night. When we sleep we go through different depths during a 90 minute cycle called the ‘Ultradian Rhythm’. What this means is that we drift off into a light sleep, drop down into REM or Dream Sleep and then into Deep Restorative Sleep and this is where your brain and body recharge, repair and restore themselves. Without this quality deep restorative sleep we can wake up more tired than when we went to bed because we have been dreaming too much and never getting into that deep sleep. When we remain in that light sleep and REM sleep states we can be interrupted by our dreams and by outside noises that bring us up into conscious awareness and break that natural sleep pattern. I want you to understand that this is a normal part of the cycle and it is why we don’t have 7-8 hours of completely uninterrupted sleep, we wake up and go back to sleep a few times throughout the night. What is really important is that we go into the Deep Restorative Sleep state and recharge, repair and restore. This is why sleep is one of the first things I discuss with a new client, because it really is that important.

If you’re really serious about optimising your health and/or losing fat, then you really need to pay more attention to your sleep patterns and habits and make changes here first before doing anything else in order to get maximum benefit from your training and nutrition.

If my client’s fat loss stalls and/or they’re losing momentum and energy, I don’t start analysing their nutrition plan or increasing their exercise frequency or intensity. I look at their sleep quality and quantity, and their chronic stress level to see where we can make some changes.

As a society we are chronically sleep-deprived and over-stressed. Individually these elements can cause severe health problems and hinder fat loss. When you combine them they are disastrous for your overall health and your fat loss goals

Have you noticed that when you are exhausted you feel hungrier than usual? This is not your imagination. Not getting enough sleep affects leptin and ghrelin, which are  your hunger hormones.

A consistent lack of sleep will make you hungrier and much more impulsive, and you will have an almost insatiable craving for high-carbohydrate foods. This makes avoiding the muffins and cakes at the coffee shop or turning down the bacon rolls at the office a nearly impossible feat. Being chronically sleep-deprived also significantly elevates your cortisol levels  and insulin resistance and this affects your fat loss and your overall physical and mental health.

If this doesn’t make you want to go to bed a bit earlier, another reason is that adequate sleep is also crucial for cognitive function, maintaining a positive outlook, and having a steady supply of energy so that you can keep up with your kids, run around with your dog, lift heavier weights, run faster/longer and all the other active things you love to do.

Reflective Questions:
• Am I getting quality deep restorative sleep each night within an average of 7 hours sleep?
• If not, what am I prepared to change to ensure I get that quality sleep? (For example: Stop watching TV in bed. No phones, kindles, iPads etc in the bedroom at night to avoid the temptation to stay up interacting with social media)

Train Smart

2. Don’t Train Harder, Train Smarter. That Includes Variety.
When I was serving in the Royal Marines, particularly during basic training, I couldn’t eat enough because the amount of physical exercise was phenomenal. It was almost impossible to consume enough calories in a day to match my output. The same thing happened when I was racing in Triathlons, the problem was that it increased my appetite so much that all wanted I to do was eat and sometimes I simply didn’t have the time.

I finally understood a few years ago that high-intensity, steady-state exercise is not the best model for me, it turns me into a black hole for food. It was potentially far too easy for me to “out-eat” my training, which meant I was breaking even at best and running myself into the ground.

I recommend to my clients applying the Minimum Effective Dose Model to their training. Meaning, I totally understand that you love exercise and it’s important that you do just enough to elicit the desired results while keeping your hormones happy and your appetite in check.

For most people (who train regularly), this typically means two or three heavy strength-training days, one or two short-duration HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions, and no more than a couple of moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio sessions per week.
Getting too aggressive with exercise and doing an obscene amount of cardio, spending hours in the weight room each day, or doing two-a-day training sessions can lead to a voracious appetite, run down your immune system and lead to overtraining, which I’m guessing is probably not in line with your goals.

Reflective Questions:

  •  Is any type of exercise that I’m doing increasing my appetite to the point that it may be sabotaging, instead of supporting, my goals?
  •  What kind of exercise can I do instead to see how that makes me feel? (Example: Instead of running for 45 minutes, how about trying 15 minutes of intervals? Instead of that 60-minute Spin class, how about breaking it up into two 30-minute moderate-intensity cardio sessions throughout the week?)

