Happiness ...

I came across this sign for sale in a local street market yesterday.  I bought it to help remind me of what I am grateful of and to help me stay in touch with my feeling of well-being and joy.  Do you have something, a photo or souvenir you keep at hand that, when you look at it, triggers a change in your feeling of emotional well-being?

If you don't feel you have "happiness" at the moment, perhaps it is worthwhile looking at the definition...

vocabulary.com defines it as "the feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile.  It's the opposite of sadness.  It's a state of well-being characterised by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy:

Synonym:   felicity

Antonym:   unhappiness - a state characterised by emotions ranging from mild discontentment to deep grief

Types:   beatification, beatitude, blessedness - a state of supreme happiness;  radiance - an attractive combination of good health and happiness;  enlightenment, nirvana - (Hinduism and Buddhism) the beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation; characterised by the extinction of desire and suffering and individual consciousness                                                        

Types of:   emotional state, spirit - the state of a person's emotions (especially with regard to pleasure or dejection)."

In Life Coaching, NLP and Hypnotherapy often I work with an individual client to help move her/him from a low-mood state to a more positive resourceful one, a place of comfort with more consistent feelings of well-being.  One of my tips comes from my American guru, Stephen Gilligan.  He's an extraordinarily gifted man working in Generative Change using NLP, Trance and Psychotherapy.  We met when I attended his Trance Camp training.  Gilligan's tip is to allocate a corner with some memorable photos and possessions that instil a feeling of well-being and joy.  For instance, he mentioned that his dog gives him feelings of being centred so he has a photo of him on his desk along with others.  Hence, each morning when I wake up,  I look over to my cherished photos of loved ones and inspirational people along with a few momentos including a laughing buddha.  To this I have added my new sign.  The message that happiness is a journey is especially fitting as I've just returned from an epic trip with a team of ski-mountaineering friends.  A reminder too about another happiness tip - that's to stay in touch with your passions, perhaps something you enjoy doing now or that you did when you were young.  Doing so will help you thrive even when the world is an imperfect place.   My passions are working with people, travel and adventure sport so the sign will serve to remind me of the philosophy and our wonderful trip each time I look at it.  So, if you are searching for greater happiness, why not try these two simple tips?!

 

                  

"Age is Just A Number"...

Today I heard this "senior", Charles Eugster, chatting eloquently on the radio about his new book, "Age is just a number".  What an inspiration.  He is a remarkable man, a mere 97 years young!  He described himself as having been a dentist and parent of 2 children who was "balding, self-satisfied and a lump of lard" until he started rowing at 63.   He became a champion in the over 60s class but worried that, despite the exercise, his body was going downhill.  At 87 he took up body building for a couple of years and, as you can see, transformed it.  He recommends three things:  (1) Keep working/learning new things; (2) Watch what you eat; (3)  Exercise.  (He loves eating fat incidentally - see my reference in my previous blog, "Battle of the bulge".)  He's now a champion long-jumper - in his age-group anyway!  So as I put in my final week of fitness work for my own annual ski-mountaineering trip, I know that excuses won't do even if 60 is not so far away these days.    Maybe it's time to think about next year's trip!

https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780751565379

 

Starting 2018... Transforming habits for a healthy mind and body

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This article was first published in January 2017.  Amended and updated January 2018.

Hey-ho it's January and most of us notice a few lbs have crept on.  On every TV channel programmes focus on the unfavourite topic of weight and dieting.   It might be you've made a New Year's Resolution to give-up a particular food, alcohol  or "to go on a diet"; I've heard we're more likely to fail if we use that phrase.  Rather we should think of it as a life-style change to ensure that the yo-yo weight-loss / weight-gain cycle is broken.  Ho-hum...  

