Eat to Live

Eat to Live.png

Like me, you may find losing weight difficult. Even when you are ‘in the zone’ and motivated to do it, you’re then baffled by the enormous amount of conflicting information out there about what you should be doing. Should I eat what I want but just in smaller quantities? Should I be counting calories? Should I be fasting? Is is normal to feel hungry all the time? Do I need to eat more protein? Am I supposed to be cutting out carbs? Should I eat three large meals and not snack in between, or eat more frequently but have tiny portions? Maybe my plate is too big? Perhaps the issue is eating at night? You get the idea. If you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve also attempted to answer most, if not all of these questions.

The good news is that Dr Joel Fuhrman answers all of these questions in his book ‘Eat to Live‘, which is designed for ‘fast and sustained weight loss’.  There are tons of diet books out there, I only read this one as I found it in a box when I moved; and put it on my bookshelf with a host of other books I had no real intention of reading. I have no idea where it came from or why I was drawn to read it when I did, but I’m glad I was. Let me give you three reasons why I enjoyed it and would recommend it to you:

  1. It’s not just a ‘get thin quick’ book, the focus is very much about nutritional information, education and promoting long term health
  2. Fuhrman condemns fad diets and explores a number of popular fads, giving his professional critique of them
  3. Facts, figures and explanations are provided, which give you the sense that Fuhrman has conducted extensive research before making his conclusions, rather than just presenting theories without the scientific evidence to back them up.

I’d like to think I’m reasonable intelligent, well educated and generally pretty socially aware, so if you’d asked me a month ago about nutrition I would have confidently told you what I ‘knew’. But it turns out there were some pretty significant things that I didn’t know and perhaps you don’t either. For instance:

  • Where do we get most of our protein from? Milk, cheese and meat right? Wrong.
  • If I need more fibre what should I be eating? Cereal, porridge and bread? Wrong.
  • What should my diet mainly consist of? A fairly even balance of carbs (bread/pasta/potatoes/rice), meat, fish and vegetables. Wrong again!

Fuhrman argues that the majority of our diet (yes most of what we eat) should be greens. We need fresh salad, raw vegetables & fruit (whole, not blended) and cooked vegetables, every day – and plenty of them! He suggests we avoid added sugar and salt, cut animal products out completely, or at least cut them down to a couple of servings per week max, and recommends we avoid refined carbohydrates altogether (white bread, pasta, cakes). We should also eat plenty of varieties of beans and a small amount of nuts and seeds daily.

There is so much I could pull from this book to tell you about but instead, I’ll just give you a few snippets and encourage you to get a copy yourself.

Fuhrman uses the equation Health = Nutrients/Calories to summarise how we should be eating, which sounds fancy, but essentially just translates to mean we should ensure everything we eat (all the calories we consume) are nutrient rich. If you’re consuming food with low – or no nutritional value, you’re consuming ’empty calories’. You’ll still be consuming calories, which can be used as energy, but the body is getting little or no benefit from them. Those consuming calories with a high nutrient content will be healthier. Period.

Fuhrman talks about the American diet (which I assume we can now broadly term the ‘Western diet’, as we all eat similarly) and how this is killing us. I mean literally killing us. He believes we need to prioritise prevention of the major diseases, rather than managing them or focusing on trying to cure them; and argues that most diseases like cancer and heart disease can be avoided it our diets are exceptionally good. The nutrients we get from fruits and vegetables keep us healthy. He’s not suggesting scoffing a load of salad is going to cure someone of cancer, but that if, over a long period of time (decades perhaps), you consistently eat healthfully, you can greatly improve your chances of avoiding these diseases (and various other ailments) from developing. Our bodies are clever, if we give them proper fuel they can use it effectively.

This isn’t about cramming in more fruit and veg around what we’re currently eating, or just removing elements of our diet like fried bacon and cakes. This is about replacing the majority of the things we currently eat with raw fruits and vegetables, salads and cooked vegetables. Having a token banana with your breakfast each day or choosing a salad over a pizza once a week is not what he’s recommending; it’s simple not significant enough, please be clear about this.

Twofold approach to sustained health
There are two main elements to consider:

  1. Understanding the incredible benefits of eating the right things and the dangers of not eating them
  2.  Understanding the significant repercussions of eating the wrong things.

