Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A strong, strong recommendation.

One of the people on WeightLossResources.com put me onto the Ebook, Burn the Fat Feed The Muscle by Tom Venuto. (BTFFTM)

Having read it cover to cover (do you do that on an Ebook or should it be top of screen to bottom I can only say WOW!

This guy has it covered. Firstly he is not selling anything, (apart from his books of course!) as far as I know he is not marketing protein shakes or any other sort of gadget, gizmo or lazy man’s (or woman’s!) way to leanness.

Secondly he tells it like it is, that there is no magic bullet to get healthily down from 19 stone to 11 in three weeks. It takes time perseverance self discipline and exercise.

He explains the science (and gives references) about the evidence for his BTFFTM system. Indeed he is honest enough to say it is not his system just the threads of scientific evidence and his own experience as a champion body builder drawn together in an easily understandable way. If you want to know how do do something ask someone who clearly is successful at it!

For those that have never seen the book (apologies to those that have) There are four main areas that he concentrates on:

Goals and motivation, drawing heavily from NLP he is quite right in saying if your goals are not big clear and compelling you will find success harder.

Nutrition. A good chunk of the book is given over to this. Think of your body as a performance engine, why would you put duff fuel in it? He also details why those who seek to have very low body fat eat at least 5 times a day! He also covers in detail why water is so important to us.

Cardio for fat burning – he explains the science behind what happens when we take our heart rate up

Resistance training to keep lean mass as high as possible during a calorie deficit stage.

I started this phase of my life about 3 weeks ago and while I knew about body fat % and BMI etc. I was probably as focussed on weight as anyone else. Since I read BTFFTM my focus has changed completely. My focus now is to maintain as much lean mass as possible during this fat loss stage. Consequently I have cleaned up my diet, sworn off alcohol entirely and have started to plan meals and eat 5 times a day.

What can I say? It only works. While I have not been near a scale for nearly a week, I feel better, brighter, with more energy, no cravings for any rubbish. My goals are big clear and real to me.

Unfortunately it has got me into a bit of trouble for being a bit evangelical on WLR. I have been told this is not the only way people can achieve their goals.

That is true.

There is more than one way to cross the road.

You can do it with your wits about you taking into account as much information as you can take in. You could ask someone who has been successfully crossing the road for years how they do it. You could close your eyes and hope. You could walk backwards with your eyes tight shut. All of these methods could get you to the other side.

I have a very simple way of looking at it - which gives me the greatest chance of success? Thank you Mr Venuto for doing all the hard work for me!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Big, clear, objectives!

The funny thing about the human being is that if they really really want something they will go after it and get it.

I don’t care who you are it is true, whether it is positive (say sporting or business success) or negative (a junkie in need of another fix) if the desire is great enough we move heaven and earth.

So how come we sometime have difficulty in motivating ourselves to get something we know we want? The answer is we just don’t want it enough!

So do we just give up? Not on my watch matey!

There are some very simple and very easy techniques that can be used to make that goal more compelling.

Firstly, if you have read any of this blog before you will know that beliefs play a huge part in human behaviour.

So I would say choose your belief and ‘act as if’.

To expand on that a bit if I tell my self I can’t do something my body acts to fulfil that belief. I will give up easily as I have already accepted I won’t succeed. Which, surprise surprise is why people with a can do attitude tend to succeed in life.

So if you want to be leaner, tell yourself you are going to be leaner!

If you want to succeed at least give yourself the chance by telling yourself you are going to succeed. Then act ‘as if’ you are going to succeed. It may feel a bit strange at first (a little unnatural and you may have doubts, however believe me the more you tell yourself and the more you act as if the more your body will ‘somatise’ that belief and take it on board.

Now get clear on your objectives. Now once again regular readers will know I am not a great one for obsessing about scales. My guess is that what virtually everyone trying to lose weight wants is not to lose weight as such, but to be leaner/fitter/healthier/happier. Am I right?

So if those are your objectives be clear on them!

We all make sense of the world through our five senses (and for the purpose of this next section we are going to deal with just three) Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic (feeling). We represent the world to our brain through these sense. Without going into too much detail (I got told off for that the other day!) different people prefer to use these senses in different proportions.

It will soon become clear to you which is your preferred system when we get on the next sep of the exercise.

So having thought about your objective, what would it be like when you achieve that goal? Take a moment to imagine, what you will look like, what you will hear others say or what you will say to yourself, and imagine how you will feel!


