Monday, 10 September 2018

Are long hours and lack of sleep driving you to overeat?

Yesterday I spent almost the whole day thinking about food, searching the cupboards for foods to feed my craving for something sweet, making myself snacks, making coffee. No matter what I ate still felt tired. Nothing really gave me the energy boost I needed. 

It was a long day and eventually it dawned on me that I often used to feel like that all the time but I had forgotten what it felt like. When I was teaching, I often used to think I need a cup of coffee to get my brain in gear, I’ll just have a biscuit to give me an energy boost, I’ll feel better once I have that flapjack. I never considered it to be out of the ordinary as it was probably my average day.

So how come I felt like this today? The night before I had fallen back into an old behaviour and worked late into the night to complete an important project. For years I would often work until the early hours of the morning to get a task finished so it was an old habit that I found easy to slip back into. I thought it would be okay as I didn’t have to be anywhere for important meetings.

The hunger moderating hormones

But I was wrong. I experienced full blast the effects of sleep deprivation, that feeling where you are so tired you crave fats, carbs and sugar to invigorate you so you can get going and get rid of the brain fog. These feelings are caused by ghrelin and leptin - the hunger moderating hormones. 

Ghrelin signals hunger and leptin suppresses hunger and signals that we are full. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body doesn’t produce these hormones in the right proportion and this leaves us feeling hungry and unable to control our cravings.  It is estimated some people eat an extra 300-600 calories a day when they don’t get enough sleep.  

In addition, when we don’t sleep our cortisol levels increase which disrupts our blood glucose levels causing cells to become insulin resistant, which is a precursor for type 2 diabetes as well as weight gain. 

Just 30 fewer minutes sleep a night can increase our risk of getting diabetes or becoming obese. 

So yesterday I ate more than usual. drank two cups of coffee despite not drinking coffee other than weekends any more. And I still felt like rubbish and tired by bedtime. 

So what have I learned? Not to slip back into old habits of being task centred. To know when to say time for bed and to honour to those great routines I have created to manage my wellbeing, my productivity and my weight. 

Is lack of sleep causing your weight gain? Take the leap and create a new routine that allows your body to work with you to manage your weight. Need help to manage your barriers to weight loss? Join my Facebook Group Shift your Mindset Shift your Weight at or book a free discovery call with me at and let’s explore if we’re a match and how I can help. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Is your weight impacting your income?

Did you know that people judge others’ competence based on their weight? And that affects whether they hire and how much they pay. Shocking, isn’t it? And this bias is mostly felt by white women who are already battling the glass ceiling.  

First impressions really do count

This weight-bias, which is often unconscious, is apparently worst at the point of hiring, possibly because people make snap judgements based on appearance where they have no familiarity of the person's skills: judgements such as ‘if you can’t look after yourself, then how can you look after my business’. 

If you are in sales, PR or spend time networking, then you could also be a victim of ‘quick judgements’. We are wired to make a judgement about someone new within seconds and then we look for evidence to confirm that judgement. So if your shirt button has come undone, the person you are meeting will either decide you’ve put on so much weight your clothes don’t fit or that you’ve had a hectic morning and you’ve not noticed you missed a button in your hurry - the difference in judgement being their perception of your weight. 

As a manager, if you have a democratic or laissez-faire style of leadership, through the lens of weight bias your colleagues who perceive you as overweight may describe you as lazy. 

Weight inversely influences salary

According to research in the US, weight can also influence your salary with differences amounting to thousands of dollars. Not only did women’s salaries decrease as they put on weight, but underweight women had higher salaries than women of ‘average’ weight, potentially due to representations of ‘ideal’ and ‘attractive’ body types in the media.  By contrast, men were likely to earn less for being underweight and only likely to earn less again once they became obese.

Confidence issues compound the problem

From personal experience, I found my confidence levels changed as I put on weight. I became more self-conscious about what I was wearing, what people said about me and how they were looking at me. I felt I had to work harder to get recognition for my abilities and was less likely to be considered for promotion. Certainly my career stagnated about the time I had put on lots of weight. 

What can you do?