Cancer
Apparently carcinogenesis (the development of cancer) involves ‘an accumulation of mutations or damage to our DNA‘, which happens over a long period of time. According to Fuhrman plant-derived nutrients can help to prevent (and sometimes even reverse) cell damage. When we’re consistently eating nutrient-rich food, our bodies have the ability to repair cell damage and our immune system is able to fight disease in general. He believes our bodies would do this naturally however they aren’t able to now because as a society, we’re simply not eating enough nutrient-rich food; and in turn we’re all getting increasingly sick as a result.

Assuming he’s right, it’s worrying to think that we all tend to say things like “It’s not that healthy but I’ll just eat one or two” or “It’s probably bad for me but I enjoy it” not really considering what we mean by ‘not that healthy’ or ‘bad’ and failing to truly understand the impact of this. If every time we hear or say ‘not that healthy’ we become accustomed to attributing that statement to a greater risk of cancer, heart attack or premature aging, perhaps it will seem less meaningless and trivial – and may help us change our patterns of behaviour.

If this is all true, why aren’t we told this?

Fuhrman gives some plausible suggestions as to why he believes why the government, health organisations etc. provide us with unhelpful and misleading information, for example the government and our schools promote a wildly inaccurate food pyramid, which encourages a high consumption of processed carbohydrates and animal products.  Fuhrman believes the government isn’t truthful with us as it’s under pressure to support the food production industry (e.g. dairy farmers) and that health organisations have the perception that encouraging people to eat significantly more fruit and vegetables and less processed food is unrealistic, it believes the public won’t take on board the recommendations and therefore this is why only very subtle changes are advocated.

I would encourage you to read the book, worse case scenario you’ve just read a book, best case scenario, you may improve your understanding of nutrition, lose weight from his recommendations and transform your health for good.

There are a number recipes in Fuhrman’s book, personally I think you could follow his ‘rules’ for eating and come up with more creative options than he has. I think it would just be a case of taking some time to adjust to the changes and becoming familiar with what you can eat, then finding more inventive combinations to create interesting meals. Even if you don’t follow everything he advocates to the letter, the more you do to improve your diet, the more health benefits you can expect to enjoy. I have already started to implement some significant changes and I feel great.

Why Coaching Matters

I spend a fair amount of time watching TED talks as I’m fascinated to hear what people (often experts in their fields), have to say on all manner of subjects. I’m also keen to learn about areas I may have little or no understanding of, to grow my knowledge of areas I do have an understanding of, and to watch the incredible presentation skills of those invited to talk at TED.

Many people don’t understand what coaching is or why there is a need for coaches. In a talk I watched last year (which I’ve finally got round to sharing!) Atul Gawande eloquently presents a powerful argument for coaching: self improvement and growth. Although the focus of his talk is specifically about his experiences of coaching and its impact within a work environment, the principle can be applied to anything in life; if you want to improve you must: have a clear view of reality, have self awareness, be willing to reflect and you must have direction to move forward, all of which a coach can assist with.

Watch this talk to learn how coaching can be utilised for personal development and growth and you’ll see the positive impact, not only on the individuals being coached, but the knock on effect on those around them.

 

The Life Coaching Handbook

I recently read a book called The Life Coaching Handbook: Everything You Need To Be An Effective Life Coach, written by professional Life Coach, Curly Martin. The book was published back in 2005, therefore some of the content now seems a little outdated, however the general principles of life coaching haven’t changed. There are also a number of skills and strategies detailed within the book, which I believe offer a useful insight for those who, like myself, are relatively new to the world of life coaching.

It would be quite a task to attempt to summarise all the relevant information I took away from reading the handbook, so instead I will just share a couple of the activities I’ve learnt about, which can be used as additional tools for coaches to implement when supporting clients in achieving their goals.

Prioritising Task
Reflecting on our priorities can often be helpful if we feel there is an imbalance in our life somewhere, or if we are looking for a change of some kind. Take the example of a client who is looking to start a new career but has a number of different paths they could choose. Martin suggests using a simple table such as the one below, to encourage the client to look at all the relevant options, whilst considering the impact of each one. This task is designed to focus the mind and provides the client with a numerical way of comparing the options, as you are simply measuring one against another.

The table has numerous applications, prioritising career choices being just one of them, but for this particular purpose the table should be used as follows. All career choices should be listed down the left hand side in the ‘ideas’ column for instance: doctor, social worker, investment banker, lawyer. Then each idea must be rated against the criteria listed along the top of the table. The score for each criterion will range between 1 and 4. 1 = low (meaning it is easy do, the cost is low, the effort is minimal) and 4 = high (therefore the opposite applies).