If you are visualising how you will look make the picture bigger, make it brighter and make sure it is in colour!

If you are hearing what people are saying or you are congratulating yourself, put some more enthusiasm in that voice even add some cheering and clapping to the sound track!

If you are imagining how you will feel when you reach your objectives, intensify that feeling really ramp it up! Notice where it is in your body and what the nature of that feeling is.

If there is any negative self talk going on about ‘well chances are I will never get there’ ignore it. This is imagining you have. You can imagine whatever you like!

The key is in intensifying whatever you imagine to the point where it becomes compelling and something you can go back to at any time if your resolve starts to weaken.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Locus of control, where is yours?

If there is one thing that has affected me more than leaning about where I decide my locus of control to be I'm not sure what it is!

What i s a 'locus of control'?

Without going into the full psychological explanation it really means do you control your world or does your world control you?

I wrote a piece about this on WLR when I first joined about cause and effect. It is essentially the same thing.

Those whose locus of control is internal believe that how they feel (so by definition how happy they are is determined by themselves (internally). Those who have an external locus of control believe that events beyond them determine their state of mind.

Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People describes it as three concentric circles the first one being very small. This is us and it is where we have most influence (control?). A little further out there is another circle which is our immediate world (family, work ect.) and beyond that there is a much bigger circle which is the rest of the world.

It really does not need a genius to work out the further away you are from the centre the more powerless you will feel.

I can honestly say that I have never met someone who has a very external locus of control who is generally happy. Because they are trying to control a world which is way beyond their control, and the more they try the more powerless they feel.


Spend more of your time 'closer to home'. Deal with the world from a point of cause rather than effect, as at cause you have the greatest influence and therefore the greater feeling of power.

Sade on WLR asked me to relate more of this to my own experience. So here goes..........

I first came across the idea of living at cause or effect/locus of control when I was studying NLP. It made so much sense I really just took it on board and started to 'live out of that belief' and noticed the difference it made to me and those around me. My studies also (in a round about way led me to the philosophy of Taoism, which almost takes this idea to an extreme!

Essentially every experience I have had since learning about cause and effect has underpinned what I now know to be true. I am happier knowing that I work at controlling my world not the world.

Interesting day!

It has been an interesting day with a bit of negative feed back on the WLR site where I sometimes post, though it is nice to know that the positives come in at about 5:1. So on balance I would assume there are people who are benefitting from these posts and this blog.

It does surprise me to an extent that anyone should have a problem with what someone is posting on a web site forum, last time I looked it was not compulsory to read anyone's posts!

One of the members on WLR asked me to post something about 'Locus of Control' which I am happy to do so watch this space!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What is happiness? (part1)

How do you do happiness?

Do other things/people make you happy? Or is it you that decides what makes you happy or what does not?

Not easy questions are they?

The older I get the more I am adjusting my ideas about what makes me happy. There was a time when I thought was money and possessions, but when I think it through what that was really connected to was me wanting the world to see me as successful! But life has taught me that (with the best will possible) most of the rest of the world really does not give a toss if I am successful or not! Those who really care about me do so because of who I am not because of what I own.

Don't get me wrong, I do like the finer things in life, and I am not one of those that wants to wear sackcloth and ashes. But what I have learnt is that once you have enough, what you get on top is marginal and not always worth the extra effort.

My wife (the wise Mrs F) summed it up nicely with this piece of wisdom "the difference between having a car and no car is huge, the difference between having my little Fiesta and a big BMW is not so great". The difference is certainly not doubled!

This could be applied to anything shoes, food, houses, etc, etc, etc.

What it does not transfer to is relationships. Of course the difference between having one loving relationship in your life and no one who cares is huge. However having two people who love you is a doubled and a third means it is trebled.

So give me the choice between money and wealth and those who are important to me and I know which I would choose every time.

The paradox is that I do not and cannot own any of those that bring me such joy, so I own nothing that is important to me but I have so much of it.

The funny thing is for years and years I had know idea it was that way around!

Change of title!

I have changed the name of this blog because I am going to concentrate on exploring ways in which people can lead a happier healthier life.

That does not mean that I know exactly how to do it, I am still finding my way like everyone else, but I do know I have learnt a few things along the way that mean that I have reached place in my life where I can say, yes I know how to be happy, and I know how to deal with most of what life throws at me.

Now the last thing I want to do is come across as smug! But when I joined weightlossresources.com it was clear that there are quite a few people that might appreciate a little help.