I certainly don’t support this culture of body shaming and prejudice and believe it should be tackled alongside every other form of discrimination - in law and in the work place. However just like Cheryl Sandberg who urged women to ‘lean in’ while waiting for policy and systems to address gender bias in the workplace, so I urge overweight women to decide whether to challenge, manage or change.

Challenge: When you look around you, how many female members of your senior leadership are overweight? Is that a statistic that needs to be addressed? 

Manage: Create a strong brand image by investing in good quality clothing with a fashionable and flattering cut and design, rather than the ‘baggy look’ so often worn to hide an expanding waistline. Add to that an edgy hair cut and 'acting slim', you can undermine the stereotype that people become dishevelled and don’t care about their looks as they gain weight. 

Change: In the UK 58% of women were designated overweight in 2015. If you don’t want to be that person, be that statistic, earn less that you're worth, you don't need to resort to an extreme diet, you need to review your lifestyle to work out the behaviours that are contributing to your weight gain. In the first place keep a food diary which will allow you to analyse your eating patterns and work out the most important habits to change for greatest impact.  

If you would like support to get you back on track and kick ass in your world again or would like support to hold your hand on a weight-loss journey, message me and we can discuss how I can help you transform your relationship with food.  Or join my Facebook Group Shift your Mindset, Shift your Weight

Monday, 27 August 2018

Creating a diet that's perfect for you

When you hear the word ‘diet’ what do you think of? Deprivation? Starvation? Low-fat labels? Weighing and calorie counting?

Part of the trick for changing your diet mindset will be to change how you think about the word diet. Diet actually encompasses what we have in our life, the nutrition and nourishment we give our whole self, not just following a regime to lose weight. 

We can eat and drink what we want at the end of the day, most of us have that freedom of choice. How lucky are we. We just have to decide if the diet we are feeding ourselves is the one that allows us to be the person we truly are. Is our diet right for us? Does it give us the right energy? Does it feed the right emotions? Does it make us feel well? 

The expression we are what we eat is pretty accurate, so what are you? 

The first place we look for our daily diet is the foods we eat as they are our fuel for the day. When you reflect, are there any foods you would like to change? You may have a few or many. To make long-term change, just start with small changes. A small change can have a big impact.

Look at the positive side of changing first, what foods would you like to add to your life?Consider foods you know that are good for you, that you really enjoy, yet you often forget to eat. Or maybe no-one else in the house eats it so you don’t bother to buy it. I love the simple addition of blueberries to my breakfast knowing they are not only tasty but full of antioxidants and are good for concentration too.  

And is there a food you might like to take away? The real big change I made was to remove refined sugar from my daily diet. It doesn’t mean I never have it, I just choose to eat fresh and homemade foods where possible. A smaller change I made was to get rid of bread from my daily diet. Strangely, I didn’t miss it when I made that decision as I made the choice for me and I feel so much better without it, less heavy, less bloated. Now I just eat it occasionally, making sure when I do that it is amazing quality bread with amazing butter and I savour every mouthful.   

Does your R&R really make you feel good?

What else is in your daily diet that you may need to change to have a healthy-for-you daily diet? Think in terms of how you spend your time - who with and what doing and where. Think of something you could add to your day that would gift you energy and something you could take away that may drain your energy.

I am a bit of a workaholic and after my research on sleep, I added a longer night’s sleep which made me feel so much more energised and ready to face the day. This small, but for me huge, change means that I actually accomplish more in less time on my average day. 

What practise would you like to add to your daily diet? 

And on the other side I took away watching so much TV as I would just collapse on the sofa every night and do nothing that actually made me feel that I had made the most of ‘my’ time. We often make the mistake of associating relaxation with doing nothing, which is a mistake as we are not nourishing ourselves with such habits. In fact, what started out as ‘taking away’ has turned out to be giving to myself. Now I’m out and about, pottering around or doing an activity or reading, unless I choose to watch a film or TV programme that gives me joy. 

What daily habit might you like to take away? 

Do your routines make you feel good?