In this particular scenario, there are 4 criteria, therefore 16 is the maximum possible score for any idea. The ideas with the lowest overall scores are the priorities to work on. I’ve detailed an example on the table so you can see how this works in practice.

Prioritising Task V2

Limiting Beliefs Exercise
It is thought that our beliefs begin being formed the moment we are born and that all of our experiences and interactions influence our belief systems. We build up an image of our ‘self’ throughout our life, based around other people’s opinions and attitudes towards us. Those of doctors, nurses, teachers, parents, neighbours etc. and we usually grow up accepting that these are correct. We store these and they can either have a positive, or a negative influence on us. They can add to our development, they can limit our development or they can do both.

Like a self fulfilling prophecy, we let these limiting beliefs of our self image become who we are. Only by choosing to break these can we move forward and out of our comfort zone. We are caught in a loop. A loop with three components:

  • Our behaviour
  • Our self-talk
  • Our self image

The analogy of a a suitcase is used. The empty suitcase represents our self image. The clothes you shove inside it are the evidence that makes up your self image. Every pair of shoes, every shirt and every jumper you pack is another reference, it’s something said to you or about you that helps fill that suitcase and builds up those beliefs about who you are and what you’re capable of. Importantly, limiting beliefs can be changed. Those clothes can be thrown right back out of that suitcase. It’s time to re-pack!

Exercise:

  1. Identify a limiting belief e.g. ‘I’m not smart enough’
  2. List all references/evidence relating to that particular limiting belief e.g. I didn’t do very well at school, my mum said I’m stupid, I find science really confusing, an ex-boyfriend said the best thing about me is that I’m pretty, I don’t know much about politics etc.
  3. Decide to believe something different. To do this you need to come up with an alternative statement, something positive that can then repeat to yourself.
    (I would suggest start small, there’s no point coming up with something like ‘I’m the smartest person in the world’ if you don’t and won’t believe that. Perhaps something like ‘My brain serves me well and I use it all the time’ or ‘I have the ability to learn and grow’).
    Regularly repeat your alternative statement to break the limiting belief loop. This will take some time as it took a long time to build up the initial belief, but it will become easier.
  4. Write down three additional positive statements about yourself in present tense e.g. ‘I am interesting’, ‘I am likeable’ and ‘I am inquisitive’. Use these statements as new references and pack them into your suitcase!

Visualise yourself with this new image and enjoy it. Let this be who you actually are. Interrupt your self talk (this is when you hear yourself thinking in your former limiting way) and repeat one of your new statements. REMEMBER: What you believe is a choice.

Life Coaching Handbook 2

 

 

 

 

Corporate Coaching

Mia OGorman Image

A few weeks back I attended a talk presented by Mia O’Gorman and hosted by Animas, called ‘Adventures in Corporate Coaching’. The talk was essentially an introduction into the world of corporate coaching. I now have a fair understanding of personal coaching (what this entails, how the process works, some of the issues clients may present with), so I’m now keen to gain an understanding of what corporate coaching involves and how this differs from personal coaching.

Mia has a wealth of experience of coaching in corporate environments, one of the things I learned from her is that corporate coaching is usually sought for one of the following two reasons:

  1. An organisation makes the decision to support the development of its staff through coaching. Coaching may be offered to a specific individual or a number of staff who require additional support with their roles, or those who feel they may benefit from self-development (they may have a specific goal they’re looking to achieve, may want to improve their confidence, perhaps they’ve been promoted or are facing a particular challenge in their career, or this could be an individual who is under-performing and requires additional support). The coaching may be provided by someone internal who has received training – or a professional coach, external to the business.
  2. A CEO/Director/Senior Manager (usually someone in a leadership position) is looking to develop in a particular area, for instance they may want to enhance their working relationships or alter their management style, they may be looking to readdress their time management, work/life balance etc. Coaches tend to be sourced externally.

One difference with corporate coaching compared with personal coaching is that often the individual will be coached on an issue(s) relating to their work environment, for instance some of the examples noted above. This is not always the case however, if an employee is unhappy due their personal circumstances or is facing a challenge outside of work (for instance financial difficulty or a relationship breakdown), this could affect their performance at work, so it may be useful for them to have coaching on other areas of their life. Because of this, it can be useful for a coach to have a holistic approach; or at least be prepared to address other issues outside of the working environment. It’s worth noting however that the scope of the coaching should be agreed between the coach and the client and/or individual being coached upfront, so all parties are clear on the remit and expectations can be managed.

