The Discipline Myth

Have you ever wanted to change something in your life and thought, ‘if only I were more disciplined I could achieve that’?

Or maybe you’re a bit harsher on yourself and end up in a spiral of negative chat in your mind, beating yourself up for not doing the things that you know will help your health.

Or maybe you look at someone else who has achieved those things, comparing yourself to them and think that ‘it’s okay for them’ because they have more discipline.

Well, I have some good news for you. Discipline is a myth!

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A ‘Net-Positive’ Day

Life comes in waves. When we’re riding high, everything feels easy, but when we’re low it feels like we’ll never get back on form, the whole world is against us.

Like an economic life-cycle, some waves occur over a period of months, some days and some minute to minute, second to second.

You may have heard yourself say, “that was a good Summer”, or “I hated that Winter”, and what you are doing is taking note of all the ups and downs in the previous months and figuring what the net result is.

Did the goods outweigh the bads, or was it the other way round? Continue reading

What Is the Best Way to Stretch?

Fitness can be broadly split into three categories: cardio, strength and flexibility. It’s not quite as simple as that, but that covers the basics.

As a teen, I had the cardio one covered. I did not stop. Early morning swimming training, badminton every lunchtime, running most evenings, football training a couple of times a week, cycling to see mates … my heart and lungs were sorted!

However, I was no Arnold Schwarzenegger! Having had the rapid growth of a boy destined to be 6 foot 2, my arms and legs were more spaghetti than penne. I was not exactly what you would call ‘strong’.

And if you asked me to touch my toes? I’d be lucky to get past my knees. My muscles felt like lead wires, creaking under the tension. But, I was 16, so I didn’t care. Continue reading

Why Don’t We Do the Things We Know to Be Good for Us?

I’m currently reaping the benefits of a low sugar month which I am doing in conjunction with my ’30 Day Habits’ group which I run in Facebook. I have a clearer head, better sleep, I’ve leaned up a little and my running feels better.

I have done this many times in my life, I’ve managed to break the sugar addiction and I always feel better for it. But then I go back.

Why is that?! Everything about life is better when I’m eating less sugar. Not only is my energy better, but I am more productive, calmer, my mood improves and I am a better communicator with those around me. Why wouldn’t I want to be like this always?

The same goes for other habits of health. Exercise, stretching, meditation and a good night’s sleep are all essential for optimal health and they make life feel good. But as with the diet, the good routine of these things comes and goes.

This is something that has fascinated me both in my life and in that of my patients.

We all know what’s good for us, so why don’t we do it?

After years of wondering, I think I have finally found the answer. Continue reading

The Most Important Lesson in Health … It’s Not What You Think

I was reminded this week of the longest-standing study in health and happiness.

I stumbled across it a couple of years ago when browsing TED Talks, which is one of my favourite ways to waste time. It makes procrastination feel that little bit more noble.

The Harvard study started back in 1938 and is still going to this day. Rather than focus on disease, this study set out to discover what made people healthy.

Then World War 2 happened.

The results coming in were fascinating and they managed to keep the research going. After the war, in the poverty and rationing that followed, the results were equally fascinating.

The researchers weren’t finding what they expected. Continue reading