So..... this blog is not about look at me and what I have done it is about what I have learned along the way of my journey and if by passing some learning on I can help just one person then it makes any effort worth while.

I think the truth is I like happy people, I like to be around them. I like positive people they are able to give without diminishing themselves. I like kind people, they know that to be kind does not cost them indeed they gain from it.

Not really sure how often I can add something or indeed how much effect it will have on anyone, but so far I have had some good responses so who knows!

Feedback Loops

(No they are not the latest breakfast cereal!)

What are feedback loops?

One answer is that they can be the most powerful motivational tool you have.Start with the basics.

The human being is a very very complex cybernetic system. That is it takes in information and adjusts it's behaviour according to the information taken in. It then checks that adjustment to see if it has reached the desired state and adjusts again if not.

An easy way to think of it is a central heating system - when it is turned on the boiler fires because the thermostat tells it that the water is not at the required temperature then continues to turn off and on depending upon whether the required temperature is reached.

So....you now all know about cybernetics!

How does this apply to becoming a 'healthy me' ? To put it very simply (and this is very simply) in behavioural terms we humans get into what are termed positive feedback loops or negative feedback loops.

Example of a positive feedback loop in this context: You go to the gym in the morning, you feel good about yourself, yours self esteem is boosted, your resolve is boosted, at work someone offers you a doughnut but you politely decline, you tell yourself that was a brilliant thing to do, your self esteem goes up, you smile more, someone says to you you are looking well, yours self esteem goes up, so you make good food choices at lunch time, so you feel good all afternoon........... I think you get the picture.

Example of a negative feedback loop in this context:

You eat something you you know it would be better not to eat, you feel bad about yourself, so you tell yourself you are rubbish a worthless human being, so you are in a bad mood, because you are in a bad mood you snap at a colleague which leads to a row, so you feel down and reach for your old friend chocolate bar, which picks you up for a bit but as soon as you have finished you are telling yourself you are not only bad but stupid, which makes you feel even worse..........familiar?

And surprise surprise all this happens without really thinking about it as we do not need our conscious minds in order to do all this.

What can we do about it?

Firstly be aware of the power of feedback loops and take control of them! You are now!

Consciously start your own positive feedback loops by asking the question what could I do today that might start a positive feedback loop? It need not be anything strenuous, just resolving to smile and say hello to everyone you meet is likely to start a positive feedback loop as others will be nice back and that will start you feeling good about yourself!

Be aware if you are slipping into a negative loop and break the pattern. You can do this by changing your thinking or changing your physiology. You can just say to yourself when you see a familiar negative pattern emerging "no I am not going to do this again, I am going to do something different, not sure what yet but it will be different, what can I do to get the outcome I want"
(Always frame outcomes in the positive - i.e. what you want not what you don't want).

Hope that is useful, you are living in feedback loops whether you know it or not, much better to know it and take some control eh?
The difference between objectives and goals

I notice that some people get a little down because they are not seeing their weight change quickly enough (which is of course understandable) you have set a goal and want to achieve it.

However the amount of weight a body loses in say a week or month is not directly in our control. We can of course influence it and there is nothing wrong with setting a long term goal. However setting very short term goals and not hitting them can be very de-motivating.

It is not a question of setting ourselves up to fail but it is putting success outside of our direct control in the short term. Therefore if the goal is not reached we often tell ourselves we have failed!

So what about instead, setting short term objectives that really are in our control and will lead us to the long term goal such as:

This week I will:

go to the gym 4 times

I will do X minutes cardio and Y weight routines.

I will eat my target number of calories and I will stay within my nutritional guidelines +/-X%.

I will weigh all foods as accurately as I can whenever I can.I will not beat myself up.

I will ask myself 5 good questions every dayetc etc.

Tip. Always set objectives in the positive i.e. I will do ABC. NOT this week I will not do XYZ. The brain works in whichever way you point it, so point it to the positive!

These objectives can be whatever you want them to be, but I hope the distinction is clear between objective you can set and control as opposed to goals that you have set and move towards. If we set ourselves objectives which perhaps stretch us but which are totally within our power to achieve imagine how good we will feel when we achieve those objectives week after week! As for the goals they will follow as sure as eggs is eggs!

‘Weight’ frame or ‘Healthy Me’ frame?

What do I mean by ‘weight frame’ or ‘Healthy me’ frame.

Well first let’s start with frames and filters.

Whatever happens, happens. It has no meaning until we ascribe it. The human being is a meaning making machine, we ascribe meaning to everything. However we do not always give the same event the same meaning. If my team loses I do not feel the same about it as a supporter of the other team!

