Tag Archives: new year resolutions

New Year Resolutions: Don’t Fail this year

New Year Resolutions: Don’t Fail this year

On January 1st, millions of people began the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. Memberships at health clubs and diet programs soar, whilst sales of chocolate and alcohol decline. People take a long, hard look at their spending habits as they sort through the January bills.

Here in Barcelona, the number of people booking onto my wellness and detox retreats rocket, as do bookings for my fitness and sport holidays. Also, people are signing up to my PilatesEVO online training with excited enthusiasm.

Now we a few days into the New Year and despite all this good intention, most people (hopefully not my clients of course!)  will fail at their resolutions. Come February, most New Year’s resolutions will be a dim memory. How can such apparently strong determination fizzle out so quickly? What can we do to increase the likelihood that our desire for change will translate into permanent positive change?

New Year Resolutions: Don’t Fail this year
Let’s first examine the psychology of the New Year’s Resolution. During the month of December people tend to overindulge in eating, drinking, spending money and neglecting exercise. Rather than moderate these behaviours, we promise ourselves that after the holiday season is over, we will definitely take control. In the meantime, we give ourselves permission to overindulge without guilt. Our resolve is at its peak when we feel full, drunk, or broke. It’s easy to think about going on a diet as we groan from a bloating holiday meal. It’s no problem to plan to quit smoking when we’ve just had a cigarette and replenished our nicotine level. At this point we feel confident about our New Year’s resolutions because we have not yet confronted any prolonged physical deprivation or discomfort.

Chocolate_4

In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.

Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.

time_to_exercise

So why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.

Therefore, if you are going to try to keep your New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure you are ready for the challenge. My experience has shown me time and time again that it possible if you know how. Here are some tips to maximize your success that I use at the PilatesEVO School and at my retreats in Barcelona and also in my online training for clients. My experience is that they really work:

1. Examine your motivation for change
Are you just feeling full and bloated at this moment? Do you have a hangover from last night? Did your last cigarette give you have a hacking cough? Or is there a more enduring reason for your desire to change? If you can’t think of a better reason than the fact that you’re uncomfortable at this moment, then you’re better off not making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep. However, if you are realistic and accept the responsibility of discipline required for change, your motivation will be sustained long after the discomfort from over-indulgence has passed.

2. Set realistic goals
Habits and behaviours that are changed gradually have a greater chance of success.

3. Focus on the behavioural change more than on the goal
For example, if you decide to control your eating, your goal for the day is not to lose a specific number of pounds, but to stick to your program. Such focus on your behaviour will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day.

4. Learn to redefine physical sensations of discomfort
Whenever we restrict ourselves, we have both physical and mental reactions. For example, a smoker feels bodily sensations when his nicotine level drops. However, he has a choice as to how he interprets these symptoms. He can define them as extremely unpleasant, or alternatively he can interpret them as his body cleansing itself of the drug.

5. Make tasks non-negotiable
People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 5:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to exercise, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you’ll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for organising your closet or taking charge of your finances. One can almost always find an excuse not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that’s based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be successful.

6. Allow for imperfection.
No one is exactly on target all the time. In fact you should expect to falter every now and then. If you give in to temptation, do not use this as an excuse to abandon the whole program. Learn from your mistake and move on.

7. Do it now.
If you’re waiting for a more convenient time to begin behavioural change, it won’t happen. It’s almost never convenient to change ingrained habits. Now is just as convenient as any time.

I hope in this blog New Year Resolutions: Don’t Fail this year I have give you some (low fat) food for thought! I could say good luck, but we all know that it has very little to do with luck. It has everything to do with commitment and planning. If you want some help with that then contact me about online support and training, and also my retreats in Barcelona and Ibiza. I am very happy to give free advice because I know how hard it can be to make a lasting change. But everything is possible. How much do you want it?

Chris Hunt PilatesEVO

Chris Hunt is an international consultant and Pilates/functional training presenter and educator based in London and Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, a revolutionary system that uses NLP, mindfulness, meridains and traditional Pilates and kundalini to create a deep practise. He is also the creator of bodyFUNC©, educations that teach how to incorporate old and new practises into any fitness training regime to increase results. He also created Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Based at the PilatesEVO School in Barcelona, he organises Pilates events, retreats, fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona and Ibiza. For more information about training with Chris in Barcelona or online, please click on PilatesEVO or Barcelona Bienestar. You can also subscribe by completing the form on the this BLOG to receive articles and special offers straight to your inbox.