I love to start my day with a focussing exercise and essential oils to cheer and motivate and finish my day with my gratitude journal. These are all habits I added that make sure I get a huge dollop of positivity and reflection in my daily diet. What small changes could you add? 

Have fun creating a daily diet that creates a positive mindset, gives you energy and makes you feel good. Embrace your whole life, create a diet of energy-giving nutrition and nourishment and live your life today.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Wellbeing Project 9 - Change language to change thinking

Think Yourself Better

Do you find yourself deteriorating into negative thinking or using negative words in your speech the minute you get stressed, feel challenged or something doesn’t go your way? And do you find that the situation then gets worse? You end up feeling depressed or you end up in argument or walking away? And then you go into a further negative thought spiral because you’re disappointed in your ability to handle the situation?

They say it’s easy to think and therefore speak positively when everything is going well, the challenge is to think positively when facing adversity, let alone repeated adversity. It is our mindset, our beliefs, our words that determine how we perceive the problem and our ability to overcome the problem. We can never change what someone else does or the event itself, we can only change our own reaction to their behaviour or the event. 

If we are predisposed to be negative, we need to consciously change the words we use in our thoughts to change our beliefs, our feelings, our energy so we can be the best version of us. How can you make small changes to start changing your thinking and in turn what you believe? 

In the first place, pay attention to your inner voice. How do you talk to yourself? Is the vocabulary you use supportive and encouraging? Or do you blame, accuse or limit yourself? Whatever words or phrases you repeat daily, your brain will eventually believe to be true because it becomes a habit through repeated wiring. So if you continually have angry thoughts, depressing thoughts or dismissive thoughts, you are reinforcing that thought pattern and it becomes a way or life.

You can start to undo it by becoming aware of those thoughts, challenging them and choosing to use different words - affirming, optimistic and respectful words. When you find yourself saying to yourself “I can’t do this,” you can listen to that inner voice or you can take a fly-on-the wall perspective and coach yourself into an alternative belief where you can say “I can do this” or even better “I’ve got this.” Be definitively positive and think as if you are already doing it. 

Don’t tell yourself ‘not to be ridiculous’ in that moment as that’s putting yourself down, find a phrase that you would use for your best friend, maybe ‘Come on, remember to focus on what you want’. Avoid the ‘always’ and ‘never’ thinking trap as that statistically cannot be true and will just undermine you. Find the evidence of what you have done in the past that has worked in similar situations.  

What about the moments, when you find yourself saying ‘but’ to the advice that others are giving you or we are giving ourselves? Yes, sometimes our friends really haven’t understood the problem from our perspective and we need to just acknowledge they are only trying to be helpful and say ‘thank you’. Saying ‘but’ just sends us into a negative thought spiral to a place where we feel powerless, or gets us into an unnecessary argument. Remember the impact when someone says ‘but’ to our idea - we feel deflated or if they do it repeatedly we end up feeling like giving up helping them. What would happen if you removed it from the sentence and replaced it with ‘and’?

And you can look out for these linguistic patterns in your interactions with others. Respond less quickly to the situation, take a moment to breathe and think about the words you could use to change the situation. Use constructive words, to influence their thinking positively. Don’t press their buttons by using ‘always’ or ‘never’ when they’ve done something you’re not happy with. And avoid ‘but’.

Change your language and change your thinking. Change your language and change their thinking. 

Rewire your brain with positive words and think yourself into being the best version of you. 

You’ve got this!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Wellbeing Project 8 - Sleep yourself to good health

Not enough sleep will leave you sleepwalking through life.

For years I went without sleep except at the weekends, working late into the night or into the small hours or even working until it was time to get up and therefore going without any sleep at all. My priority was getting my tasks done for the next day. 

Just over a year ago I started researching how to help Year 11s manage stress and I was shocked at just how important sleep was to managing our wellbeing. Not only is lack of sleep associated with heart disease, depression, Type 2 diabetes and IBS, none of which I had thankfully and I definitely don’t want, but it is also associated with stress, weight gain and obesity (I was overweight) and dementia (my number 1 feared illness over and above cancer) and even higher death rates, especially in women! 