Although I'm lucky to now be at my mid-range BMI (that's a measure of health),  as I come from a line of short overweight-women that hasn't always been the case.  In fact, at 17, I joined my Mum and Gran at Weight-Watchers on a weekly basis.  I try to keep abreast of this emotive and confusing subject for my own and professional interest but it's hard to pick out good, research-based information. Of course, I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician, but it is nice to be able to help point people in an informed direction. However, as a coach and a hypnotherapist, where my skills lie is to support, motivate and help with habit change. Through a variety of techniques and NLP activities, you open up a new way of being; building a new neural pathway that helps move you from the "I want" to the "I am" as you move along your journey to success.    

So, if weight-management is your target I thought you might like help sifting through all that is being thrown at you about "dieting" as the year starts.  You might like to know about a book called "The Diet Myth - The Real Science Behind What We Eat" by Professor Tim Spector (2015).  More recent articles and TV programmes are bringing the same information to our attention, making the ideas more mainstream.  The book draws on science and tells us why the balance in our microbiome (our gut microbes) and its interaction with our body plays a crucial part in our weight.  Spector rejects diet fads embracing food diversity for a healthy gut and healthy body.  He favours a Mediterranean diet which he lists as predominantly fish/vegetables/beans/lentils and fruit and enthuses about extra virgin olive oil, blue cheese and natural yoghurt.  As usual he advocates exercise which will lift your spirits, stress-bust and burn calories.  Of course, some people find it easy to maintain a healthy weight without knowing how important their gut microbes are. Perhaps though it can be a key contribution to YOUR success? 

Like Spector's book, Channel 4's "Food Unwrapped" Diet Special January 2018 also emphasised the importance of having diverse gut bacteria.  Their reporter visited the healthy Hanzi People in Tanzania because they are healthy and have no malnutrition.  They have 40% more bacteria in their guts than most of us in UK and a greater diversity, living on a diet containing honey comb (with bee grubs 'n all), a very fibrous root vegetable and a fruit which is extremely rich in Vitamin C.   The programme went on to say that we can simulate this by including Jerusalem artichokes and chicory (red and green, preferably raw with a regular intake a few times a week) - see photos below - along with raw garlic, onions, seaweed, wheat, oats, and fish (mentioning mackerel).  Essentially these are rich in prebiotics which promote the good bacteria that are already in our guts.  Another pointer was the use of the spice cumin to aid fat reduction.  They said more clinical research is required but it is thought to burn fat.  And for curry fans like me, a Chicken Korma made with a low-calorie recipe got the the thumbs up as it contained a range of other particularly valuable spices in weight-management such as turmeric (which stops fat re-growth after weight-loss), ginger (which helps you feel satisfied after eating), cinnamon (which helps control blood sugar), and chilli (which increases metabolism).

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The trend of juicing fruit/veg raises an alarm for Spector, as it removes the fibre which carries fat from the body.  Processed foods are a no-no because the body does not handle the added chemicals well. That strikes a huge amount of food off the list, such as, preserved meats (e.g. sausages, ham, salami). Foods with a long shelf life (e.g. cakes, biscuits, butter-like spreads) are off the menu too as they contain worrying hydrogenated fats.  Fructose (the sugar present in fruit) is to be watched - indeed I noticed my large glass of supermarket-bought orange juice this morning contained 26% of my daily recommended sugar intake!  Counter-intuitively, low-calorie diet foods and fizzy drinks laden with artificial sweetener are a non-starter as your brain does not evolved to know how to digest these.   Spector recommends sticking to white meat, such as chicken, for the most-part, although it seems an occasional steak and glass of red wine are allowed.  He considers dietary supplements potentially very harmful.  The good news is he is less concerned by calorie counting, the bad news is he'd like a sample of your stool!   The book is an accessible read and highly recommended, particularly if you've tried "the usual" and are a bit stuck.   

