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Posts tagged ‘Wellbeing’

Reasons to be cheerful…

Depression, it’s become another modern day epidemic.

According to the WHO, the World Health Organisation:

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease
  • More women are affected by depression than men
  • At its worst, depression can lead to suicide

That’s a sad reality.

heard a statistic that shocked me this morning.

In 2016, there were 44,965 suicides in the United States of America, and that figure is likely low, due to under-reporting. Can you visualise in your mind’s eye what 45 thousand people looks like, if they all stood in a big field in one place? Yikes. Suicide rates per 100,000 of population are slightly lower in the UK, but we still saw over 5,800 suicides in the same time period.

It makes me wonder what is going wrong in our modern society that so many people take their own lives, living in such rich, abundant societies. In wealthy nations such as the US and the UK, we supposedly ‘have it all’ in wealth, healthcare, standard of living, yet so many people are so unhappy that their paths lead to suicide. I think about this too much, and it leads me to tears, as a father and as a citizen, it’s such a sad fact of our modern lives.

It makes me think ‘clearly wealth and possessions don’t automatically mean happiness’. I mean, in the US and the UK we have so much that folks in poorer countries do not…

  • Social and political freedoms
  • We have the best modern healthcare
  • Never-before-seen-in-human-history low infant mortality
  • Ubiquitous public sanitation
  • Clean drinking water for all
  • Electricity and heating for every home
  • State healthcare
  • Welfare systems
  • Flushing toilets

Billions of humans live in other countries without these luxuries, we should all be counting our blessings every day!

There seems to be little correlation between wealth and suicide at a national level.

But I meet people every day who are miserable, unhappy, complaining of anxiety and depression. They have warm comfortable homes, modern cars, every comfort and luxury. Their biggest worry is where to take their annual holiday, which episode of some TV series to watch, or which take-away pizza toppings to order. Clearly, depression is not caused by the difficulty of our life circumstances, or at least it’s not that alone.

Which begs the question, and yes I know I am massively over-simplifying things here (come on, it’s a short blog post, not a PhD thesis), if people in rich countries who have freedom and every luxury can be depressed, while people in poor countries with few possessions or luxuries can be happy, then what is causing much of the depression in our society?

Of course, such a huge discussion is beyond the scope of this blog post, and there are many varied causes behind depression. Trauma, abuse, psychological harm, biochemical imbalances, a myriad of social and psychological factors, and while I am unqualified and unskilled in this area, I am sure no two cases are ever the same, and everyone is different.

But I do have some personal experience, having been through depression myself at one time in my life; and I have some knowledge through studies and experiences of how lifestyle and dietary factors can exacerbate some cases of depression, or help alleviate them.

I’m not saying any quack nonsense about “Just cheer up and eat some broccoli and you’ll be fine!” I think we all know it’s a bit more complicated than that…and as I wrote above, there are doubtless no two cases of depression that are the same, with no two same causes and no two same cures.

But there are some things you can do to help ensure that biologically, your brain is working optimally.

  • You can get more sleep. Sleep deprivation is a well known contributing causal factor in many brain disorders, including anxiety and depression. Sitting up til 3am watching TV, checking Facebook on your phone at four in the morning, shift work and chronic long-term sleep deprivation are all no-no’s, and these are factors you can control. Get to bed soon after 10pm, make sure your bedroom is cool, properly dark, well ventilated (clean behind wardrobes to remove mould and excess dust), and leave the electronic devices downstairs – bed is for sleep, love making and reading a book, nothing else.
  • Get more sunshine. It’s a fact that around 70% or so of the UK population are somewhat deficient in vitamin D. The best way to get optimal vitamin D is to expose your skin to the sun, so with most folks working indoors these days, and given our grey weather much of the year, vitamin D can be a real challenge! Whenever you can, get outside and get some skin on show. Eat plenty of oily fish, eggs and liver. Consider having your vitamin D tested and maybe taking a supplement for the winter half of the year.
  • Improve your diet. While it remains scientifically unproven at this point in time, I feel sure that in the future studies will show that diet has more of an impact on mental health than we currently credit it for. Don’t wait, improve your diet now:
    • Zinc plays many relevant roles in brain health, including helping with libido, stress coping, dopamine production, depression and more. Eat plenty of fresh oily fish, shellfish, free-range eggs and nuts to keep zinc high in your diet.
    • Magnesium has been shown to have links to anxiety, learning ability, confusion, irritability and insomnia. Keep magnesium high by eating lots of fresh leafy greens, fish, nuts and seeds.
    • Don’t starve, and avoid the fad diets. Studies suggest that severe calorie restriction can exacerbate anxiety and stress.
    • Your brain is made of mostly fat and water, so ensure you nourish it well by keeping both high in your diet – good fats from oily fish, organ meats, free-range eggs, avocado, grass-fed butter, olive oil and nuts are all good, plus stay well hydrated which helps combat fatigue in many ways.
  • Exercise is a proven way to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Establish a daily habit of taking some exercise, keep it varied and fun, try to find a participation sport you enjoy. Regular movement and exercise has also been proven to help reduce and slow dementia in the elderly.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation, work over time to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and always try to see all the good in your life – focus on the good, not the challenges.

