How to stay calmer, for longer.

Let me first make it clear that what I am going to speak about today is just my opinion that has been developed through my own personal experiences.

Between the ages of 12-14 I experienced anxiety attacks. They manifested in the form of terrible stomach pains that lasted hours and often had no trigger or explanation. It was a difficult one to diagnose as there was no physical issue with my digestion that doctors could pinpoint.

One day my GP recommended I see a local councillor. After just one session with a lovely woman my stomach pains began to subside and after a while I realised one day that I hadn’t had one for months.

It’s important to note that I had a typically normal childhood, nothing extreme, two loving parents, I wasn’t bullied more than any other kid is and I had a pretty good diet (considering what other kids my age where eating!)

But, I was under quite a bit of stress. Anxiety releases the main stress hormone, which is called cortisol. This hormone causes your stomach to produce excess levels of stomach acid which can be problematic when you eat or drink triggering foods, can cause distress to your stomach lining and change the hunger satiety levels.

Because the concentration of acid in the stomach changes the way you digest food it can be quite destabilising for your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The cascade of effects add up, and it can effect your body in a fairly powerful way.

Why is this important to know?

Because without this experience I would never have got into the stress reducing habits I did start doing from a very young age. This is the purpose of this post, to help people realise that stress is not something that you can stop from entering your environment. In fact, stress levels need to increase in order of your body to adapt in training exercises, and they help you stimulate your focus in conditions that require a heightened state of alertness.

But, how can we prepare ourselves for dealing with the small stressors that don’t mean so much to us but seem to ‘tip us over the edge’ into rage, fear, anxiety and suffering?

Practice Meditation – this has been rebranded recently as ‘mind-full-ness’. In my opinion what we are actually trying to achieve is a reduced state of mind awareness, so I don’t exactly agree with the term. But, if it gets people sitting still and focusing their minds then I’ll let that one go!

This is a state where we simply slow our minds, remove the constant train of thought flowing without control in our mind and attempt to “rest” our brain. I started off with reciting Tibetan mantra’s, one specifically ‘Om-A-Rap-A-Sana-Di’ (spelt phonetically) for 108 beads on a bead-mala 3 or 4 times every morning. This practice evolved into full-on visualisations of imagery with my eye’s closed, breathing exercises and visual focus exercises.

If you want to find out more about these, I will be happy to talk about it with you so send me a direct message, but on this occasion I can’t delve too deep into it, that needs a whole other post!

All of them are a way of doing the same thing; getting your mind to focus on one thing and one thing only, when it drifts – because it will – you have to gently bring it back, don’t worry if you get sidetracked. Everybody does it. Just be a little more understanding of yourself.

Exercise the cardiovascular system – taking your time to exercise your body without it being overly challenging on your breath is a fantastic way to reduce stress. The physical exertion will far outweigh the emotional stress you’ve built up in your mind and the endorphin release will make you feel contentment and pride for taking the time to do something positive for your mind and body.

Try doing a really low-level run, swim or bike ride when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll immediately feel better prepared for what the world has to throw at you.

Go natural cold water swimming – this has no be proven and backed up by science to boost the immune system and relieve symptoms of depression. Whilst anecdotally improving participants perspective of their problems and environmental stressors.

Many people will have heard about Wim Hof, an eccentric man from Holland who does incredible feats of human resistance to extreme cold. For the past 14 months I’ve been using his breathing exercises, cold water therapy immersion techniques and life advice to help me build up tolerance for stress in my everyday life. Like the first two (mentioned above), this practice has been a huge catalyst in improving my resistance to stress.

What I would like to recommend today is for you to comment below or message me directly if you’re interested about any of these practices and begin doing just one of them every day.

You can rotate the type, change the way you do them and adjust it to suit your lifestyle. But a plan and a simple piece of guidance (from me) might be exactly what you need to kickstart your stress busting healthy habits.

Speak soon, Patrick

An Essential Kitchen tool for Vegan Cooks

Save time, cut-costs and remove un-wanted stress from your life with this kitchen tool.

What is my number one kitchen appliance recommendation for people cooking on a vegan diet?

The humble and under appreciated…pressure cooker!