Mia explained the general process when it comes to coaching in a corporate environment:

Brief established
One way of establishing the brief is to initially meet with the client/line manager/person who has organised the coaching to understand their objectives, then meet with the client and the individual being coached to discuss the objectives/remit of the service together and gain some input from the individual being coached. This helps to ensure everyone is on the same page. Lastly there may be a session between just the coach and the individual where they have the privacy to speak more openly prior to the coaching commencing.

Coaching commences
This may be a one off session but more often than not takes place over a number of sessions (the length, the frequency and number would usually be agreed in advance).

Evaluation
The organisation may require some specific measures as to how successful the coaching has been; or the coach may have their own way of determining this. Either way, it is usual for the coach to have a discussion with the individual privately following the coaching and another with the client and individual (and perhaps a further discussion privately with just the client) to reflect on the process.

The process appears a little more formulaic within corporate coaching compared with personal coaching, and can clearly be more complex when multiple people are invested in the outcome(s).

The Ridler Report  was also discussed during the talk. This is a source of information about the world of coaching from corporate coaching practice Ridler & Co. The report includes research, analysis and insights about coaching, which can be useful for businesses looking to hire coaches or train their own coaches internally. Some of the long term objectives for companies in investing in the report (and their staff) include the development of individuals, which can help to gain and retain staff and increased business performance.

To demonstrate how well recognised the Ridler Report is, numerous organisations from various sectors are involved with providing content including: Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline, BBC, Nestle, John Lewis Partnership, Quantas, Save the Children and Lloyds Banking Group. The aim is that the report will continue to provide useful insights and developments within the coaching world and be a ‘global resource’ for organisations to utilise.

 

 

 

 

What’s In My Head

On Monday evening I attended a show by Katie Piper at the Duchess Theatre, London. ‘What’s In My Head’ is the name of her debut UK tour, which began this spring. You may have heard of Katie Piper for a number of reasons: She’s a British TV presenter, author, philanthropist (she runs a charity called The Katie Piper Foundation), and she’s a survivor of a horrific acid attack, which has altered the course of her life.

Katie is an inspiration to many (including myself) because of how she’s dealt, and continues to deal with the extreme challenges she’s faced. She’s not just survived, she’s thrived; turning the horrendous experiences she’s had into opportunities to support and educate others, and build a career for herself.

Katie’s show is more of an inspirational talk than anything else, where she opens up about what happened to her when she was attacked, the impact on both her physical and mental health following the attack; as well as some of the things that helped her to cope at this really dark time in her life.

Affirmations
Katie talks about affirmations and how these don’t just have to be quotes shared on social media, these can be anything from images or words to tattoos with personal information about a loved one, for instance the date of birth of a child. An affirmation is simple something encouraging and/or meaningful. I won’t go into too much detail so no spoilers here, however I will just say that she encourages you to write down any affirmations you have that are in word form and stick these up around your home. The idea being that in seeing these regularly you are reinforcing positive messages for yourself. I was encouraged to write one by the Life Coach who hosted the vision board workshop I attended a little while ago. She suggested the whole group write one each and carry this on their person moving forward, as she does. Mine is ‘Trust yourself, you’ve got this’ which is just a reminder to me that I can rely on myself and that I won’t let myself down.

2:1 breathing
The 2:1 yoga breathing technique is demonstrated by Katie as she said she finds this useful to calm her nerves at times. This kind of breathing is the opposite to ‘Fight or Flight’ and is apparently referred to as ‘Rest and Digest’. She explains that the technique is simply used to relax us and take us out of our anxious mode. You need to sit up straight, inhale for say three seconds, then exhale for say six seconds, or inhale for four seconds and exhale for eights, hence 2:1.

Although the subject matter of the talk was very serious, Katie delivered it in a way that made it moving and in some places, lighthearted and humorous. She’s a naturally engaging speaker and if there’s one thing I took away from the talk it’s that you will only move forward if you truly learn to accept your circumstances. Wishing things were different or making comparisons with other people isn’t useful. I would highly recommend the show and there are still some tickets available for her final tour date on Thursday 31st May in Camberley, Surrey so now is the time to get one!

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Full Circle

Joseph Grech

Today I’ve been at yet another coaching introductory course! This one was one run by Full Circle, a coaching provider than focuses on transformation coaching. Transformation coaching is deemed a more holistic approach to coaching clients, offering long-term, sustainable change when compared with transactional coaching, which is a more structured and goal orientated approach, often relying on clients coming to sessions with specific challenges or goals.