Maybe you noticed, that all these tips are already encapsulated in the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet, a healthy lifestyle that’s good for both your mind and your body.

I can’t promise you that a jog round the block and a plate full of broccoli will cure anything, including depression, but Mother Nature’s Diet is all about teaching preventive medicine, and living this way can ensure your brain is functioning as well as possible biologically, to help you cope with everything life throws at you, the good and the bad.

Let’s help spread the word to as many people as possible.

To your good health!

Karl

 

Life hacks: the devil is in the detail…

Life hacks.

For the longest time, that phrase has annoyed me. It’s not the actual words, I mean, to be fair ‘life hacks’ sounds kinda cool, it’s the notion of ‘hacking life’ that bothers me.

  • We rush too much these days.
  • We skimp on meaningful relationships.
  • We rely too much on technology.

So the idea of ‘hacking’ life more, seems anathema to so many things I hold dear – the slow food movement, personal responsibility for our own health and well-being, spending time out in nature, relaxing, taking a digital detox, nurturing our personal relationships, offline, face-to-face.

I have written a couple of popular blog posts about this before.

But as I think on it, in many respects maybe the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet are just that – life hacks.

I mean – it’s 12 simple one-liners, taking my 28-year journey of learning, all my reading and studies and the seminars I have attended, all my life experience and the many experts I have interviewed, worked with or learned from, and distilling it all into 12 simple one-line statements for you to follow.

If you have the time, and you want to learn some of what is behind those 12 simple statements, then you can read the short version here, or buy the book here and learn lots more. But if you are pushed for time, if life is demanding, or stressful, then just print off this sheet and do what it says, just follow the 12 Core Principles as you will gain health benefits – weight loss, more energy, resist the signs of ageing and more.

The devil is in the detail

Personally, I am a details kinda guy, I like to read the books, dig into the studies, do the research, I like to find it all out and become immersed in it…

But only for the stuff that interests me.

  • Cancer prevention – bring it on, I am totally into that, I want to read and learn everything.
  • Fitness and strength – yeah baby, gimme those books and studies, I love that shit.
  • Anti-ageing strategies – hell yeah, I’m all over that, I want complete immersion, I am a sponge for learning more.

But…

  • Running my business to be most tax efficient – zzzzzzz can you hear me snoring already?
  • Getting my car serviced – oh dear, is it that time again?
  • My wife wants me to help her pick a new carpet for the landing sand stairs – oh I’m sorry dear I am too busy, I must re-arrange my sock drawer…

You see, the things that interest me, like cancer prevention, weight loss, strength and fitness, anti-ageing, nutrition and diet, I love these things, I have an almost infinite capacity for learning more about these topics. I am the ‘target market’ for that stuff. I want to buy the books, attend the seminars, buy the study courses, meet like-minded people, sign me up baby I’m all over that shit!

But the things that bore me to death, like renewing my home insurance, talking to my accountant about tax, getting the car serviced, booking an annual check-up with my dentist, buying a new carpet or arranging a service for the gas boiler, I don’t want to spend any time on these things at all. I hate these things!

In fact, I would gladly pay someone to help handle these things for me, to free up more of my time to study the cancer prevention, anti-ageing and fitness training.

So I guess this is what life hacking is all about.

  • I don’t want to hack the long walk on the hills.
  • I don’t want to hack cooking that slow-roasted joint of pork.
  • I don’t want to hack time sat in a cancer prevention seminar.
  • But boy oh boy I wanna hack filling out my tax return…

And in fact I DO hack filling out my tax return – I pay my accountant to do it for me.

What about you?

What do you like to savour, go slow, enjoy and immerse yourself in every minute? And what do you want to just hack, to get it done as quickly as possible?

What about your health and fitness?

Do you want to life hack this healthy living thing?

If you want to lose a few pounds, shape up, feel better and have more energy, but the idea of learning about it all bores you half to death, then just do this:

  • Step 1: print this sheet here, print about 5 copies
  • Step 2: stick one on your fridge, one in your wardrobe door where you dress, one near your bathroom or bedroom mirror (the place where you see yourself naked), one in your place of work, and one on the kitchen cupboard that contains the ‘bad things’ (you know, your weakness, those biscuits or chocolate bars or whatever it is)
  • Step 3: Then JFDI – just follow the 12 Core Principles. Don’t ask, don’t question, just trust me for 90 days of your life. You WILL get positive results if you do what it says.

That’s it, simples. Health = hacked.

Or if you are a bit of a secret nutrition nerd like me, and you wanna do some learning, then go buy the book, here, and read it, and I know you’ll learn some stuff and feel inspired.

Want to go even deeper? Come join the MND Life! community and meet like-minded people who also love healthy living and want to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.

Now, maybe I don’t dislike the phrase ‘life hack’ as much as I used to. Perhaps we all want to hack the things we hate wasting our time on, and maybe we want to do the opposite of hack, some kind of ‘slow down, unpack and unpick’, the things we love.

If I can help you to either hack your health, or slow down, unpack and unpick it, now or in the future, then I welcome hearing from you.

