How to Infinitely Improve your Will Power

Do you have stong or weak will? When faced with temptation, can you easily abstain or do you fold faster than a poker player whose had their bluff called?

This is actually a trick question because you are in fact both strong willed and weak willed. It all depends on the situation. Allow me to explain.

The Will Power Paradox

Let’s try a thought experiment; we are going to tempt a person with strong will and a person with weak will.

try-a-little-powerlessness_1

Suppose we tempt them with a cupcake when they are both ‘on a diet’. Who’s going to give in first? I only have one piece so they can’t both take it. Your might think that the weak willed person will cave in and take it, giving up on their diet plans.

Suppose now we change the temptation from a cupcake to $100. They now have to convince me who to give it too? Who is more likely to convince me? In this context most people would agree that a strong willed person will have a greater desire for the cash.

In both of these situations the temptation has been something both people have desired, but the results have differed.

The reason for this is that humans can use their unique ability of logic and foresight to make illogical decisions. Basically we tell ourselves ‘We will give in this time, but next time we will resist.’ Our future selves are our perfect selves.

Will Power is totally dependent on the situation.

This is the paradox and this is why will power, whether you believe you are strong willed or weak willed, can not be relyed on alone to achieve a goal. Unless you truley desire the procedure and the outcome, you will eventually cave in and return to what you really desire.

Get unlimited Will Power

Let’s use the example of weightloss. Sure most people have a desire to be slim or skinny, but there is also the desire for Pizza that contridicts this. Desire for food is a survival instinct and is therefor one of the strongest desires known to mankind. Trying to use Will Power to resist eating is like trying to put out a forest fire using a watering can. You might change a little in the short term but the fire will soon continue to spread.

To change this we must learn to desire the procedure as well as the outcome. There are 2 steps to this:

Step one

Realise that your current lifestyle choices are not pleasureable. You might think you enjoy your choices but if you end up feeling guilty, sick and sluggish, that’s your brains way of telling you it’s not right. If you use logic to decide where you want to be, but your day-to-day choices don’t get you there, any short term pleasure that you get from these choices is an ‘anticipation’ pleasure caused by dopamine response that doesn’t actually produce any happy feelings, hence why you feel guilt, not happiness when you act on these desires.

delayed-gratification

Step two

The last step is to improve your ‘Why Power’. While your Will Power will differ from situation to situation, your ‘Why Power’ is what this depends on. There are a number of things you can do to improve your why power:

Think shorter term – If you diet now, in a months time you might have lost 4 or 5 pounds. This is too long to wait and your day to day weight loss is too small for a scale to measure. Your why power should be more immediate. Think ‘I want to lose weight so I can be healthier everyday.’, ‘I never want to feel like crap again.’ or ‘I want to feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin every day.’

Make it personal – Many people achieve a goal shortly after being told they can’t or that they are not good enough. There’s something about want to prove someone wrong that gives us the strength of a God to achieve a goal. The diet industry has it’s arm around your shoulder and is then laughing behind your back as you repeatedly fail. Get out of that trap, you don’t need any special pills, potions or programs to lose weight. Nature has the answer, eat good healthy colourful food in abundance and avoid the fast food, do a little bit of exercise every day and you’ll be there in no time.

Be accountable – Don’t just tell yourself you are doing it, tell your best friends. They might even want to join you on your journey. Just be careful of the jealous ones that see your success as a threat and try to bring you back down to their level.

Unlimited Will Power is within your reach. You soon start to feel sorry for the people that are struggling with the very thing you once struggled with. Once envy has turned into pity unlimited will power is yours. Thanks for reading. Comment on what you think below. Follow me on here or on twitter @GGreenFitness.

Why do you keep eating food that makes you fat?

It’s a conundrum. You want an amazing body, bundles of energy, beautiful skin and hair. You want to wake up feeling alive and uplifted every morning. But you also want to have your cake (and eat it all).

If you are reading this, chances are you have probably experienced the following inner monologue on multiple occasions that goes like this; ‘I feel so fat, I wish I hadn’t ate that. I’m sick of this, from now on I am going to eat healthy food and cut out the crap.’ – You make this decision with great conviction and you feel really good about your new found healthy attitude. So how come you continually succumb to the allure of that packet of crisps or bar of chocolate just a day or two later?

The hot-cold empathy gap

In psychology there is something known as the hot-cold empathy gap. When we initially make the decision we are in a psychologically cold place. Having recently ate the food we wish we hadn’t we feel guilty and have no desire for the food. The empathy gap comes about once the feelings of guilt and disgust have dissipated and you are once again in a tempting (psychologically hot) situation.