Chris pays all profits made from this BLOG to his charity partners.
Instagram: thechrishunt
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2015 Another Year another diet?

Chris Hunt Wellness Measure

2015 Another Year, another diet. How to succeed this time!

At the start of every New Year, I am asked the same questions about weight loss and diets. Every year magazine editors are urged to end “reckless” promotion of “irresponsible, short-term solutions” to weight loss, and reduce the pressure to conform to “impossible” stereotypes that damage women and men by lowering self-esteem while promoting depression and eating disorders. Yet still the post-Christmas editions of magazines were publishing with cover lines such as “Festive Flab fighter! Lose 7lb in 7 days” and “Flat tum tricks! Try our 3-day diet plan.”

The stories I have heard from my clients who have joined me on my weight-loss, detox and health retreats in Barcelona and Ibiza with my company Barcelona Bienestar (www.barcelonabienestar.com) has taught me that people who are desperate to loss weight are willing to try any latest fad to get results. What I try to do is to educate people so they leave one of my retreats with new knowledge and inspiration.

The World Health Organisation has talked about halving the amount of sugar that it recommends people should have in their diet, reducing down to 5% the number of total calories. Let me explain how these two issues are related.

Recent Evidence
Robert Lustig, a American academic who has spent 16 years treating obese children, believes that most diets, even combined with exercise, do not last long. Almost any change of lifestyle works for the first three to six months, he says, but then the weight comes rolling back on leaving the dieter often at a loss to understand why the fat is returning. In fact, says Lustig in his book, Fat Chance, which draws on more than 300 scientific papers, today’s children in the developed world are likely to be the first to die younger than their parents because they are being slowly poisoned by a colossal dietary error a generation ago.

It’s a big claim, based on a simple premise: when the Americans were hunting for the cause of rising rates of heart disease in the 1960s and the 1970s, there were two candidates. One was sugar and the other was dietary fat such as cholesterol. The Americans decided fat was the enemy and by the 1980s a low-fat diet was being recommended in a message that spread worldwide. As the £1.2 trillion industry removed fat from processed products, it raised sugar levels to keep them palatable.

“The goal was to alter our diet for the better,” says Lustig. “Instead, we’ve laid waste to every nutritional hypothesis, lost the public’s trust and killed countless millions.” The fundamental change in our diet that resulted helps to explain why nearly 4,000 American teenagers are now diagnosed annually with type-2 diabetes — once so rare in the young that it was known as “adult” diabetes — and why more than 40% of US death certificates list diabetes, up from 13% two decades ago. The UK, says Lustig, is “right behind”.

A sugary surfeit
Even giving young children organic juice instead of the whole fruit can set them on a path of sugar addiction that leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and possibly dementia, he warns. Why? The answer is food is processed differently when it arrives in a sugary surfeit. Fructose, a component of sugar, gets metabolised into fat, including a dangerous form of liver fat. It also activates a liver enzyme, setting off a chain reaction that makes the pancreas release more insulin, the hormone that tells the body to store energy as fat.

The majority of humans, regardless of weight, release twice as much insulin as they did 30 years ago. This extra insulin is believed to block a signal from another hormone, leptin, that tells the brain when you can stop eating. Without this signal, the brain boosts your appetite even if you are full and sends you to the sofa to conserve energy. Something similar happens in a diet of the kind that involves skipping meals.

Your leptin concentrations drop faster than your fat stores. You have not lost any weight yet. But your fat cells tell your brain you are starving, your sympathetic nervous system goes into energy-conservation mode and the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with the abdomen, goes into overdrive, boosting your appetite and ordering the release of insulin to tell your body to store some fat.