I’ve got a traditional (stove top) and a modern (electric) type. Both great for different reasons, especially if I need a dhal (lentils) and a whole-grain (brown rice) cooked simultaneously.

A traditional stove top pressure cooker may cost you between £30-£60 – an “expensive” one will often come with a 25 year guarantee – I bought an Barazzoni stove top type first. The number of times I’ve used it and the time it has saved has far outweighed the financial cost. It will save you money through reducing the energy expended during cooking, and it gives you the option of cooking foods in bulk from dry/soaked like chickpeas and cannellini beans that cost 40-60% less than the pre-made/tinned versions.

An electric pressure cooker is more like an all-in-one tool. It can be turned on with all the ingredients in it and left for up to 24 hours – if needed. Keeping to the specified cooking time and keeping it warm when that’s done. It really is the simplest way to cook stews, soups, dhal and curries with a minimum of fuss.  

I’ve got an entire chapter on this subject in my up coming recipe book. Be sure to keep an eye out for it!

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Want to Lose Bodyfat? Try these 5 Essential Exercises…

5 Essential Exercises to Burn Body Fat

Exercise 1: Rowing

If you want to hit the whole body quickly and you want to boost your metabolism to burn fat then rowing is one of your must-do exercises. It targets the whole body, ‘what you put in – is what you get out’ in this case.  When you see your times getting lower with each practice you’ll be inspired to go harder again and again! I’ve witnessed benefits in every age group of client I’ve worked with this exercise.

KEY APPROACH:

Set a maximum 1000m or 2000m distance and try to complete it as fast as possible. Make the stroke as long and as powerful as you can. Try at the start of your workout 2x a week.

Exercise 2: Sprints

Running is the second most natural thing for your body after walking. Sprinting at maximum speed will get lipids (stored body fat) out of storage and into your bloodstream quickly.

KEY APPROACH:

Try one minute on, one minute off to start with on the tredmill. Get 10-15 rounds out on a speed that matches up to a 7/10 for you. Once you’ve got that done you can reduce the time resting to 30s instead and see if you can complete it at the same speed. Try this 2x a week after your weight training workout.

Exercise 3: Spinning

Pressing a 20kg weighted wheel in revolutions as fast as you can is almost the definition of high intensity interval training. Spinning is a powerful way to break up the monotony of regular cardio with powerful tunes and a group mentality.

KEY APPROACH:

Put the resistance up so high that you can’t turn the wheel when sitting on the seat. You’ll need to stand up to get momentum. Once you’ve got momentum go hard for a maximum of 30sec and then turn the resistance down and spin lightly for 90sec while sitting back down. It may sound easy now, but trust me the 1:3 ratio of work to rest works a treat when the 30 sprint is done at maximum intensity. Complete this 8x at the start of a workout 1x a week.

Exercise 4: Pull Ups

Asking you to lift your bodyweight from a hanging position is where many of my clients have closed down mentally and said; “There’s no way I can do that!”.

EVERYONE can do it, you just need adjustments to suit your capabilities. Your 30-40% stronger on the way down (negative phase of movement). So practice that. This exercise improves your posture, it uses the largest and most powerful muscles in the upper back and will boost fat burning hormones (HGH) in the bloodstream.

KEY APPROACH:

Knock out as many pull ups as possible every set for 8 rounds – 2 minute rests between. If you can’t pull up (yet) use a box, a band or jump up to get yourself above the bar. Slowly lower yourself into the full hanging position and repeat for 3-5 reps. Also complete 8 times. Try to do this minimum 2x a week.

Exercise 5: Resistance Band Squat Jumps

Boost balance, proprioception, speed and power with this squat jump exercise that will give the body every reason to start breaking down energy stores to provide energy for explosive movement.

KEY APPROACH:

Using a resistance band just above the knees, walk sideways like a crab to engage your glutes for 20 reps each side. After you’ve prepped/activated for jumping, stand with your hips slightly wider than hip width and the feet pressing away from one-another on the ground. Squat down into a deep position and jump up and tap the feet (using only the toes) on the ground with the legs together underneath you, immediately spring off the toes back down into a deep squat position – its like a star jump but with a squat and a band.

