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Let’s talk about depression… Part 1: Is it real?

ImageLet’s talk about depression


So Let’s talk about depression. One of my aims for this blog is not to write all pretty and happy articles, but to try to talk about real issues however uncomfortable or taboo they are. I am a consultant and fitness professional, so I am not an expert on all the topics I talk about, but what I say comes from my heart.

So, the “season to be jolly” is fading fast. But the sad fact is that this time of year is also a desperate time for many people. I wrote recently about dementia (see my blog “I lost my father, don’t lose yours”) and how it is still for many people a taboo subject, whilst for many other it is totally misunderstood. The same could be said about depression, so let’s try to blow the lid on that as well.

It’s been reported recently that as many as three quarters of a million young people in the UK may feel that they have nothing to live for. A study for the Prince’s Trust charity says almost a third of long-term unemployed young people have contemplated taking their own lives.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index was based on interviews with 2,161 16 to 25-year-olds. The report found 9% of all respondents agreed with the statement: “I have nothing to live for” and said if 9% of all youngsters felt the same, it would equate to some 751,230 young people feeling they had nothing to live for. The research found that long-term unemployed young people were more than twice as likely as their peers to have been prescribed anti-depressants.  One in three (32%) had contemplated suicide, while one in four (24%) had self-harmed. The report found 40% of jobless young people had faced symptoms of mental illness, including suicidal thoughts, feelings of self-loathing and panic attacks, as a direct result of unemployment. Three quarters of long-term unemployed young people (72%) did not have someone to confide in, the study found.

I talked from personal experience about dementia having lost my father to the disease. I can also talk from some personal experience of depression, as I have several family members and friends who have in the past suffered from this debilitating illness.


Let’s talk about depression and talking
First and most important, no one should be ashamed or embarrassed to be talking about depression. If you think worse of anyone who has or is suffering from depression, then with respect this really is your problem, and you should definitely read on! If you still think that depression is just an excuse to stay in bed and be lazy, a pathetic reason to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self-pity, and that people who say they have depression should “man-up”, pull themselves together and stop feeling sorry for themselves, then again, please read this blog. It might make you begin to realise that you are totally wrong. In fact hopelessly wrong.

I do have sympathy for people who do not understand depression because it is difficult to empathise with something you have never suffered from. I mean, how can it be a real illness when you cannot see it? So let’s get one thing clear from the start. It is an illness. A real, bonafide illness that can be clinically proven. At its worst, it is as totally debilitating as any physical illness, making what most people consider a “normal” life impossible.

The worst thing you can say to someone suffering from depression is to “pull themselves together”, “stop being so pathetic”, “stand up for yourself”, “snap out of it”, and many other nuggets of similar ignorance that I have heard in the past. Why is this such a bad approach? It’s simple if you stop to think. Most people who are depressed already feel useless and hopeless. For you to point out and confirm that fact to them only reinforces their negative self-belief. It makes them feel even more inadequate because they know they are incapable of doing any of those things for them self however much they want to.

The roots of depression are varied, and it’s not my intention here to go into details as to causes. What I want to do is get people talking and thinking. And to stress that people suffering from depression need your support, not your judgement or criticism. It’s not easy not to judge, not to have a holier than thou attitude. In fact I think it’s the mark of a real man who does not judge, who can offer a hand of support and understanding.

Let’s talk about depression and exercise
As a fitness professional and creator of PilatesEVO, a mind and body system, I cannot stress enough the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise to help deal with many mental and physical issues. As my dementia article pointed out, there is a proven link that what’s good for your body is also good for your brain. By exercising regularly and eating healthily, many people can really improve their physical and mental condition. But this is not always the only answer, sometimes people need professional help.

My experience of depression was one of the reasons that led me to discover meditation and make it an integral part of PilatesEVO. I thoroughly recommend this to everyone whether you are suffering from depression or not. It doesn’t require hours of sitting in the lotus position either. 20 minutes a day is a good start.  As the saying goes, if you do not have enough time to do 20 minutes meditation, then no problem, do 30 minutes. 🙂

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, don’t judge or offer them advice. They don’t need that and it doesn’t help. They need your understanding and support. Question is, can you give them only that?