Channel 4's programme "Food Unwrapped - The Diet Special", aired in January 2017, also provided information along the same lines as Spector's book.  It challenged the Government's Eat-Well guidelines to cut-out fat and, rather, made a plea to cut-out foods containing sugar.  In order to do that we need to be aware that "carbohydrates" can mean starch or/and sugar and it is only by looking at the packaging's small print that you can discern which are present and the percentages.  Most people do however know that starch and sugar are extremely different nutritionally.  The programme warned to be wary of those so-called "healthy" breakfast cereals.   They also mentioned that there's evidence to support intermittent fasting as it has been shown to improve metabolism, so if you like skipping breakfast then here's your invitation to do so.  They looked at the so-called "Wolverine's" 16:8 Diet, when all eating is done within an 8 hours period each day (apparently Hugh Jackman used it before playing the part).  Spector also gives the supporting evidence for the 5:2 diet which allows normal healthy eating for 5 days a week then restricts calories for the 2 remaining days:  men to 600 calories and 500 for women.  Incidentally, I have seen clients use these diets successfully as part of their coaching or hypnotherapy to a lighter, brighter way of being.

Another fact mentioned more commonly mentioned now is how a poor sleep routine is linked to being over-weight.   Apparently sleepy people are more stimulated by food!  Nick Littlehales' book, "Sleep - The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps...and the New Plan to Recharge Your body and Mind",  explores sleep management in huge detail.  That's hardly surprising as he is a sleep coach to Olympic athletes, some Premier League and Sky cycle teams.  What you need to know, most of all, is just how important darkness is for sleep and how important sleep is for good health!  Research shows to avoid obesity your sleep should average 7 hours.  Incidentally those sleeping less than an average of 5 hours are at greater risk of diabetes (type II).  Note, however, that 8 hours a night is an average and not for everyone.  You might be like Usain Bolt who likes a good 10 hours, or more like Margaret Thatcher who existed on about 5 hours per night along with day-time naps.  In Littlehales' programme, your sleep time can vary from night-to-night to accommodate your life-style as sleep is measured over the week and includes naps.  Our natural body clock 90 minute cycles are known as "circadian rhythms" and are a crucial part of his programme.  They continue night and day with your body dipping between 1 - 3pm and 5 - 7pm -  ideal times for a wee nap just like the continental siesta.    

Sadly inexpensive calorie-rich food is on offer almost everywhere and the NHS recommended exercise levels are higher than even an energetic enthusiast might guess.  It takes a while to become conversant with what nutrition and calories are in a portion of food but good Apps help such as "MyFitnessPal".  But if you've gone down that route and you're battling the bulge unsuccessfully perhaps this has given you more to think about to increase your chance of success?  Good luck and I hope this has been of use to you.   Remember if you've other health issues and you are not used to doing exercise, do get advice from your GP before embarking on your healthy life-style change. If your BMI healthy weight-range seems a long way off, keep looking forward step-by-step: that's the weigh to go!  And as ever,  if you'd like some coaching or hypnotherapy for weight-or sleep management (or anything else) please get in touch by emailing audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk or by phoning 075 548 54321.  Coaching is available by Skype so your location makes no difference. My Hypnotherapy and NLP sessions are available at Mulberry House, the delightful complementary health clinic in the West End of Edinburgh by booking directly with me.  Please scroll through my testimonials on the About page to read about how I have helped others successfully.

For those interested please find below references and links for further reading/viewing:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/food-unwrapped

Click here to see the NHS Choices page on a Mediterranean Diet.

Spector Tim (2015)  THE DIET MYTH  The Real Science Behind What We Eat  Weidenfeld & Nicolson UK

Habermacher Andy (2016)   The Human Brain and Coaching; Emotional Drives and Coaching; Motivational Patterns and Coaching - Excellence in Neuroleadership  International Coaching Federation Webinars  (Book available)

Littlehales Nick (2016)   SLEEP  The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps...and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind  Penguin

 

Summit Life Coaching Limited, Hypnotherapy and NLP - January 2017, amended January 2018.  Not for reproduction without permission please.

 

 

 

"Turn That Frown Upside-down!"