Do 20-30 reps 5x with a 60second rest between each set. You’ll be sweating, burning, activated and filling with pride at how hard you’re working just using your body and a band.

Do You Have A Nutritional Deficiency?

How do we find out if we have a nutritional deficiency?

A complete blood profile test can be done by your doctor. It will asses your overall blood and cellular health as well as your risk of disease. But, as most of you roll your eyes at the thought of having another thing to add to the list of things to do, I do have an alternative suggestion…

(You’re welcome to get in touch if you do want to get blood tests, I have a comprehensive list that you can ask your doctor to do for you – if your interested)

The reality is; dietary deficiencies are very common so the chances are…yes, you’ve got one! (No matter how good you think your diet is)

This is a problem because when you’re deficient in key nutrients, your physiology doesn’t work properly. And when your physiology doesn’t work as it should, you feel low on energy. How can you expect to smash a workout, go for a run or complete a great day at work if you don’t feel energized?

Here’s some stats…

deficiencies

I’d like to point out that I believe that RDA is a particularly underwhelming estimation for what’s needed to maintain a “healthy individual”. Nevertheless, it’s a start….

What are the common nutritional ‘red flags’ to look out for?

  • water (low-level dehydration)
  • vitamins and minerals (much lower levels in non-organic fruits and veg)
  • protein (particularly in women/men with low appetites)
  • essential fatty acids (95% of the population is deficient!)

That’s the power of removing nutrient deficiencies. When our bodies don’t have the nutrients they need to carry out their daily functions, we all suffer. But as soon as we get these nutrients, we begin to thrive.

GOOD NEWS IS…You can practically remove the chances of having a nutritional deficiency in an easy, natural way; super green powders.

plantforcegreens

I use Third Wave Nutrition’s ‘Plantforce Greens’ blend, it has no artificial ingredients or additives and it is 100% organic. Packed full of green leafy vegetables, plants, grasses and algae’s it provides you with a wide spectrum of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals essential for all you’re daily bodily functions.

I don’t gain anything by referring people to this company other than the knowledge you’re getting a perfect product for its use.

Furthermore, you can use code ‘Mojo’ at checkout for 20% off your basket!

Of course, many of you may ignore this advice (to buy a short-cut to nutritional efficiency) as it wasn’t even in your paradigm for a health conscious decision to make, and will continue to hope that your covering your bases through your diet – especially as the ‘short-cut’ costs yet more money. I totally understand and I’ve had the same conversation in my own head many times before.

The most frequent truth I encounter as a personal trainer is that the basics are often the hardest things to put into place. This is why I recommend this, it’s a short-cut, it’s natural, it’s real-food based and there are absolutely no side-effects, issues with production or chemicals.

We can all improve areas of our diet. If you feel like this would be a good addition to a smoothie or juice in the morning..great! Do it! If this sounds a bit outlandish and impossible to introduce, I get it.

The idea of this post is to share, learn, understand, apply new ideas how you see fit and get on with your life. I’m just grateful your even taking an interest in your health.

Thanks for reading and if you think it was a helpful piece, please give it a share with someone who you know might gain some benefit from reading it too.

Merry Chritsmas and Happy New Year, Patrick

 

 

The Highlights – ‘The 5 Ways of Wellbeing’

I’ve been on a journey since I was a skinny teenager at 17 years old working on a gym floor cleaning machines, giving inductions and helping to sell products (an old-fashioned gym instructor).

It’s 2019, I’m a Personal Trainer in North London with over 12 years industry experience and 9 years running my own PT business, MoJo Wellbeing Ltd.

The longer I’ve been in the job the less motivated I’ve been in being a glorified exercise babysitter. My motivation has been to become the best ‘functional health coach’ I can be. This is someone who helps people change their lives for the long-term. That person should spend their later years thriving, free of disease and chronic inflammation. Looking good while you’re doing it is just the bonus you get while you’re at it.

In order for this to happen, you need to have 5 key ‘ways’ in place in your daily routine. I’ve outlined these for you below. This is level 1, so if you’re already a level up I can set you up with the next steps you need to take. Let’s open a discussion about it..

WAY 1

Exercise

You need to have a basic level of activity for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.