The first few hours after making the decision to be healthier are pretty easy. Simply thinking about being healthy makes us feel good. Once we have stopped feeling bad about ourselves and we have begun eating a healthier diet we will soon find ourselves in a tempting situation. Perhaps you’re hungry at work and the nearest food is the crisps and chocolate in the vending machine or your spouse suggests ordering food from a greasy pizza place.

This is a psychologically ‘hot’ decision, do we go for a healthier option or give in to temptation and order the biggest pizza on the menu with all the sides.

Unfortunately the choice for most people is often the latter. Nothing about us has actually changed from the previous time we gorged ourselves into a food coma and even though you can logically reason why you should choose a healthy meal, our brains are wired in such a way that we can also justify the junk.

The many voices in your head

Different parts of our brain evolved at different times. How these parts of the brain interact will ultimately decide your behaviour and choices.

In the Triune model of the brain, Paul D. MacLean explains different parts of the brain are specialised to specific tasks such as eating, decision making and logic. The limbic system is the part of our brain that holds the emotional impulses of our animal insticts. It wants you to eat whenever there is food available and it is stuck in the past. It doesn’t know there is an abundance of food for everyone. It is also very powerful and aggressive. Dr Steve Peters describes this part of you as a chimp inside your head that means well but can’t control his or her emotions.

The Neo-Cortex is the part of our brain that allows our logic. It allows us to hold models of the world so we can predict the outcome of our actions without having to carry them out. While you might think this allows us to always make the best decision, it’s not quite that simple. We have an amazing ability to rationalize even the most irrational decisions. This is one of the reasons brain damage patients can go on acting as if nothing has changed.

These two parts of the brain recieve automated information from cues in different parts of our brain (the ‘reptilian’ part of our brain, completing our triune brain) and stimuli from the environment and must work together to decide the best action based on what they know.

Chimp Brain

Let’s use the case of the wanting to gorge on junk food to see how they work together. Because of modern technologies, a lot of the food we eat is highly addictive. We are programmed to enjoy high fat, high sugar foods, so scientists have found a way to make food far higher in fat and sugar than anything that would be found in nature. When debating whether or not to eat the food the decision will ultimately be made as a result of the communications in your brain. Heres how it goes:

Reptilian brain is impulsive and just wants to enure survival, it says,- ‘Eat anything that restores our blood sugar and keeps us alive. The last time we ate that we stayed alive so eat that.’

Chimp brain is emotional and wants maximum satisfaction - ‘That food is really nice, eat as much of it as you can while it is there, it might not be there later.’

Human brain first tries logic, as it has our future selves in mind - ‘There are probably a lot of far better choices available if I think about it. Eating this food will ultimately make me fat and could harm us.’

Chimp Brain uses implicit memory from previous similar situations - ‘But the reptilian brain said it was fine last time, it will probably be okay again.’

Human Brain uses reasoning to giving in to temptation and assumes our future self will be better prepared to deal with it - ‘I’m going for a run tomorrow so I’ll burn it off. I’ll have it this time and next time I’ll choose the healthy option.’

So we eat these foods and the chimp inside our heads says ‘Eat more, eat more’, and before we even have time to think about the consequences we are on our second and third helping. Our human brain has been influenced by the more powerful chimp and has used it’s ability to make sense of any world view to justify an illogical decision. Let’s be clear here; the decision to eat junk food is as illogical as the decision to smoke a cigarette. In the third world there is an abundance of healthy, natural food available for all of us. This food nourishes our cells and keeps our emotions in check better than any junk food ever could.

In an ideal world our human brain would ignore our chimp in these situations and we really would be able to eat healthy food all of the time and never be tempted. The good news is that there is a way to break out of this cycle. Understanding why we do it is a good place to start and just by reading this article you are better placed to deal with similar situations from now on.

If you’d like to me to write part 2 of this post; How to stop eating the food that makes you fat please like, share, comment and retweet this post. If this post reaches 50 Likes, shares, comments and retweets I’ll write part 2. Follow me to find out more @GGreenFitness.

Do we need apps in order to stay fit?

Health and Fitness apps are big business. There are thousands of apps available that claim to be able to make keeping fit easier than ever.

Ape-to-Apple-ipad2

There are various types of health and fitness apps. In this post we will look at apps that track your progress on a goal, help you with your individual workouts and apps that help you track exactly what type of foods you are eating.

Apps that track progress on a goal

These types of apps allow you to see exactly where you started and how far you are from a goal. In health and fitness these types of apps might track your progress toward completing a marathon or doing 50 push ups without stopping or losing a certain amount of weight.