In order to create this ‘personal reality’ we use what are called ‘filters’ or ‘frames’. That is we use the filter of our experience, beliefs, values and sense of self to ascribe meaning to everything that happens.Therefore the filters we use will have a massive effect on our experience of life.

If you have the belief that people are on the whole good and kind you will have a very different experience to life than if you believe that people are inherently nasty and out to do you harm.

On a more light hearted note have you ever noticed if you have bought a new car you suddenly notice how suddenly there are many of them there are on the road! Of course that is not true you are just filtering for them.What we focus on will tend to determine our experience of life.

So what does this mean in the context of becoming a 'healthy me'?

There are some who think in a ‘weight frame’. That is everything is focussed on what the scales tell them, and if the scales do not tell them the right thing it can have a very negative effect on their mood.

I am not saying this is wrong as such however I wonder if it gets people to where they really want to be.

If I were to ask anyone here ‘what would you get from being your goal weight’ the answer might be something along the lines of; ‘I would get a great deal of satisfaction’ or ‘I would feel I had achieved what I once thought impossible’ or even ’I would start to like myself again!’

What is for sure no one here is trying to lose weight just for the sheer fun of it.

We are all doing it for what it will give us and ultimately that will be an emotion.However the ‘weight frame’ is a very narrow frame. It means that someone using that frame will be ecstatic when the lose and often very down when they do not! But is this really the best frame to use?

An alternative would be the ‘Healthy me’ frame. This frame filters using the basic question ‘does whatever I am doing take me closer to being the ‘healthy me’ I want to be? This frame can prompt some very useful questions:

What really is a ‘healthy me’?

What would a ‘healthy me’ look like, sound like, feel like’

How would a ‘healthy me’ deal with setbacks and disappointments?

What sort of food choices would a ‘healthy me’ make.

What sort of exercise would a ‘healthy me’ do? And how often?

What sort of a relationship would a ‘healthy me’ have with myself? And with others?

What sort of weight range would a ‘healthy me’ live in?

There are plenty more but this gives just a flavour of the questions someone who lives in a ‘healthy me’ frame.

Of course I am not telling anyone how to think, everyone is free to live using whatever filters and frames they like. What I do know having used both is that narrow succeed/fail frames tend not to be conducive to a happy stress free life. In fact only this morning my wife told me that I am a much nicer person to know than I used to be. Whichever way anyone has been in the past does not mean that they cannot be different in the future.

If you are one of those who having being living in the weight frame and not enjoying it much, there are alternative ways to be that will make a life a good deal more enjoyable with fewer grey moods!


Have you ever stopped to think how much what we believe about the world affects our behaviour?

Beliefs are essential to us as without them we would have to learn the world a new each day and from an evolutionary point of view this would not work. You have to believe going too near the edge of the cliff is dangerous if you are going to get to breed!

Our beliefs are also inextricably linked to our values, and together these things have an enormous effect on our behaviour.

Let us look at avlues first. Most of us value the feeling of being loved, it is something we seek from our very first breath and it never really leaves us, we might value honesty, integrity, fun, warmth, comfort, acceptance all manner of things.

On the other side of the coin their are values that we do not like that usually we move away from such as pain, humiliation, hatred, embarrassment, discomfort.

If you stop and think about it everything we do is to either get or avoid these things, and in the end that all comes down to a feeling, an emotion that we are either seeking or trying to avoid.

The belief part is the 'if' part of the 'if, then' evaluation that we are subconsciously going through all the time.

To give an example, if I am approaching a door that has a lever handle, (even though I have never been through that door before) I have a learned belief, which is that if I push that handle down then I will be able to get through the door into the toilet beyond which lies a feeling of comfort that I am looking for!

Or I believe that if I stand at the right bus stop the right bus will come along which will allow me to get to my significant other, and when I do I will feel soooooooooo good!

So I do a certain behaviour because I believe if I do I will get a feeling I want or avoid a feeling I do not.

Of course we do not think these things consciously as we go about life or we would bearly be able to funcition. I use the examples to show that it is our beliefs and values that underly all our behaviour.

Indeed I have a belief that no human behaviour is random everything we do has a positive intent. Now some people will be saying 'OK Will I have been with you until now but not all human behaviour is positive'. That is not what I am saying the key word here is 'intent'.