The combination of increases in a sedentary lifestyle (for most) and constant food availability has had a huge effect on ancient metabolic processes that govern our bodies. This has led to a huge outbreak of type 2 diabetes and obesity led by excessive storage of energy as fat and increasing insulin resistance. Being active for 30 minutes a day, even if broken up into six 5 minutes intervals can help slow the negative effects of that.

For most of you that will mean walking up the escalators in the tube station rather than standing still, or taking the stairs instead of the lift at work…what I’m getting at is; you have to find every opportunity to move possible throughout the day. Just the stairs and escalator tips won’t be even close enough.

You must find ways of getting on your feet regularly around the office or work space, arrange special meetings and/or set a recurring alarm on your phone. You can monitor this on your phone easily with health apps. Take pictures and send them to your accountability partner (way 5).

Way 2

Nutrition

A vegan/plant-based diet that’s got adequate plant protein and keeps you healthy is not as hard as some people think. I’ve managed it for over 19 months. I keep a low body fat percentage, I’m stronger and I’ve not yet been sick or injured.

In a randomized trial by the journal of Nutrition & diabetes this year they found that, ‘plant protein intake significantly decreased fat mass, improved insulin resistance markers and improved body composition in overweight individuals in comparison to the control diet group’ (1). Furthemore, there are countless studies not only showing the benefits on fat mass but also of a vegan/plant-based diet in reducing the chances of almost every chronic health problem.

Yet, people care more about what they need to eat to help them stay fit, healthy and lean. That’s why I’ve built a plant protein list and what foods are best to combine them with for my clients.

Way 3

Hydration

The importance of hydration has been a big topic in helping my clients achieve results for years. In 2015, a study by researchers at Loughborough University found that, ‘that mild hypohydration, produced a significant increase in minor driving errors…the magnitude of decrement reported, was similar to that observed following the ingestion of an alcoholic beverage’ (2).

To put it simply – mild dehydration can have a big effect on your ability to exercise, on the functionality of your brain, on your ability to remember, on your pain threshold and on your basic motor skill function. Getting the right amount for you is vital for wellbeing and there are considerations to take into account like body size, activity level and gender.

Here’s a calculation to get a rough idea of how much you should be drinking.

Drink half an ounce for every one pound of bodyweight.

If you need help doing this please get in touch and I’ll help you calculate yours.

Way 4

Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep has become ‘the hack’ for successful, wealthy individuals who are concerned with their optimum health in the fast-paced western working world. Yet, this rule applies more importantly to the unemployed, mentally unwell, public sector worker’s and children. The research is flooding out stating it could have a significant effect on health issues ranging from age related diseases (dementia and Parkinson’s) to mental health (anxiety, depression and ADHD.

Let’s understand one thing first, getting below 7 hours or above 8 hours for the majority of the population is going to hinder you rather than help you. Research conducted in Korea found that too much or too little sleep increases the risk of depressive symptoms in people who suffer hypertension/high blood pressure (3). Furthermore, a Harvard Medical Health letter published it analysis of multiple studies which found that poor ‘sleep-hygiene’ could increase the likelihood of triggering a bi-polar episode, contribute to anxiety, disrupt the routines of people with ADHD and cause a development of depressive feelings (4).

I have a huge list tips to help maximise your sleep and a blog post for my 5 essentials for a better nights sleep. But the best first practice you can implement today is this…make your bedroom a place that is your sanctuary, you should only be doing two or three things in there; sleep, make love and maybe light reading of an actual book. No TV’s, no working or catching up with e-mail’s and definitely no eating!

Way 5

Mindset

This ‘way’ is what I’ve experienced to be the most important of them all. It’s the goal setting practices and adherence aspect to the four other ‘way’s’. How you manage your time, how you plan your day and how you prioritize your daily activities will determine whether your life with become the happier and healthier life you deserve. In essence, that is all we are striving for; happiness and health. Earning money is all about having “time” to do the things that make you happy.

That’s why I have a 3 stage process to help program your day so you can adhere to the tasks you need to achieve your goals.

  1. Accountability
  2. Sharing your goals
  3. Giving your goals a deadline.

These are the keys to your success – and by success I mean wellbeing!