In tomorrow’s blog I will give you some ways to deal with negative thoughts, and ways to try to stay positive. So, see you tomorrow.


“What is twerking?” Google has all the answers



Google have released the details of the most common searches from the UK during 2013, and there are a few surprises.

Facebook remains the most common search, but with 800 million users world-wide (I cannot help but wonder if clearly these people have access to a computer and the internet, why they do who actually doesn’t know what Facebook is?) “how to lose weight” is another common question, and it is encouraging to know that a lot of people are at least asking this question, let’s hope that they a good answer: exercise and diet with a big helping of Pilates EVO ;). The list provided by Google is a good guide to the “buzz” words of the previous year, so it’s no surprise that Twerking features so prominently. I’m thinking of releasing the next new fitness crazy as part of my bodyFUNC© franchise, bodyFUNC Twerk-fit. You heard it here first folks! So no one need doubt Ms Cyrus’ game-plan as it is clearly working.

The fastest rising personality was Paul Walker, due to his tragic and untimely death. Gone too soon… Margaret Thatcher also was popular as was Nelson Mandela so in death this world-leaders at least keep their legacy and the public’s interest alive. The late great Lou Reed also featured highly, so again it’s nice to think that a new generation of music fans will keep his memory alive.

Social and political trends are also clear. Rightmove, the housing website grew in popularity in line with rising house prices, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London was the most popular political search. Other interesting seasonal searches included “how to make pancakes”, “how to play guitar”, “how to get a flat stomach”, and “how to reset an iPod”. I am very proud to say that I did not feel the need to use any of these search terms. It doesn’t take much to make me proud clearly, but you can be sure that I can cook a mean pancake and keep my flat stomach!

It will come as no surprise that no only are pornographic searches excluded from these figure, but that they would feature at the top of most categories. Some things never change, but whilst the internet in general and Google in particular are much maligned, they are of course here to stay and give us an interesting insight as to how the minds of people work.

Here is the full list of “most searched”:

BBC News
Daily Mail

Escape the Rat Race. If I can do it, so can you!

Chris Hunt PilatesEVO


Escape the rat race. Is it possible?  5.45 am and I’m woken up by the piercing “Beep Beep” of my alarm jarring through my brain. I tried bird-song and babbling brooks but nothing changed the fact that it was 5.45 am and I had to get up, get ready, then go fight for a seat on the train to the City. I knew exactly (to the nearest centimetre) where to stand on the platform so a door would stop right in front of me, but the train was usually full already so my military precision was usually pointless.

After this wonderful journey into the centre London listening to other people’s “tinny” music leaking from inadequate headphones and enjoying their wet umbrella’s slowly dampening my trousers and my spirits at the same time, I would spend the day working in my role as Claims Manager for a large insurance company. I really enjoyed my work but felt constrained by the out-dated philosophies and attitudes I saw everyday. Lunchtime was an oasis that I’d spend in the gym. Sound familiar? I am sure this is a daily routine shared by many.

That was then… But this is now. I am a Senior Business Consultant and I also specialise in wellness, presenting Pilates and functional training all around the world. I am my own boss in everything I do, and I really feel that I am making a positive difference to people’s lives, and I am living in the place that from when a was a small boy I dreamed of living.

Pilates EVO Education Ukraine
Pilates EVO Education Ukraine

“I would of course love to pursue my dream as a/an ………….. (insert dream job here) but I could not possible do it because (delete as applicable) I’m too old / of the mortgage / of the children / I’m not good at learning new things / I can’t do my own accounts / I have no marketing experience / any other excuse you can think of.” Other people keep the thought in their head that “I could give up this life I do not enjoy but when the time is right”. Of course the time is never right, but they get some comfort believing that they could if only… They are the same people who say they could give up smoking, they could give up over eating, they could start exercising, they could learn Spanish but surprise surprise, it never happens. There is always an excuse not to.

I lost my father a few years later, and that along with some other events gave me the final push to achieve my life-long dream and move to Barcelona. Another big challenge, another “out of comfort zone” experience. But as they say, that’s when we grow the most.