Today’s introductory course was a little different from the others I’ve attended. It was far less showy and the focus was very much on giving attendees a real opportunity to learn about the coaching industry. Trainer, Joseph Grech didn’t put on a big performance for his audience, instead he came across as being down to earth, simply explaining Full Circle’s approach to coaching, giving a breakdown of the course structure, as well as candidly answering all our our questions about both the course and the industry.

Although perhaps not the most engaging introductory day I’ve attended, it was informative and felt entirely sincere, which was refreshing! The most valuable part of the day for me, in terms of my coaching development, was having the opportunity to observe a full coaching session between Joseph (an experienced coach) and a willing participant (a volunteer from the group who came along with a genuine issue). I’ve seen (and been involved with) coaching demonstrations at other introductory days, but until now I hadn’t witnessed a full coaching session. It was invaluable to see the full process from the coach welcoming the client into the space, explaining the remit of the service and outlining things such as the confidentiality policy; right through to the coach wrapping up the session and asking the client for feedback.

A few specific observations I noted about the coaching session were the engaging body language, tone of voice and pace Joseph maintained throughout the coaching, the in-depth listening he demonstrated and the amount of reflection and questioning he used to both challenge the client and encourage her to open up. He also used a technique I’d encountered before, which coaches use when clients don’t feel they can offer an answer when questioned on a particular issue that’s personal to them. The technique is essentially to get them to utilise their brain to come up with a solution to their own problem. Often clients can do this is they think a question is just hypothetical, or if they don’t really see that it’s them coming up with the solution.  For instance a client may say “I don’t know what I’d do if I quit my job” to which a coach may respond “But what if you did know, what might you think about doing?” or if a client were to say “What do you think I should do about my boss?” the coach may offer “What do you think I would suggest?” Another strategy is for the coach to use rhetorically questions. The client may  make a statement like “I feel that I can’t get on with people” or “I think that no one will employ me” to which the coach may ask “You feel that, or you know that?” allowing the client the opportunity to really reflect on whether something is actually a fact, or rather a limiting belief they hold.

Something else I found useful, which may be of interest to any aspiring coaches out there is the concept of Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) – This refers to when someone (in this case the coach) has a positive bias towards another person (in this case the client), which may cloud their ability to be objective. For example, if you (the coach) had worked as a nurse in a past life and had a very negative experience of working incredibly hard, over long hours and felt you hadn’t been sufficiently supported, you may assume your client (who is a nurse) also works incredibly hard and has been unfairly treated, which may not necessarily be the case. In instances like this Joseph advised referring the client onto another coach, one who can offer a more impartial service.

 

Essential Oils

Wild Orange Essential Oil

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop in central London about essential oils, as I was interested to find out a little about what these are and how they can be used to support good health.

The session was run by Madeleine Bergquist, who is working in partnership with a company called doTERRA, to promote and sell their essential oils, as one of their ‘Independent Wellness Advocates’.

Madeleine has strong knowledge about the products and seemed genuinely passionate about promoting them, it was a great introduction to essential oils. Firstly she explained that essential oils are not actually oils. They are simply naturally occurring compounds that come from plants. They have various roles within the plant such as aiding pollination; and often have a powerful aroma to them.

Madeleine also explained that essential oils can be used to treat a number of health complaints, although she did stress that they shouldn’t be used instead of Western medicine, but rather to complement it.

There are various ways of using essential oils:
1) Inhaling them directly (smelling the oil from the bottle, applying a few drops to a tissue or pillow case, or inhaling through steaming water)
2) Inhaling them indirectly (through a diffuser or a spray)
3) Ingesting them into the body (*direct application to the skin – this can be done in an aromatherapy massage, or in some cases you might put a drop onto your tongue or in a glass of drinking water).

*DO NOT INGEST ANY ESSENTIAL OILS WITHOUT READING THE LABEL TO CHECK THIS IS SAFE AND APPROPRIATE.

Essential Oils Starter Kit

I bought a starter kit (shown above) containing three of the more popular/commonly used essential oils: lavender, peppermint and lemon. Although I don’t think the lavender is the most pleasant smell, it’s thought to be relaxing and useful to aid sleep. Since purchasing the kit I’ve frequently been putting a couple of drops of lavender onto a tissue on my pillow when I go to bed, to help me relax and fall asleep. My favourite smell however is the wild orange. As you might expect it has a powerful, sweet, citrus smell, similar to pink grapefruit.