Pros:

  • They can be motivational, especially when you see how far you have come from your starting point.
  • They can help you identify what works best for you – If you see great results in a certain week, you can repeat what you did that week.

Cons:

  • If they don’t show good, clear results from your hard work they can lead to you giving up.
  • it can be time consuming if the app is not automated.

Do we need them? They are handy for some goals.

Workout Apps

These apps help you with your workourt, whether it be a simple timekeeper or full workout builders.

Pros

  • They help stay strict on your rest and work periods.
  • They can provide ideas, motivation and structure for people unfamiliar with exercise routines.

Cons

  • Having your phone out all the time can be a distraction.
  • Some apps charge you for what effectively is a stop watch.

Do we need them? Some people would benefit.

Lifestyle/Diet tracker apps

These apps track a particular feature of your lifestyle, such as what you eat or how much you sleep, in order to improve health.

Pros

  • They can highlight parts of your routine that are leading to ill health.

Cons

  • People become reliant on these when really we should be able to eat right and sleep enough by listening to our body.
  • They can be massively time consuming. Things like tracking everything you eat can be really inconvenient, especially when you are out for a meal.

Do we need them? Only for habit building, never long term.

Apes don’t need apps

It is fair to say that some people have become obsessive over their smart phones. Tim Ferriss sumed this up aptly when he said ‘Technology is a great slave, but a terrible master.’ This means that if you are constantly checking your facebook, your emails or your daily calorie intake then you have let technology become your master and are harming your health and creativity with an e-addiction. Technology should be used sparingly, and to make time not waste time.

In truth, no apps are essential to keeping you fit and healthy. Some people are so out of touch with their mind and body that an app could be used to reset the balance and build some good habits, but most of the time there’s a far better long term solution… Put it this way, I’ve never seen an Ape track it’s protein, yet they know exactly when and what to eat, when to sleep and just how active to be in order to survive.

What apps do you use? Do you think you have an unhealthy obsession with any particular apps? Let me know in the comments below. Like and Share on Facebook/Twitter. You can follow me @GGreenFitness

The Big Juice Spring Clean – Results

I have completed The Big Juice Spring Clean and I feel great. 5lbs in 5 days is what is promised and that is probably the minimum you ca expect to lose, provided you have weight to lose.

Five days on nothing but juice may sound drastic for some people, especially for those who have no experience of juicing but it’s really not as hard as you expect. It’s not like your fasting, in fact you get more nutrients into your body than at any other time while on the juice cleanse.

VeggiesforMarinHealthyPalooza

So, without further ado, my results for the 5 days were:

Before Cleanse After Cleanse
Weight 152lbs (10st 12lbs) 146lbs (10st 6lbs)
Body Fat 12.5% 11.1%

I lost 6lbs and 1.4% body fat. This kind of body fat percentage drop in just 5 days is amazing. It’s also clearly noticeable, muscles look more defined and the stomach is flatter.

These results are just the tip of the iceberg though. The real results rely in something that is a lot harder to quantify. I slept better, I needed less sleep and I felt energised in the morning. I stopped feeling tired and needing a caffeine pick up in the evening (which was the main thing I wanted to address). These results have stuck with me since finishing the cleanse and I have had cravings for healthy foods. Seriously, I had a massive craving for broccoli and spinach on day 4.

If you’d like to try your own juice cleanse read http://greenhealthandfitness.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/how-to-detox/ and http://greenhealthandfitness.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/55/ for some tips and check out Jason Vale’s 5lb in 5 days book for the program.

Thanks for reading. Do you want to try a juice cleanse? What aspects of your health would you like to improve? Leave a like and comment below. Also follow me @GGreenFitness for all my latest musings on life.

The Big Juice Spring Clean – Update

The punultimate day has arrived. Having consumed nothing but veggie juices and smoothies for the past 3 days I am surprisingly energetic. This short post is just an update on how I felt on each day.

JuiceCleanse

Day 1 – A few hours after my second juice (about 3pm), I felt a major energy slump and tiredness. I even fell asleep for a short time on my break at work. I had been feeling afternoon tiredness for quite a while, which is one of the reasons I embarked on this juicy quest, and I’d usually go to a popular coffee chain for a hit of caffeine to make it through the rest of my day. After my 1 hour exercise class at 6pm I had my last juice of the day. It was needed but I did not go to bed feeling too hungry.