Healthy eating

3. Eat Food That You Enjoy, Is Nutritious and Fills you Up.
When you think of fat loss, do you think it means eating the same boring foods, every day? Chicken breast, sweet potato, broccoli, egg whites, oats, and protein powder, day in and day out?

This absolutely can work because there’s nothing nutritionally wrong with it, in fact it’s full of great nutrients. What I can promise you is this. It won’t work for long, unless you actually love to eat like this and truly feel satisfied. Generally we can only tolerate so much bland, boring food that we don’t necessarily enjoy before we frantically wave the white flag and dive into a pile of junk food, never to return to it again…until the next time we want to lose fat!!

The key to making  your nutrition a sustainable part of your lifestyle is to ensure that you love what you’re eating. You have to enjoy your food in order to be satisfied and for me food is meant to be enjoyed. If you force down a meal that you hate because someone told you or you read somewhere that this is the way to lose fat, there is a high probability that you’ll be raiding your cupboards and fridge afterward for something to satisfy your palate.

Emjoy your meal

Fortunately on the Internet, there are millions of recipes right at your fingertips. While it may take you 20 minutes to bake a week’s worth of bland chicken breasts, it would only take you an additional few minutes to whip up a tasty sauce for them, try a new seasoning blend, or another way of cooking them. You can bake, broil, roast, slow cook, grill, steam, or sauté your food into an explosion of flavour with just a tiny bit more thought and effort. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Reflective Questions:

  • Am I currently eating foods I can’t stand but eat them anyway because I feel like I’m “supposed” to?
  • What can I do to those foods, or what can I substitute, to make eating an enjoyable experience again?
  • Can I spare an extra 20 minutes per day to improve the taste of my food? ( The answer is yes by the way.)

4. Choose the Right Form of and Amount of Cardio.
Cardio is a funny thing. For a while, it’s all many people wanted to do. Thankfully, times have changed and in particular, women have embraced the empowering feeling and advantages of strength training. The only downside to that is that cardio has started to get kicked to the curb to a degree. Cardio, like most forms of exercise, can be a wonderful tool when used correctly.
Is cardio necessary for everyone who wants to get leaner? Not really. But if you find that you’re a bit stuck, incorporating a couple of sessions per week could help.

Moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio is a way to burn calories, sure. More importantly, it improves work capacity, which can mean improved training. It can also aid in recovery from your strength workouts.

This is not a pass for a cardio free-for-all. Whatever form of cardio you choose, please make sure you’re doing the type that keeps stress low and your hunger under control.

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Reflective Questions:

  • What kind of cardio do I enjoy most? Walking, biking, cycling, swimming, rowing, running?
    Can I spare 20 minutes 2-3 times a week to incorporate some moderate-intensity cardio?
  • Am I prepared to do fasted cardio (train before eating to boost your fat burning capabilities) in the morning?
  • How did that cardio make me feel? Do I feel in control of my appetite? Do I feel energised? If the answer to those questions is yes, stick with it for a few weeks and see what changes you notice.

As you can see, when it comes to fat loss, there is more to the equation than simply restricting food intake and doing more exercise. If you find yourself stuck and not making any progress, take a look at these four things and see if making a few changes can help push you forwards and out of your rut.

As always, making changes in  your body begins with making changes in your brain in terms of how you think about and perceive all the different elements required to achieve your aim. Without starting with your brain and mind, you are almost certainly going to fail backwards at some point and have to start again and fall foul of the Yo-Yo process that millions of us get trapped in year after year.

One last but important note: Once you make a change, stick with it for at least four weeks, and then evaluate your progress before making any more changes.

For more advice and to find out about my Lifestyle Coaching Program that works your from the top down so that you make the changes in your brain/mind first setting you on the right path, with the right mindset right from the beginning, you can email me directly  at simon@simonmaryan.com

Have a fantastic weekend

Simon