Our Second Brain
This raises another important topic, that of our “second brain”. As well as the one in your head, our bodies contain a separate nervous system that comprises an  estimated 500 million neurons. Embedded in the wall of the gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS) not only controls digestion, it also plays an important role in our  physical and mental well-being. It can work both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head, and your ENS helps you sense environmental threats and then influences your response. Your ENS oversees your digestion, and it alerts the brain if it finds dangerous invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

The “feel good” molecule
Our second brain produces a wide range of hormones and around 40 neurotransmitters. This is important as also transmitting signals in your ENS is serotonin, the “feel good” molecule that prevents depression and regulates sleep, body  temperature and crucially appetite. Research has shown that nerve signals sent from the gut to the brain do affect our mood. These signals may also explain why fatty foods make us feel good, as when ingested, fatty acids are detected by cell receptors in the gut which send nerve signals to the brain. Why is all this important? Simply because a lot of information about our environment comes from out gut. You are what you eat?

Lustig challenges assumptions by dieticians and doctors that to lose weight we must eat less or exercise more; that a   calorie is a calorie, wherever it comes from; and that to shed the pounds we need fewer calories. Not true, he says. The type of food we eat is crucial. Successful diets do exist and have two things in common: they are low in sugar and high in fibre.

Flawed Diets
Even some popular diets work, although they are flawed. The Atkins diet, a low-carbohydrate regime in which you keep the burger but ditch the bun, is effective for weight loss and improved metabolic health. But it can result in inadequate micronutrients and compromised bone health. The Ornish diet, a low-fat, no-fun diet has been proven not only to promote weight loss but to reverse heart disease. The Mediterranean diet — olive oil, legumes (beans, lentils and peas), fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains, dairy products and eggs, fish and wine in moderation — is excellent, as is the South Beach diet, which keeps insulin low, has plenty of fibre, and avoids added sugar.

But the number of people who can stick to any diet is exceedingly small. So the key is to follow some other simple principles, chief among them shopping on the periphery of the supermarket, where the “real food” is kept, not on the shelves.  Real food does not have, or need, a label showing nutritional values. The more labels you read, the more rubbish is in your trolley. Real food takes time to cook but eating it will raise your levels of micronutrients and reduce your fructose. “If you eat real food, your weight will take care of itself, just as it did for the 50,000 years since irrigation and the taming of fire,” says Lustig. “We have no choice but to try to recreate the kind of food supply our grandparents had, before the food processors tainted it.” To make sure, take all your recipes and cut the amount of sugar by a third. And do not forget to exercise.

Traffic light food guide
Lustig uses traffic lights to divide food into three types, a system that might help you with your food choices: greens are “real” foods you can eat as often as you like; yellows are “minimally processed” and can be consumed three to five times a week; and highly processed reds are to be avoided or are for rare occasions.

Green foods include high-fibre cereals such as porridge and shredded wheat. Eggs, milk, grass-fed beef, wild fish, lamb, turkey and free-range chicken can also be eaten without restraint, as can wild or brown rice, whole-grain bread, and home-made salad dressing. Nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, plain yoghurt, beans, butter, cheddar cheese — you don’t have to think, just put them in your trolley. Overall, the green foods are high in fibre and low in sugar and “bad” omega-6 and trans fats. They also include tea, coffee and red wine in moderation.

Yellow foods include whole-grain pasta, pitta bread, baked beans, dried fruit and processed meats such as bacon, salami and hamburgers.

The red list has the surprises. Some foods we think of as healthy — bagels, baked potatoes, basmati rice, couscous, fruit juice, rice cakes — are in the danger zone with white bread, pizza and doughnuts.

Don’t compromise your long-term health by believing the fads and trying too hard to lose weight too quickly. By nourishing your body you nourish your second brain, which can all help you feel and look much better, and with an appropriate exercise regime, help you lose weight in a controlled and sustainable way. And after all, that’s what most of us want isn’t it?

Chris Hunt is an international Pilates and functional training presenter and educator based in London and Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also created Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. He organises retreats, fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona and Ibiza. For more information about training with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris Hunt, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? You can also subscribe by completing the form on the this BLOG to receive articles and special offers straight to your inbox.

Chris Hunt pays all profits made from this BLOG to his charity partners. More details can be found by clicking on www.chrishuntwellness.com and selecting the “charity partners” tab.

 

How to keep your New Year Resolutions this time

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www.chrishuntwellness.com

Chris Hunt Wellness Runner

www.chrishuntwellness.com

This is Part One of my blog about New Year’s Resolutions, Part Two will follow soon.