To your good health!

Karl

 

All you need to know to find sense among the confusion…

Mother Nature’s Diet, the book, is here – to save your sanity!

I don’t know about you, but I find the world of diet, health and nutrition has become more confusing than ever recently.

There seems to be so much conflicting and contradictory advice going around.

  • High carb or low carb…
  • High fat or low fat…
  • Meat is good for you, or meat gives you cancer…
  • Dairy is a superfood, or dairy is cancer promoting…
  • Calories matter…no, calories don’t matter…
  • It’s our gut flora…
  • They’ve been telling us the wrong thing for decades…
  • Type-2 diabetes can be reversed…

A lot of people are fed up and confused, and just don’t know what to believe any more.

It seems that many people have lost all trust in the science and ‘the establishment’ as we are increasingly being told that the mainstream dietary advice that governments and Dietitians have given us for the last 40 years has been wrong, and has contributed to rising obesity and type-2 diabetes across the UK.

If that’s how you feel, I can empathise

For 16 years I was doing it all wrong. I was focused on trying to lose weight, but I knew nothing at all about diet and nutrition and I was getting it all wrong. I yo-yo dieted for 16 years.

Eventually, between my mid-30s and mid-40s, I spent 12 years learning, and getting it all right. I lost 101 pounds (that’s 46 kilos or 7 stone 3) of unwanted body fat, built 20 pounds of muscle, got fit and cleared up my health problems.

Along the way, I became obsessed with health and nutrition, I became a qualified Personal Trainer and I read 847 books and research studies, learning about everything from cancer prevention to building muscle, from anti-ageing to running a faster marathon.

I created Mother Nature’s Diet and the 12 Core Principles out of that life-changing experience.

And now, I have written a book for you, Mother Nature’s Diet, to share with you the very best of everything I learned along the way.

  • Cut through the confusion
  • Make sense of the conflicting advice
  • Learn how to resist the signs of ageing
  • Have more energy
  • Lose that excess weight without starving or suffering
  • Look and feel your best
  • Resist ill health and degenerative disease

It’s all in this book, your plain-English, common-sense guide to weight loss and healthy living. No nonsense, no gimmicks, no fad diet behaviour. Just honest sensibly healthy living advice. What works, rather than what crap they want to sell you.

I am biased, but I suggest you just go here and buy it now. I mean, why not?

Amazon UK Paperback
Amazon UK Kindle edition
Amazon US Paperback
Amazon US Kindle edition

It’s the no-gimmicks, no-fad-diet, no b/s, common-sense healthy lifestyle guide that the Western world needs right now.

If you have any questions, please just give me a shout!

Go on then.

To your good health!

Karl

The more you just ‘do’, the more you will continue to do 

I observe people quite a lot in my life.

My work is very varied, and involves public speaking, training people, working in groups, coaching people, leading people in outdoor activities, meeting friends and colleagues, mentoring people, working on collaborative projects and so on. Throughout this varied work, over the last two decades, I have observed that it’s only really quite a small percentage of people who ‘just do’ things, compared to a majority who live somewhere on the periphery of action – usually either right ‘on the cusp’ observing, wanting to take part, vicariously living on the edge, but never quite stepping up, or others tend to be further back, watching the action from something of a distance, or even way back, along with the ‘wall flowers’ of our world.

It takes all sorts, as they say.

Allow me to explain what I am talking about.

I find that few people ‘just do it’ as the expression goes. By it, I mean all kinds of things. Most people move into adulthood and fairly quickly settle into a set of circumstances that are familiar and comfortable. When the suggestion comes up to do something different, to push into unfamiliar territory, they default to a bunch of ‘reasons’ (ummm, excuses I call it) to hold back.

It might be trying a new sport, going on a trip, or changing a familiar routine, but people resist new, they resist change, and this can go on for months, for years, for decades. If you are one of those people, maybe you realise, it can go on for an entire life time.

All the excuses

I’ll write using the terms “I” and “you” but these are not about me, and you, they are just generalisations, about many people.

Last weekend I led a couple of friends to climb their first ever mountain, so that seems like a good place to start.

You’ve never climbed a mountain but you have always thought you might like Read more

Respect

You cannot DEMAND respect.
You can only COMMAND respect.

No amount of throwing your weight around, physically or intellectually, will win you the respect of others. You can’t bully your way to being respected, you can’t coerce people into respecting you. And you can’t show off to win respect, you can’t get respect by showing others up, being more intellectual or show-boating that you are smarter than everyone else.

You just can’t DEMAND respect that way.

But you can COMMAND respect, by being nice, by showing integrity, by living a life based on quality values and kindness.

Strong-arm tactics is bullying, that won’t work. But showing strength of character, based in integrity, will command the respect of others.
Putting others down by trying to show off how intelligent you are will only gain you contempt, not respect. But sharing what you know in order to help others, and learning from your mistakes in life and then improving over time, shows humility and wisdom, and these will COMMAND respect from those around you.

Sadly, it seems that far too many people out there are unaware of these subtle differences, and they are out there trying to DEMAND respect, throwing their weight around and showing off in every direction.
Don’t let them fool you for a second.

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