Excessive drinking or drug taking is definately unhealthy and negative for our well being but people do it with a positive intent, though it often starts out with that intent to get the good feelings such substances can give, it often ends up being done usually to numb the pain that not having the drink or the drugs brings.

So how does this relate to healthy eating?

Well our beliefs about food will have a huge effect on how much we eat and what we eat. I once new a woman who only really ate boiled chicken and steamed veg. It wasn't that she was slimming or anything it was just she did not like food very much. Consequently she was stick thin but a bit boring!

Now speaking personally my beliefs about food have definately led me to where I am today! As a child money wasn't plentiful so clearing my plate got me praise from the two people whose approval I sought above all else - mum and dad!

I also grew up with the belief that generosity was a value worthy of aspiring to that to feed someone was an act of friendship, even love, and that small portions were mean and meanness was without doubt to be avoided.

So perhaps you can see what I am getting at here we all have learned beliefs that lead us towards certain behaviour in many areas of our life not least with food.

To complicate matters we do not just have single beliefs on any particular subject we can hold many, some of which can be very much conflicting, and that is where the problems really start.

Take our old friend chocolate. Many people reading this will hold the belief that eating too much chocolate is not a healthy thing to do. However those same people will probably also hold the belief that eating chocolate is extremely pleasant and enjoyable and makes me feel feel good while I am doing it!

So what can you do???

Firstly become aware. The key to success is calm awareness. I say calm awareness as if you are in an aggitated or upset emotional state you are unlikely to make good choices on food or anything else.

Secondly, don't beat yourself up about what you have done in the past. everything you did was with a positive intent even if it gave you a negative outcome!

Thirdly take some time to sit down and write down ALL the beliefs you have about food and link them to the value you will get by doing that behaviour.

e.g. eating chocolate is pleasant (belief) as it gives me a real buzz when I am actually eating it (value).

The more you can write down the better.

Then look at if any of these beliefs are conflicting. I suspect there will be a few.

Now there are techniques that can deal very effectively with conflicting beliefs but it is not something I can take you through on here.

However I believe that by just bringing your beliefs and values into your awareness is a big start.

Once you are aware of the effect that your beliefs have on your eating behaviours you can start to develop strategies to make you choose the healthy option rather than the unhealthy when it appears before you.

If anyone want to know more on this subject or any of the others covered on here please do not hesitate to let me know.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What is a Healthy Me?

To be honest there is no one answer to this question as we will of course all have our own evidence about what constitutes healthy!

As a fiftysomething realistically I cannot set health goals at the level of say my son who is 25. Or can I perhaps I cannot reach his fitness levels but perhaps 'health' is not something that is determined by age.

Also is a 'healthy me' determined only by fitness or by how much I weigh? I'm not even sure the medics would say it is. To me being healthy is having a good relationship with myself, both physically and mentally, also can I really consider myself healthy if I do not have healthy relationships to those close to me and to the wider world.

Perhaps it is true that it does not matter how 'fit' I am if I have an unhealthy or abusive attitude to myself, those around me or to the wider world.

The more I think about it healthy is much more than fitness or good food (though those things help!).

So if these ideas interest you bookmark this page and I will add more thoughts as they occur!

Hello all

Some of you visiting here might have read some of my posts on weightlossresources.com (wlr)and know that one of my interests in life is helping people understand how they get the results they get and how if they want to get different results they have to do something different!

Now although I have used 'they' in that last sentence it applies to me as much as anyone else.

Thought that doing a blog might give me the chance to do more of these thoughts (without clogging up the wlr message board) and also they would remain accessible for those that want to view them again for longer than on the message board.

You will have to bear with me but I am a bit new to this bogging lark so I will be learning as I go. Still I do believe that if you have stopped learning you have stopped living!

Why the title 'Healthy Me'?

It comes from a post I did on wlr that contrasts what it is like living in a frame that focusses on how much you weigh as opposed to living a healthy life.

I have always had an interest in sport and exercise but like most people my devotion to a healthy lifestyle has waxed and waned often in line with what is going on in my life. Interestingly the times when I have exercised less and eaten badly have been connected to bad times, when in fact that is the time when it would be better to take more care of myself!

Oh well lesson now learned.

So I am back at the gym and back making sure that I only put good fuel into the engine. So yes I am now thinking more about a 'Healthy Me'.

This blog will be part a journal of what I am up to and partly my thoughts as to how others might reach some of their goals because I believe that none of us are counting calories or doing exercise for the sheer fun of it we are doing it as we would like to feel better about ourselves, and if I can help in any way at all that is alright by me!