On January 1st, millions of people begin the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. Memberships at health clubs and diet programs soar, whilst sales of chocolate and alcohol decline. People take a long, hard look at their spending habits as they sort through the January bills.

Yet despite all this good intention, most people will fail at their resolutions. Come February, most New Year’s resolutions will be a dim memory. How can such apparently strong determination fizzle out so quickly? What can we do to increase the likelihood that our desire for change will translate into permanent positive change?

Chris Hunt Wellness  Healthy Eating

Let’s first examine the psychology of the New Year’s Resolution. During the month of December people tend to overindulge in eating, drinking, spending money and neglecting exercise. Rather than moderate these behaviours, we promise ourselves that after the holiday season is over, we will definitely take control. In the meantime, we give ourselves permission to overindulge without guilt. Our resolve is at its peak when we feel full, drunk, or broke. It’s easy to think about going on a diet as we groan from a bloating holiday meal. It’s no problem to plan to quit smoking when we’ve just had a cigarette and replenished our nicotine level. At this point we feel confident about our New Year’s resolutions because we have not yet confronted any prolonged physical deprivation or discomfort.

In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.

Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.

Pilates Group

Why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.

Therefore, if you are going to make New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure you are ready for the challenge. Read Part Two of this blog for some tips to maximize your success.

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Another year, another new diet? How to suceed this time around

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Image

Last year, Jo Swinson, a UK business minister, urged magazine editors to end “reckless” promotion of “irresponsible, short-term solutions” to weight loss, and reduce the pressure to conform to “impossible” stereotypes that damage women and men by lowering self-esteem while promoting depression and eating disorders. It was a too late to stop the post-Christmas editions of magazines with cover lines such as “Festive Flab fighter! Lose 7lb in 7 days” and “Flat tum tricks! Try our 3-day diet plan.”

Last week, the World Health Organisation said that it was considering halving the amount of sugar that it recommends people should have in their diet, reducing down to 5% the number of total calories. Let me explain how these two issues are related.

New Evidence
A book released last year tried to explain the truth about diets. Robert Lustig, a American academic who has spent 16 years treating obese children, believes Swinson is right: most diets, even combined with exercise, do not last long. Almost any change of lifestyle works for the first three to six months, he says, but then the weight comes rolling back on leaving the dieter often at a loss to understand why the fat is returning. In fact, says Lustig in his book, Fat Chance, which draws on more than 300 scientific papers, today’s children in the developed world are likely to be the first to die younger than their parents because they are being slowly poisoned by a colossal dietary error a generation ago.

It’s a big claim, based on a simple premise: when the Americans were hunting for the cause of rising rates of heart disease in the 1960s and the 1970s, there were two candidates. One was sugar and the other was dietary fat such as cholesterol. The Americans decided fat was the enemy and by the 1980s a low-fat diet was being recommended in a message that spread worldwide. As the £1.2 trillion industry removed fat from processed products, it raised sugar levels to keep them palatable.

“The goal was to alter our diet for the better,” says Lustig. “Instead, we’ve laid waste to every nutritional hypothesis, lost the public’s trust and killed countless millions.” The fundamental change in our diet that resulted helps to explain why nearly 4,000 American teenagers are now diagnosed annually with type-2 diabetes — once so rare in the young that it was known as “adult” diabetes — and why more than 40% of US death certificates list diabetes, up from 13% two decades ago. The UK, says Lustig, is “right behind”.

A sugary surfeit
Even giving young children organic juice instead of the whole fruit can set them on a path of sugar addiction that leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and possibly dementia, he warns. Why? The answer is food is processed differently when it arrives in a sugary surfeit. Fructose, a component of sugar, gets metabolised into fat, including a dangerous form of liver fat. It also activates a liver enzyme, setting off a chain reaction that makes the pancreas release more insulin, the hormone that tells the body to store energy as fat.

The majority of humans, regardless of weight, release twice as much insulin as they did 30 years ago. This extra insulin is believed to block a signal from another hormone, leptin, that tells the brain when you can stop eating. Without this signal, the brain boosts your appetite even if you are full and sends you to the sofa to conserve energy. Something similar happens in a diet of the kind that involves skipping meals.