I was walking along the banks of the Water of Leith the other day with my daughter and we came across a couple of things that caught our attention.  First was a grey heron at the river's edge.  These birds do not migrate so perhaps no surprise that it was around, but nonetheless unusual to see such a leggy bird in Edinburgh's city centre. The other surprise was a private GP's clinic advertising cosmetic surgery "to get more 'likes'".  We admired the natural beauty of one, but were antagonised by the artificiality of the other.  Surgery for social media approval seems so sad and superficial.  As we huffed and puffed up the hill home we discussed the Channel 4 programme, "Your Face Says It All".    In the first programme of the series, a young woman of 23 underwent botox treatment for a hard frown line on her face.  Her reasoning was that she felt better after the treatment.  The programme went on to explain that curiously the neuroscience supports that view.  We were told that when we physically smile our "happy chemicals" are triggered, which in turn enhance our mood, and we know that other people are engaged by and respond positively to a smile.  Indeed, as a way to lift one's mood the programme medic recommended sticking a pencil between the lips to cause them to turn up!  

So, it's free self-help and charming...on not-so positive days, remember to "turn that frown upside down!"   

Please do go see your GP, however, if your low mood is persistent or recurrent.

Here is a link to the programme in case you are interested (available until 18 November on 4OD).

"Laughter is the best medicine..."

In the last week laughter has caught my attention - I read about laughter helping the recovery of a stroke victim, attended a neuro-expert's coaching webinar who described laughter as "nutrition for the brain", and had a minute's raucous laughter at my yoga class.  If you need a pick-me-up it's an easy thing to do - and free...just throw away your inhibitions, think of something funny and away you go!  The benefits are significant.  It's even better done with someone else!

10 REASONS TO SMILE

  • It makes you attractive.

  • It changes your mood.

  • It is contagious.

  • It relieves stress.

  • It boosts your immune system.

  • It lowers your blood pressure.

  • It releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin - a natural antidepressant.

  • It lifts the face and makes you look younger.

  • It makes you seem successful.

  • It helps you stay positive.

If you have been through a tricky patch and laughter is missing, why not consider some coaching, NLP or Hypnotherapy for some additional ideas to help get you back to your positive self?  Appointments are available in the lovely Mulberry House Complementary Health Clinic setting or by Skype/Facetime or phone.  Just contact Audrey by email audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk or dial 075 548 54321.

Using the mind to promote healing

Summit Life Coaching Hypnotherapy NLP Blog Promote Healing
Recently a friend injured himself running so, keen to help, I encouraged him to use visualisation techniques to promote a speedy recovery.

Here is a link to the Association for Applied Sports Psychology (USA) on using imagery for injury rehabilitation that's worth a read. It gives information and instruction on how to use this technique. In case you are curious here are some links to research by R. Maddison (2011) and Shackell and Standing (2007) showing how it may help strength and injury recovery.

Hypnosis will help you with guided imagery/visualisation and deep relaxation which I offer in clinic sessions. If you are not in the Edinburgh area to visit Mulberry House I can talk you through how to enhance your visualisation/imagery technique by phone or Skype!

Sometimes unwanted change is forced upon us...

Karen Darke - The Women's time trial H1-3 gold medal champion at the Rio Paralympics.

Karen Darke - The Women's time trial H1-3 gold medal champion at the Rio Paralympics.

As the Paralympic ceremony brings the games to a close we can only be in awe of these amazing dedicated athletes.  Karen is one of them, having been paralysed from the chest down in a climbing accident she has gone on to do more than most of us would dream about like pushing herself along on skis with arms and hand-poles over Greenland, climbing El Capitan and more.  An extraordinary exemplar showing perseverance, resilience, determination, future focus strength of mind and body (and more).  Having met her when she launched her book "If you Fall...It's a New Beginning" I am delighted to see her further success.  She's someone to keep in mind the next time an unwanted change comes our way.