How To Be Happy?

We all know that exercise has multiple physical health benefits but how can it affect your mental health?

Well it turns out that exercise could be more important to your mental health than even your economic status. 

A study in The Lancet carried out by researchers from Oxford and Yale, looked at links between mood and exercise across a sample of 1.2 million Americans.

The key findings were that people who exercise are on the whole happier than those that don’t. If you’re a number’s person….then those that exercise tend to feel bad around 35 days a year, while those that don’t feel down 53 days a year.

One of the study authors Adam Chekroud of Yale also observed a U-shaped curve between sport duration and mental health. The optimum amount of training for happiness is 3 to 5 sessions a week of between 30 – 60 minutes each. 

So, little and often (the approach we take with our programmes and clients.) 

A 2018 study in The Journal Of Happiness Studies reviewed 23 past studies and found a strong link between exercise and happiness. Even 10 minutes had benefits, and generally people who did more were happier, while something was better than none at all.

It’s not just happiness that’s a benefit of exercise. Multiple studies have suggested that the pre-frontal cortex and medial temporal cortex (the thinking and memory parts of the brain) are larger in people who regularly exercise. A more recent study by the University of British Columbia found that regular cardio sessions boosts the size of the hippocampus which is involved in verbal memory and learning.

A 2019 study in the European Review of Ageing and Physical Activity found that resistance training showed improvements in the brain frontal lobes and improved functions. 

Where this gets exciting is that research is now looking at the role of exercise in combatting brain degeneration with the focus particularly on the role of exercise in helping delay or even reverse dementia.

So, exercise not only makes you happier, but it improves your brain functions and slows brain ageing.

Time to lace up those trainers…

James (& Claire)
xx

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(18)30227-X/fulltext#seccestitle10

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-018-9976-0

https://eurapa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s11556-019-0217-2

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cravings/201908/exercise-your-aging-brain

Middle Age & Weight Gain: How To Handle It

What makes loosing weight hard as we get older and how can we get a handle on it?

We had this question recently from one of our clients, but it’s not the first time we’ve been asked it. We’re middle aged ourselves so this is something we’ve looked into, for our own goals and to successfully help our clients.

First up, why does it get harder to lose weight as we age? Well, there are a few reasons – mostly to do with the natural ageing process of our bodies. After about the age of 35 (we’re all different though – that’s why we work with blood tests and genetic samples with our consulting clients), there are a number of hormonal changes going on in the body which can contribute to weight gain.

For both men and women sex hormone levels drop, with less testosterone in the body, we have a lowered ability to synthesis new muscle tissue. This is an issue as from this age we’re losing roughly 3 to 5% of our muscle mass per decade with a resulting progressive drop strength. It’s a double whammy, our muscle tissue is degenerating and our hormonal balance is no longer primed for regeneration.

Our bone density also lowers (partly in thanks to lower oestrogen levels), while this won’t affect our weight per se, it’s important to note this for the fixes we’re going to recommend.

Likewise our collagen production lowers as our age increases (yes wrinkles!) but also less elastic tendons and ligaments.

On top of this our metabolisms also slow as we age, meaning we burn less energy than we used to. Now factor in that muscle is highly metabolically active, and that we’re losing that too and you can see that we’ve got double whammy of metabolic sluggishness.

Throw increased stress into the mix (midlifers are known as Generation Squeeze – careers, kids, parents etc) and you can be looking at raised cortisol levels too. This is linked with increased body fat (particularly abdominal fat) not to mention a host of other negative health indicators – both physical and mental.

So, let’s recap: our metabolisms are slowing, we’re losing muscle mass (slowing metabolism further), strength, flexibility and bone density. We’re probably stressed too, leading to more fat gain and our lifestyles probably mean we’re not moving as much as we should and we’re probably eating too many of the wrong things at the wrong times. That’s why losing weight is harder as we get older.

All is not lost – far from it! And it doesn’t take a massive lifestyle overhaul. We need to address two factors – movement, and nutrition.

As we age, it’s great to keep moving for all kinds of health reasons, and if you can, a couple of HIIT sessions a week are going to be great to boost your cardiovascular fitness, burn body fat and raise your metabolic rate. If you need to ease into HIIT then standard cardio is fine, it’s about getting moving regularly.

If you can go the HIIT route then you need to train for 15 – 20 mins twice a week – do-able!

We also want to not only preserve, but increase that muscle mass, so a minimum of two sessions of resistance training a week are your prescription for: increased muscle, increased strength, better bone density, higher metabolic rate.

These sessions don’t have to be in a gym, or even using weights at all. Again, a 20 to 30 minute bodyweight workout can work wonders.

Moving more burns more calories too, which is going to help with your fat loss. The other thing that’s going to help is addressing your nutrition. Knowing what to eat, when makes a huge difference and it’s not about restriction or foregoing your pleasures – we love a drink. This is something we spend time coaching our clients on and helping them with their nutrition, making sure they’ve got a firm grasp of the essentials for sustainable, long term healthy living.

Add some stretching post workout for those tendons and ligaments, or a regular yoga class, and when you put it all together you’re helping future proof your body for old age.

Finally, address the stress. Start habits and rituals that help move you to a more positive space. Practice meditation and mindfulness. There’s a lot you can do for yourself, but working on your mind is definitely an area that getting help can make a big difference with. We’ll use NLP techniques or patterning based on hypnotic symbolism to help clients reduce stress and shift towards positive habits and thoughts.

There we have it, some of the things that are happening to us as we get older, and solutions for dealing with them so that we can get to, then stay, in the mental and physical shape we want to be in.