Your leptin concentrations drop faster than your fat stores. You have not lost any weight yet. But your fat cells tell your brain you are starving, your sympathetic nervous system goes into energy-conservation mode and the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with the abdomen, goes into overdrive, boosting your appetite and ordering the release of insulin to tell your body to store some fat.

Our Second Brain
This raises another important topic, that of our “second brain”. As well as the one in your head, our bodies contain a separate nervous system that comprises an  estimated 500 million neurons. Embedded in the wall of the gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS) not only controls digestion, it also plays an important role in our  physical and mental well-being. It can work both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head, and your ENS helps you sense environmental threats and then influences your response. Your ENS oversees your digestion, and it alerts the brain if it finds dangerous invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

The “feel good” molecule
Our second brain produces a wide range of hormones and around 40 neurotransmitters. This is important as also transmitting signals in your ENS is serotonin, the “feel good” molecule that prevents depression and regulates sleep, body  temperature and crucially appetite. Research has shown that nerve signals sent from the gut to the brain do affect our mood. These signals may also explain why fatty foods make us feel good, as when ingested, fatty acids are detected by cell receptors in the gut which send nerve signals to the brain. Why is all this important? Simply because a lot of information about our environment comes from out gut. You are what you eat?

Lustig challenges assumptions by dieticians and doctors that to lose weight we must eat less or exercise more; that a   calorie is a calorie, wherever it comes from; and that to shed the pounds we need fewer calories. Not true, he says. The type of food we eat is crucial. Successful diets do exist and have two things in common: they are low in sugar and high in fibre.

Flawed Diets
Even some popular diets work, although they are flawed. The Atkins diet, a low-carbohydrate regime in which you keep the burger but ditch the bun, is effective for weight loss and improved metabolic health. But it can result in inadequate micronutrients and compromised bone health. The Ornish diet, a low-fat, no-fun diet has been proven not only to promote weight loss but to reverse heart disease. The Mediterranean diet — olive oil, legumes (beans, lentils and peas), fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains, dairy products and eggs, fish and wine in moderation — is excellent, as is the South Beach diet, which keeps insulin low, has plenty of fibre, and avoids added sugar.

But the number of people who can stick to any diet is exceedingly small. So the key is to follow some other simple principles, chief among them shopping on the periphery of the supermarket, where the “real food” is kept, not on the shelves.  Real food does not have, or need, a label showing nutritional values. The more labels you read, the more rubbish is in your trolley. Real food takes time to cook but eating it will raise your levels of micronutrients and reduce your fructose. “If you eat real food, your weight will take care of itself, just as it did for the 50,000 years since irrigation and the taming of fire,” says Lustig. “We have no choice but to try to recreate the kind of food supply our grandparents had, before the food processors tainted it.” To make sure, take all your recipes and cut the amount of sugar by a third. And do not forget to exercise.

Traffic light food guide
Lustig uses traffic lights to divide food into three types, a system that might help you with your food choices: greens are “real” foods you can eat as often as you like; yellows are “minimally processed” and can be consumed three to five times a week; and highly processed reds are to be avoided or are for rare occasions.

Green foods include high-fibre cereals such as porridge and shredded wheat. Eggs, milk, grass-fed beef, wild fish, lamb, turkey and free-range chicken can also be eaten without restraint, as can wild or brown rice, whole-grain bread, and home-made salad dressing. Nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, plain yoghurt, beans, butter, cheddar cheese — you don’t have to think, just put them in your trolley. Overall, the green foods are high in fibre and low in sugar and “bad” omega-6 and trans fats. They also include tea, coffee and red wine in moderation.

Yellow foods include whole-grain pasta, pitta bread, baked beans, dried fruit and processed meats such as bacon, salami and hamburgers.

The red list has the surprises. Some foods we think of as healthy — bagels, baked potatoes, basmati rice, couscous, fruit juice, rice cakes — are in the danger zone with white bread, pizza and doughnuts.

Don’t compromise your long-term health by believing the fads and trying too hard to lose weight too quickly. By nourishing your body you nourish your second brain, which can all help you feel and look much better, and with an appropriate exercise regime, help you lose weight in a controlled and sustainable way. And after all, that’s what most of us want isn’t it?

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