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Who is influencing you?

In this post we look at the most influential people in health and fitness…and question if they are the people you really want to be influenced by?

A little while ago, I was catching up on news in my email inbox, and I found this, a list of The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness. I spent some time reading the list, and I was delighted to see some people on there who are positive influences on me, like the excellent Mark Sisson, and the dependable blogger Yoni Freedhoff, and the personal development guru Tony Robbins.

I was delighted to see some of the people I go to for learning, such as the always-brilliant Robb Wolf, the writer I aspire to emulate, Michael Pollan, and the excellent Natalie Jill who makes fitness so easy and approachable for so many people.

So I think there are some great people on this list, there is Dr Mark Hyman, the ever-inspirational Arnold Schwarzenegger, nutrition guru Gary Taubes and the highly agreeable Josh Axe. I am pleased to find two people on the list that I have actually met and shaken hands with.

But I also find some things about this list rather alarming. I decided to look at what skills it takes to become one of the most influential people on Earth in health and fitness. The article defines how they compiled the list –

“A note about our methodology: This list is intended to highlight people who had the greatest impact and reach in health and wellness—they’re not necessarily people we personally endorse.

The order is determined by a long list of criteria. We started with a list of nearly 300 individuals nominated by the Greatist staff and Greatist ambassador network. We then created a scoring system based on the following categories: followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube; studies published; professional degrees and certifications; number of Google News mentions; number of products created (including starring TV and film roles); brand partnerships; and an estimate of how much each person’s career focuses on fitness and health.

We purposefully excluded most health care executives, professional athletes, and spiritual leaders, unless we felt they strongly contributed to health, fitness, or mental health.”

I ran some counts down the list, not exactly scientific, but the best I could do in just an hour or so, and I counted that the list includes, roughly, the following: Read more

Mother Nature’s Diet – 6 years later, and the experts are starting to agree…

You may be interested in reading this editorial, which includes a number of statements from one of the leaders of a study called the PURE Study.

The quotes I find to be particularly interesting are:

“…many of the most significant and impactful nutrition recommendations regarding dietary fats, salt, carbohydrates, and even vegetables are not supported by evidence.”

“Yusuf displayed data showing that the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the PURE population increases as carbohydrate intake (as a percentage of total calories) rises.”

“Previous guidelines said reduce fats and compensate for it by increasing carbohydrates … and so essentially we’ve increased carbohydrate intake in most Western countries and this is likely damaging. We were in for a big surprise. We actually found that increasing fats was protective.”

6 years later…

For the last six years we have been promoting Mother Nature’s Diet as the best all-round healthy lifestyle for living a preventive medicine lifestyle. It seems now that research, such as the findings from the PURE Study reported above, are coming out in support of the Mother Nature’s Diet way of life. We suggest laying off processed grains and starchy carbs, and we promote Read more

The fad diet pretending not to be a fad diet…

The latest thing in the world of fad diets, is to strongly deny that you are in fact selling a fad diet!

I read a lot of books, and they are not all good. I read all sorts of books in the name of learning, including diet books. I make it my business to read lots of diet books, just so that I am aware of what’s going on in the diet industry and I am constantly looking to learn, to pick up nuggets of information. In my experience, the great majority of fad diets actually do have some kind of science or common sense at their core, there is usually a good idea at the foundation, it’s just a shame that all too often it become lost in the commercialisation, or twisted all out of shape in the excessive detail.

And so it is this week, I am reading a diet book, it’s rather well known, so I shall not name the book, as I am not in the business of speaking ill of others, but the text has amused me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Throughout the book, from the very start, the text repeatedly states that this is not a fad diet, that “unlike most fad diets, this…” is different, and that ‘they don’t work’, but what’s in this book does. The book explains that “when you are on [this system] you are not on a constant treadmill, dieting all the time” but then in the very next sentence, it explains that you have ‘diet days’ and ‘non-diet days’ and so if you want a bar of chocolate, just have the will power to resist it one day and then… “You can have it tomorrow”!

Oh my word!

Throughout this best-selling book, and I must have read statements that “this is different, this is not a fad diet” at least twenty to twenty five times. Yet here are some of the other things I have read – quoted directly from the text:

“While you are doing it” [The diet, they mean.]

“Our regime of exercises”

The book states that “…in order to be effective, the method…needs to go on holiday with you…you need to be able to do it in the office…you need to be able to cope with Christmas” and then on those same pages, they spell out strict days counting calories, strict days checking your macros, balancing proteins and carbs, and they spell out meal timings and when you should eat.

The book is even called “The [X name] Diet” – surely that’s a sign of a diet???!!!??

“Unlike deprivation diets…on this plan…tomorrow there may be pancakes for breakfast, wine with supper, apple pie with cream.”

The text instructs you to “cut your calories on [this] day”…but tomorrow “you can eat as normal.”

“Tomorrow you can eat as normal” – is the very stereotypical wording of a fad diet! Modify your behaviour X way for a few days, massively cutting calories, then eat chocolate bars and apple pie tomorrow!! If that’s not a fad diet, I don’t know what is!

The book talks constantly of weight loss as the primary goal, and of cutting and counting calories as the principle method to achieve this weight loss, of severely calorie restricted days, it spells out low calorie recipes, daily meal plans for low calorie days, and then uses phrases like “Unlike full-time fad diets, you’ll still get pleasure from food, you’ll still have treats…” They are trying to distance themselves from the world of ‘slimming clubs’ which restrict calories but award ‘sin points’ or ‘red points’ to treats, allowing you ‘a little of what you fancy’ within a system of counting numbers – calories, macros, sins, sugar, etc. Yet in effect, this diet is exactly the same – caloric restriction some days, and ‘eat your treats’ on others.