I know from studying NLP that the mind makes memories when we sleep so it shouldn’t have surprised me at the link to dementia. According to a study published at Berkley, it is missing deep non-REM sleep that produces beta-amyloid proteins that are the catalyst for Alzheimers and they aggregate in higher concentrations with poor sleep, and worse, it’s cyclical as they in turn hamper sleep. 

A good night’s sleep is associated with better problem solving, memory recall, performance, productivity and concentration, all things that I prize. So how did I not notice the impact of lack of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 90% of people report being good at tasks when they sleep well as opposed to 46% when they don’t sleep well. Research has shown that lack of sleep increases mistakes. In fact it’s like being drunk: just 17 hours of deprivation is the equivalent of 0.05% alcohol in our blood stream. Think of the effect on driving! The US estimates 100,000 crashes a year are due to sleep deprivation yet would we dare call into work and say I can’t come in today I’m too tired to drive there?

And then I discovered the link with stress. Stress produces cortisol, cortisol interrupts sleep, and lack of sleep produces cortisol. A vicious cycle. In addition, cortisol causes weight gain, impaired brain function and it impairs the immune system. 

Now I could see just how important sleep is, and that I should prioritise it to perform at my best and be healthy, how much sleep do I actually need? From my research, the amount of sleep we need varies between individuals and can be genetically affected. However as a general rule, it appears adults need 7-9 hours, teenagers 8-10 hours and school aged children 9-11 hours. 

Time to change my sleep habits

I had to seriously realign my life to achieve this and I have used NLP to help me change my mindset and my habits. Through coaching, I have worked out that I am task driven and hence I would always be thinking, ‘I’ll just do this,’ ‘I’ll just do that’ and that’s why before I know it, it’s silly o’clock. Using Swish, I changed that thought pattern to, ‘No, it’s time to stop now’ which has helped me to go to bed earlier. I also used my relaxation anchor to induce a relaxed state once I was in bed to get to sleep and I changed my work patterns to reduce my stress levels.

Top tips that help sleep

  1. Getting rid of blue light a good hour before you sleep - no more phone or computer. Blue light inhibits the production of melatonin the chemical that tells our brain that it’s time to sleep. I went back to that old habit of reading before I go to sleep but I can’t stay awake long enough.
  2. Herbal teas - I use chamomile when I put aside the phone. Valerian root, lavender, lemon balm, passion flower, magnolia bark are also believed to help and there is always Sleepytime. Lavender oil on your pillow is also supposed to help.
  3. A bedtime snack - a handful of almonds, a kiwi fruit washed down with cherry juice. Almonds have melatonin that promotes sleep and improves sleep quality, a kiwi fruit, has serotonin to regulate sleep as well as antioxidants, and cherry juice has yet more more melatonin and antioxidants.
  4. A warm bath - to raise your temperature a degree or two and then the cool down relaxes you and promotes deeper sleep. Some people recommend soaking in Epsom salts as the magnesium apparently soaks into your skin and helps sleep. 
  5. Yoga moves or stretches - not full on exercise as that wakes you up, but gentle stretches with a focus on breathing. Although regular exercise is excellent for aiding sleep when done earlier in the day.
  6. A to-do list - it not only gets it out of my head but I can pick it up in the morning to start my day well.
  7. Gratitude - rewires the brain to focus on the positives by remembering good bits of the day, which in turn relaxes us.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Wellbeing Project 7 - No more stress

Success not Stress

Last weekend I found out just how far I had come on my journey of wellbeing and managing stress. Driving to deliver a training session, I realised I had forgotten my USB. 

Surprisingly calm, I called home to ask them to get it out of my trouser pocket from the previous day's outfit and email me the powerpoint I needed for day 3, only to be told it wasn't there. In the past I would have had a meltdown at this point, but instead I assumed I must have left it at the venue the previous day and drove on. When I arrived at the venue I couldn't find it either. Still no meltdown. Instead, I was able to focus on solving the problem of delivering the training rather than obsessing with the lost USB and becoming stressed. 