With the right knowledge its not that hard, its not that time-consuming but the results can be life changing and prevention is better than cure. It’s not too late to start and imagine how good you could be feeling a month from now 🙂

If you’d like to learn more fill out this form ➡️https://bit.ly/2VFZfhe⬅️

or book a call ➡️https://bit.ly/2P35PvP⬅️

https://38nacademy.com/midlife-mentors/

Dealing With Fear

I was privileged to work with some fabulous clients this weekend. One common theme when we were looking at future goals was the role of fear.

Some of those fears were tangible, real, justified – if you’re going to climb a mountain, then you need to prepare and things can go wrong, of course.

But so many fears we talked about were intangible. Nebulous, “what if’s?”

Let’s make a distinction between a genuine thing to be rightly concerned about, like a health scare, attempting something genuinely dangerous, and a fear. For the purposes of this piece a fear is an unlikely and undesired outcome (that scares us) about something in the future that hasn’t happened yet.

I suffer from this myself. I call them the 4am terrors. Those irrational nibbling thoughts that sneak in when your subconscious is strongest and your rational mind is weakest.

Again, sometimes this terror can be serious. Proper problems that need attention. All too often though they’re (in the cold light of day) inconsequential things.

So what do you do when your fears are blocking you from achieving, or even attempting, your goals?

One useful tool is reframing.

We tend to have quite a limited perspective when it comes to ourselves and dwell on the negative outcomes of things that have happened, or could happen.

How often have you replayed an event in your mind thinking, “If only I’d said this. If only I’d done this?”

Yep, we’ve all done it.

We get trapped in our narrow frame of perspective.

What happens though if you look at your issue in a broader perspective (a bigger frame) and look at the positives (or potential positives) if it’s a future worry?

Here’s an example. Your relationship has finished. Of course that is a major event, traumatic, you’re sad. You’re dwelling on all the negative aspects that now brings to your life. You’re lonely. Will you find another partner etc?

What if we now look at that event within the context of your entire life and the opportunities it now brings.

Maybe you weren’t really suited to that person. Actually the relationship wasn’t so great. Now you have time to invest in yourself. You can meet new people. Take on that hobby you wanted to do for years….

You’re not trying to bury your feelings or re-touch the past – but what you are doing is giving yourself a broader frame of reference, which will help make the event easier to deal with and allow you to move forward.

Another tool you can use, is disassociation.

When we’re emotionally connected to our fears (of course!) it can make give us a limited perspective (as seen above with reframing). Those fears are closely associated with us.

Here’s two ways you can disassociate.

What if we were to pretend that the fear belonged to a friend of ours, rather than ourselves? What advice would you give them looking in from the outside…not emotional involved? We’re naturally limited by our perspective, so if we change perspective, how does that change our view of the fear?

Another way is to look at the present fear along a future timeline. I use this one a lot. In 6 months time, will this thing that’s giving me a racing heart at 4 in the morning, have any kind of significant impact in my life? How about in 1 year, 5 years?

When we start looking at fears like this we gain the perspective of distance, and we can see how that disagreement we had at work that we’re replaying and replaying, and worrying about, actually won’t matter AT ALL in 2 weeks, let alone in 2 months.

Naturally we all have things to genuinely be concerned about. Issues to overcome. That’s life. But so often the fears that stop us are those fears are our sub-conscious sabotaging us through over-protection. Those irrational, unlikely, night terror fears that we all succumb to.

Fear is always going to be a player your life.

Learn to play with it and don’t let it stop you moving towards your goals.

You’ve got this. I believe in you.

James x

Is It Time You Non-Conformed?

Engaging With Non-Conformity

When we work with clients one of the things we do is explore existing beliefs and values – so that we have a good idea of the mental filters that client has in place.

Why? Because our pre-conceptions and filters play a role in our own perception of our reality. My reality is different to your reality, and both are different from the actual truth. If we can look at our own reality dispassionately, then we have the power to change it.

Our amazing minds, in an effort to help us process the myriad of information flying at us, carry out a process of filtering renowned psychologist Chomsky broke down into: generalisations, deletions, distortions and personalisations.

For example, if my experience of going to a gym was that it was smelly, I didn’t like the machines, the PT I had was mean and nasty, and that after 2 weeks I got no results – then my filters are likely to round this up into “the gym doesn’t work for me”, or something similar.

This is a perception and clearly not a truth, but that perception is my truth. For now. This is where engaging with non-conformity comes in.

Now, by non-conformity I don’t mean slinging on tie-die clothes and heading off to live in a commune. In fact, I live in Ibiza where many of the ‘non-conformists’ actually all dress and act the same – they confirm to their own social norms. Their non-conformism has paradoxically become their own conformism.

What we are talking about is being prepared to challenge your own filters and beliefs. To “non-conform” with your own set of rules for the world. Why?

Because doing what you have always done is only ever going to get you what you’ve always got.

Fine if what you’ve got is working for you. If it’s not, you’re stuck.

So you need to be prepared to engage with your non-conformity, challenge your rules and beliefs and be prepared to change and grow.

Let’s look at the original example of the bad gym experience. If I’m prepared to challenge that I can reset my filters: “other people get results from going to the gym”, “I just didn’t know what I was doing last time, now I have an expert coach”, and so on.

Be prepared to look at your filters, really look, accept them without judgement and see your own reality as it is with the rules you have put in place.

Take a look at your life and see what filters might be holding you back, and where engaging with non-conformity might give you the opportunity to learn and grow.

With love

James

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