The book describes the dangers of ‘hedonic eating’ and the text claims Read more

Doing what you have to do, versus doing what you want to do…

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in all the tasks we have to do…and forget to give ourselves time to enjoy.

There is an art to finding balance in how we live our lives.

From a statement like that, we could go off in all manner of directions; around diet and ‘moderation in all things’; around exercise and the benefits of variety; around relationships, careers and more. Rather than exploring any or all such topics in depth, let’s just look at one angle, the work-life balance. And by ‘work’ I don’t just mean ‘career’ or ‘your job’, I mean the broader work-life balance, the balance between always doing what you have to do, versus doing what you want to do. In our modern high-speed lives we always have so much to do.

Some of this is real – that leak in the conservatory roof must get fixed, because every time it rains water is pouring in and it’s making a mess, filling buckets, staining the floor, so this is an urgent task that must be attended to, it’s no use saying “I’ll do that next month”. But many of the things we find ourselves striving to get done are not so essential, or at least not so urgent; often they are self-imposed rules we feel we should live by, or goals we feel we must achieve to fit in, to meet certain social or societal standards, to keep up with the Jones’s. We don’t want our lawn to look unkempt compared to our neighbours; we must attend that parent–teacher association meeting at our child’s school; we must wear certain clothes, look a certain way, earn a certain amount, drive a certain type of car.

Constant overwhelm

It’s not to say there is anything wrong with helping out at the parent–teacher association, or driving a BMW, or having an immaculately manicured lawn, there isn’t, these are all good things. But the problem is, we often find our lives become completely swamped in all these things, between parenting, working full time, trying to stay fit and healthy, keeping up family contacts and obligations, maintaining the home and more, so often we feel utterly overwhelmed with it all. I speak to people almost daily who joke (but they are only half-joking) something like “I go to work for a rest!” Often we find the weekend is busier than the working week.

I feel this myself sometimes…I pour my energy into my working week, it has structure and purpose, I have objectives for the week, and I work hard to get those things done. Working from home I have to be fairly strict about my working time; I have to avoid distractions, family, the kids, things that need fixing, conversations, play, repairs…all the things that come up during a typical week. I have to have the discipline to say “Not now, I’ll put it on my list and deal with it at the weekend” and by the time the weekend comes, I have more to do on a Saturday or Sunday that during the week – so much for rest!

No time for fun at the weekend

This has become our norm as a society. And I don’t know about you, but I am fairly hard on myself for the things that don’t get done. I still don’t find time to Read more

Fat shaming, beach bodies and thigh gaps…

Fat shaming, plus size models, beach bodies and the thigh gap – why are we even having these conversations?

I wrote this a while back, when the singer Lady Gaga came in for some so-called ‘fat shaming’ criticism after her performance at the Super Bowl a couple of months ago. Take a look at the pictures of her performing, here in this news article, and see what you think.

First off, anyone who thinks that what they see in these pictures is somehow overweight, or some kind of ‘jelly belly’ or ‘muffin top’ then they have some serious issues around body image perception and they need to get educated on what is a healthy level of body fat. Let me put this in plain English – if you think that is ‘fat’, then you’re part of the problem. Seriously, no wonder so many young people, especially girls, have body image problems and develop eating disorders, when people seem unable to differentiate between ‘slim‘ and ‘muffin top‘.

Time and again, long-term epidemiological studies show that ‘overweight’ is just as healthy, or often healthier, than ‘normal’ weight when it comes to longevity and all-cause mortality. As I have said many times in my live seminars, the truth is that ‘pinch an inch’ is actually healthier than a rippling 6-pack. That’s not to deny that many of us covet low enough body fat to have visible abs, and as such it’s fair to say that ‘vanity goals’ are not without merit – they can support strong self esteem, body confidence and so on, but there is no evidence that ‘washboard abs lean’ is particularly any healthier than ‘normal’.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that the obsession with being thin is Read more

Top tips to help you lose weight and enjoy the best health possible

Twelve simple tips that might help you lose some unwanted weight, have more energy, feel better and enjoy more abundant good health, now, for the rest of the year, and onwards into your future.

This week, let’s keep things super simple.

I am aware of the fact that in some of my posts we tackle some tough topics, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

While I am sure regular readers find all these posts interesting to one degree or another, some times I bet you just want to keep it simple, and keep it light, so this week it’s just that. I have a dozen tips for you – they may not all be right for you, but I hope you will find a few in here that will help you. There should be something for everyone.

1: To lose weight. Not everyone wants to lose weight, but most places I go, I find two thirds or more of people want to lose a few pounds, or more, and others want to ensure they don’t put any on! One way to get some quick weight loss results is to quit eating cereals, bread, pasta, rice and spaghetti. Quit all that starchy food – buns, bagels and baguettes. So often I give people this one tip and they lose 2 stone in 3 months, or 3 stone in 6 months, or something like that. If you have weight to lose, try it for 30 days and see what a difference it makes.

2: Stop eating sugary foods. Since 1977 when the government started telling us all that fat was the enemy, food manufacturers have been adding more sugar to foods to replace the fat they took out. The result is a huge increase in Read more