I couldn't find the USB that night or the next day either. Calmly and logically I looked everywhere and asked everyone who could have seen it. In the past, my self-talk in reaction to something going wrong would have been to call myself every name under the sun -  'idiot', 'loser' being two of the kinder ones. I would also have got into the blame game: it was everyone else's fault and having a go at them. It's not that I didn't consider that someone else had moved it, it's just that I didn't go into a negative mental tirade. 

I even managed not to have a complete hissy fit when I was asked 'haven't you backed it up?' - an unhelpful question that felt loaded with accusation. Backing up my USB was always on my important to-do list but never made it to important and urgent ...

I have been reflecting on how I managed to get to this place in the few weeks since my last blog on managing stress. The key difference was that I didn't seem to have to 'manage' the stress in this situation. It seems to me that everything I have been doing for the past six months to improve my wellbeing has finally come together. In addition, I wonder about the anchor I collapsed two weeks earlier and what effect it had on my reaction that weekend.

The joy of attending and running courses is that everyone gets to try all the techniques, and I got a client to practise the Collapsing an Anchor process on me. I wanted my anchor to slow drivers collapsed as I had spent years commuting 100 miles a day getting annoyed at drivers holding me up by doing 30 in a 60 speed limit in country lanes. For the last two weeks I had discovered the freedom of being free of that anger and free to drive more strategically or just to sing while I wait. 

What I have learned about NLP is that it has knock-on effects: when we change one thing in our life, it impacts on other areas. Perhaps collapsing that anchor was the final key to unlocking a stress-free approach to living, to being solutions-focussed when dealing with pressure.

I really don't want to lose my USB again to find out though!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Wellbeing Project 6 - Managing Stress

Look after your light so you can burn bright

Being stressed causes us to release cortisol that has been described as ‘public health enemy number one’. While some stress can be good for motivating us, chronic stress is associated with inhibiting learning and memory, lowering immune function, weight gain, increase in blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease, as well as depression and mental illness. 

After realising I had been suffering from burn out, I had been focussing on work-life balance and nurturing my wellbeing for months. It was therefore caught off guard when I found myself feeling stressed recently.  

Without realising it, I had got back into old habits and it brought back old experiences that I thought I had let go. What I learned is that we always have to be mindful. It turns out I still struggle to deal with pressure (in this case a huge to-do list) when I don’t follow my morning routine and I don’t get enough sleep.

I’ve posted before about the peripheral vision technique I use to create focus and concentration and get into a peak state, When I don’t do it I end up starting lots of tasks as I’m distracted by the next task that pops into my head - especially if I’m on the computer and the social media alerts and emails are popping up. 

This morning it led me to create a stressful situation for myself. I was feeling overwhelmed by a to-do list that would take all week and I got into an old thought pattern of worrying that I don’t have enough time. And then the unhelpful self-talk started.

Stress is our reaction to pressure. Pressure is created by outside influence and demands, but it is what goes on in our head that creates the stress. We create an internal narrative about an event in the future, an event that hasn’t happened and is therefore not real. And if it’s not real we can change it.

I put into practice some of the techniques we teach for managing our resilience:

  • I remembered to breathe. Just the act of focussing on our breathing brings us back to now and away from the imagined event. I sat down and did that for about 3 minutes.
  • It allowed me to acknowledge the feeling of stress. Accepting that feeling meant I was listening to my body, I could let it go and I could change something. 
  • I changed my negative self talk to how I would speak to my best friend in that situation, kind words and tone with compassion and helpful advice.
  • I reframed my sentences taking out the must/should words that create negativity and a sense of loss of control and instead I focussed on the choices I had.
  • I asked myself what was the worst thing that could happen.
  • I asked myself what was the mostly likely outcome in the situation.
  • I asked myself what was the most important task on my list so that I could prioritise by urgency and importance.

And I told myself that there is time. And that became my mantra for the day. I got to where I needed to go without the drama, with hard work and focus, compassion and being my own inner cheerleader.

Are long hours and lack of sleep driving you to overeat?

Yesterday I spent almost the whole day thinking about food, searching the cupboards for foods to feed my craving for something sweet, mak...