Let’s Get It

#mymojomatters

References:

(1) Kahleova.H et al, Nutrition & Diabetes, A plant-based diet in overweight individuals in a 16-week randomized clinical trial: metabolic benefits of plant protein, 2018 Nov 2;8(1):58.

(2) Watson P, Whale A, Mears SA, Reyner LA, Maughan RJ. Mild hypohydration increases the frequency of driver errors during a prolonged, monotonous driving task, Physiology & Behaviour, Volume 147, 1 Aug.15, Pages 313-318

(3) Son YJ, Park C, Won MH. Impact of Physical Activity and Sleep Duration on Depressive Symptoms in Hypertensive Patients: Results from a Nationally Representative Korean Sample, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2018 Nov 22;15(12)

(4) Harvard Mental Health Letter, Sleep and Mental Health. July 2009. Accessed April 29, 2018.

 

What’s The Big Deal About Staying Hydrated?

What is it about hydration that has got personal trainers, yogis, health coaches and sports team managers questioning, ‘how much water do I need to drink?’

clear drinking glass filled with clear liquid and sliced of kiwi

How important is it?

Firstly, DEHYDRATIONWhat is it?

Defined as; “a harmful reduction in the amount of water in the body.”

Harmful being the key word to listen to here. As dehydration gets worse, so does the harmful effect it has on the body.

One of the first facts I learnt about dehydration was about sports performance in my A-level Physical Education (PE) studies – yes, I did PE for A-level…

A review of research conducted into dehydration in sports performance found that losing just 2% of your body weight in fluids could significantly reduce measurable aspects of performance such as endurance and mental focus.

This is because roughly 65-70% of your body is water, and the majority of that is in your blood. If your blood thickens, as it does when you get dehydrated, oxygen will be transported around the body more slowly. Therefore, the delivery of oxygen needed to contract muscles and help the brain to make decisions is delayed. Given that athletes can sweat out 6% to 10% of their body weight during competition, you can begin to understand why the importance of rehydrating/hydrating cannot be overemphasised.

Furthermore, when you are dehydrated, the body is forced to draw water from the intestines and bowels, this causes constipation. It also forces the liver to help the kidneys remove waste as they will not have enough water to do this job themseves. Normally the liver’s function is to metabolize stored fat. However, when the liver has to help the kidneys function, fat metabolism will not be completed and this contributes to fat storage.

Finally, water is a natural appetite suppressant. Cravings are often misinterpreted as food cravings, when they are really thirst cravings. If you are not drinking enough water over an extended period of time your thirst mechanism shuts down, especially as you grow older. As you increase your regular water intake this thirst signal reactivates and lets you know the difference between a water and a food craving.

Drinking more water will prove to be the simplest, least expensive, most powerful and longest lasting key to long-term fat reduction, better sports performance and optimum functioning of your organs.

GOOD LUCK!

5 Essential Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Hey Sleepy Heads!

Being a personal trainer who focuses on all aspects of your wellbeing, I’ve noticed how people in Hampstead and Highgate seem to sleep a lot less than I do!

I’ve been ‘in the ear’ to all my clients about sleep for a while so it’s only right I get ‘in the ear’ about sleep to my friends and followers digitally too! What I find quite strange is that I shouldn’t even have to be doing this; we all know sleep is vital, so why do so many people neglect it so much?

I’ve heard it all before; “I’ve got too much to do/I only need 5 hours/I’ll catch up at the weekend” to know that people actually believe that this is an option AND think they are living a healthy lifestyle. The truth is, if you don’t sleep enough, you’re more likely to be obese, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, you’re more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s and you’re more likely to suffer cardiovascular health issues – to name just a few. What is pretty clear from the research I have done is that, you will definitely have a poorer quality of life, if you disregard your sleep quality. I want to tackle this, so I’ve put together 5 essential tips that you can act on TODAY to help you make the right decisions to get a better night’s sleep.

Let’s jump right in!

Tip 1: GET MAGNESIUM – this is the natural ‘anti-stress’ mineral (– I know right? We all need this anyway). Research has shown that diets high in magnesium result in deeper and less interrupted sleep cycles.