So how can we go from a life of “coulds” to actually taking action? It makes sense to have a gradual change, maybe pursing your new career in your spare time first, so you have the financial security of still earning money and also save some money. This does mean working long hours, but what better motivation than to know that one day you will have the career change you have always dreamed about. It’s not a compromise to start part time, it’s just sensible. As long as you have a plan, an end game, and you stick to it. Don’t end up doing two jobs forever!

It’s essential to have a plan. When I say that to people, they say “Aha, but you are Buddhist and you always say about living in the Now and not in the future” as if they have found a vital flaw in my philosophy. But I politely point out that with no plan, we have no direction. Planning per se is not a bad thing to do, but there are rules. One golden rule of planning is that plans change! So be prepared for that. It’s like driving on a long journey at night. We know our final destination (otherwise we would drive around aimlessly) and we have a map so we know where we are going and how we will get there, but at any one time we can only see 100 metres ahead of us. Maybe our route will change because of unforeseen problems, but we will be flexible and we will arrive at our destination. You do not need to be able to see your destination to get there. Enjoy the journey, one step at a time, but always knowing that you will get to where you want to be.

Pilates EVO Hamburg Educations
Pilates EVO Hamburg Educations

But you must be careful about your new career. Your business should be a means rather than an end, a vehicle to enrich your life rather than one that drains the life you have. The worst thing you can do is start working for yourself and end up working so hard and stressing so much that you hate your job! It’s such a common mistake, people see the romantic notion of being their own boss, but after the initial euphoria, they realise that they are working harder and longer than they were before. At least working for someone else they could leave work, go home and relax. But now their job is with them every waking hour, they live it. And the dream turns into a nightmare because instead of having a boss for your job, your job has become your boss! And it’s no fun. In fact it’s less fun than your old job working for someone else. You can’t take holidays because the work won’t get done. You can’t be ill, you can hardly stop to think. Your social life is nonexistent, yet you carry on thinking that your hard work will pay off one day. Maybe it will, but more often it won’t, and many people end up giving up and getting a “normal” job again. The important point here is that no matter what you thought before, your business should not be your life. Your business should serve your life, and not the other way around.

Pilates EVO Masterclass at Pilates Carnival Krakow
Pilates EVO Masterclass at Pilates Carnival Krakow

There’s a saying that great businesses are not built by extraordinary people but by ordinary people doing extraordinary things. So how can an ordinary person do extraordinary things? By having a system and a plan. Again it’s the “p” word. Have a plan and stick to it! Things will change, but always know where you are aiming to get and how you will get there. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Friends and parents will help of you ask. They will see the changes you are trying to make and if they are really on your side then they will help. And of course, make sure you have the support of your partner. It sounds so obvious and yet I know many people who think they can make such a big decision on their own. You must expect hard times and up and downs. It’s normal and natural. Remember the old cliché, we grow the most when we are out of our comfort zone. I can confirm from experience that this is so true! So much so that I try to stay out of my comfort zone as often as possible.

I could continue writing for pages and pages about Business Plans, marketing, SMART targets, feasibility studies, SWOT analysis/matrix etc etc, but that is not the point of this article. The point is to show you there is another way. You can change your life. You control and create your own Universe, you really do. You always have a choice. Always. Every journey begins with the first step. But it will never begin unless you take that step. I’m not special. If I can do it then so can you.

Pilates EVO Education Moscow
Pilates EVO Education Moscow

6.00 am and I’m woken up by my alarm. I still get up early and I work very hard, but now it’s very different, it’s my choice. Maybe I will go for a run on the beach or an early morning swim before I start work and before the rest of the world wakes up. That’s the difference now. Choice and control. And it’s a great difference. I still regularly go into The City and I deal with my old contacts, but now it’s for my own company so it’s on my terms. It feels a very different place.

The moral of my story in 11 words? It’s not too late, you have the rest of your life. And if there is any way I can help, then please just ask.

Chris is a Senior Business Consultant and international Pilates and Wellness presenter and educator based in London and Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©.  He also created Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. He organises fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona, as well as retreats. For more information please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, 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.