The best food sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables (surprise surprise), spirulina, chlorella and 100% raw cacao. Sadly, the average person is magnesium-deficient and deficiency has been shown to increase the likelihood of insomnia. So, it is absolutely key you get this mineral in your diet. An important note to make is that organic food contains much more magnesium than large scale, ‘conventionally’ produced food, which is almost totally devoid of magnesium.

Alternatively, you can supplement magnesium easily without even having to take it orally. I use third wave nutrition (www.thirdwavenutrition.com) MAG OSTEO which includes K2, Zinc and B vitamins for added benefits. If you use the link above you will get a 20% discount on your entire order – not just the magnesium! I take it using their powder because magnesium tablets or pills draw water into your gut that can cause poor digestion and diarrhoea.

If that’s not for you, another way to supplement magnesium is to absorb it through your skin; you can get body sprays and magnesium bath salts that are both incredibly efficient at absorbing magnesium, and are a great excuse to have a bath or massage ;-). 

Tip 2: GET BLACKOUT BLINDS – clinically proven to help you get the best sleep ever! This one has been a big one for my wife and I; we’ve noticed an amazing difference when sleeping ‘blacked out’. If your skin and eyes absorb light from your window, it stimulates the body, therefore moving your sleep cycle away from the deep DELTA waves that flow in the most relaxing and regenerative sleep cycles. Instead your sleep becomes restless and disturbed.

Tip 3: GET A SLEEP ROUTINE – the body thrives on rituals and patterns. By setting a specific time to get ready for bed every day, you’re giving your body the message it needs to prepare for a good night’s sleep. If you’re up watching telly late, blue light from the screen stimulates your eyes and hormones are released to activate functions you need when awake. Poor sleep ensues, then the next night you try and ‘catch up’ on sleep by going to bed at 9:30pm. Your body has no idea what’s going on and you will lie there awake, thinking about what you need to do tomorrow rather than falling asleep peacefully today. A often hear of people waking up with an alarm set for 6:30am, and then hitting ‘snooze’ (sometimes multiple times!). This is the most stressful and ineffective way to start the day. You’ll feel more tired, more frustrated and you’ll have a poorer night’s sleep the following night.

Tip 4: GET A BEDTIME TEA – 20 minutes before getting ready for bed, make a tea proven to improve sleep quality and sleep latency.

First tip is to find a quality Reishi medicinal mushroom extract; this has been scientifically proven to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and improve the time spent in deep sleep.

Second tip is to find a good quality Valerian root tea; a natural sedative and proven to be as effective as synthetic sleeping pills. This root can be so powerful that if you take too much, it could make you feel so well rested that you could feel overly drowsy the next morning!

Finally, the ‘grandmother’s favourite’ tip: Chamomile – not only good for helping you ease into sleep, but also for improving digestion and expelling unwanted gases from your colon. Give these tips a try – and let me (and others) know how you found them!

Tip 5: GET A HIGH PROTEIN/HIGH FAT/LOW CARB SNACK ONE HOUR BEFORE BED – It’s been a big day at work…you’ve spent the day constantly making important decisions – and tiredness has finally kicked in. The last thing you want to do is cook a big meal, so what do you do? 1) Order Deliveroo, 2) make something quick (usually a pasta dish) or 3) head straight for the ice cream in the freezer! My most valuable tip will get you out of this sticky situation…don’t bother ordering, cooking OR binging.

Stay calm and eat something low in carbs, high in fat and high in protein – you’re more likely to sleep like a baby. Low carbs reduce the likelihood of an insulin spike while sleeping and high protein and fat fuels healthy regeneration of muscle tissues, providing fuel for the functioning of your cells during restorative sleep.

MY BEST OPTIONS FOR THIS? Almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, hulled hemp seeds! Crack some sea salt over them (or have the ‘nut butter’ versions with some raw veggies) and I promise you, you will feel more rested, more rejuvenated and better prepared for the tasks you need to complete the next day.

So there are my 5 essential tips for a good nights sleep! Plenty of information to get your teeth into and even if you only use one of them, it could greatly change the quality of your sleep and general wellbeing. Please share with anyone who has problems sleeping or you think might benefit from this information…Thank you and see you next time.

Patrick Moore Jones