Day 2 – The first thing I did was my morning jog. Nothing strenuous but I did get a decent 2.5 miles in. I felt a little less hungry today but my energy levels were still quite low. I managed to stay awake but my 6pm exercise class did really tire me out. I woke up at 4am because of outside noise and couldn’t get back to sleep for an hour or so, eventually waking at 7am.

Day 3 – Today was a day off from work. I made my juice and had it first thing in the morning as I was going to be out for a while sorting things out. I was out longer than expected, only just managing to abstain from eating when I smelled the bakery in the supermarket. No tiredness in the evening. I expected to be super tired on day 4 as I had to be up at 5:30am and stayed out late doing the pub quiz (which we did not come even close to winning).

Day 4 (Today) – Alarm goes off at 5:30 and I feel… Brilliant. Not tired in the slightest. Not hungry. Plenty of energy. I think this is what they call the juice high. I can clearly see more definition in my muscles, a sign that my body fat has dropped. One more day to go and it’s plain sailing from here.

On saturday I’ll post the results and perhaps a picture. Follow me blog and follow me on Twitter @GGreenFitness. Thanks for reading.

The Big Juice Spring Clean

Starting this Monday I Will be doing Jason ‘The Juice Master’ Vale’s 5 Day ‘Big Juice Spring Clean’. I will be posting pictures and recipes on Twitter @GGreenFitness and Instagram @Gazry as well as posting my results and how I found it on here.

juicing

I’ve been a fan of juicing for many years and went to work for Jason at his retreat in Turkey in 2012. The juice cleanse is a great way to restore your natural energy levels (for some people who are over-reliant on stimulants these will be quite low) and give your digestive system a well deserved break after some winter indulgences. And, the most important thing for some people, lose at least 5lbs in time for the weekend. I don’t personally do the cleanse for weightloss reasons, it’s just a happy side effect for me.

Anyone who tries to tell you juicing isn’t healthy or that there isn’t any difference between juicing and eating doesn’t quite understand the reasons behind why we do it. All of the enzyme activity is preserved when you eat these fruits and vegetables in their raw form. All of the nutrients contained within is easily digestable in the juice form. The goodness gets an express delivery to your cells and you start to feel all of the amazing effects after just 3 or 4 days.

Just as enzymes are catalysts in the chemical reactions inside your body, a juice cleanse can be a catalyst in improving your overall health and lifestyle.

If you’d like to join in the cleanse you can sign up and get free advice at http://www.bigjuicespringclean.com/

Happy Juicing,

Gary

What is your Ideal Weight?

Today I read a quite unbelievable article in national newspaper The Metro in the UK. Apparently an NHS nurse told a female body builder she was overweight and needed to go on a 1,000 calorie a day diet. While I hope this is perhaps taken out of context and sensationalised, I have witnessed firsthand some misconception about body weight and BMI.

http://metro.co.uk/2014/03/26/a-picture-of-obesity-nhs-tells-bodybuilder-she-must-lose-weight-and-exercise-more-4679903/

29 BMI is technically classes as overweight. What would the mirror tell this girl?

29 BMI is technically classes as overweight. What would the mirror tell this girl?

One example springs to mind from a from a few years ago. I was explaining body stats to two girls who were friends. They were both very keen to find out their BMI. I told the first girl she was at 21.5 and then told the second girl she was at 22.3. At this point the first girl put her hands up in celebration as if she’d just achieved something great, and the second girl let out a sigh of disappointment. Such is our obsession with low body weight and BMI, even when it was shown that the girl with the higher BMI had many results showing a well above average relating to her fitness, she still wished she could be more like her ‘skinnier’ friend.

How much should you weigh?

The first thing we must realise is that all of the equations we use for measuring ideal weight, such as BMI, were invented by people. Nature did not set the parameters, people did.

We are told that a BMI between 25 and 30 is classed as overweight, but BMI does not take into account many factors that are more important to health than actual overall weight. In fact, it has been shown that people in the overweight category actually have a lower risk of death (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/recipe-for-a-long-life-overweight-people-have-lower-death-risk-8434743.html). Although I am not a fan about this type of study, it does show how silly it can be putting exact categories on a sliding scale (as if someone who has 30 BMI has a whole host of potential health problems that someone who is 29.9 totally protected from).

The second thing to consider is that our overall body weight is affected by a variety of things, including muscle mass, hydration and carbohydrate levels. We should not let a number on the scales effect how we feel.

So what is the best measurement to use?

The best way to check whether you are at an ideal weight is by going off how you look and feel. If you look great, your eyes are bright, your hair is shiny and your skin is clear then you are probably pretty healthy. How alert do you feel? How awake? What are your energy levels like? If you leap out of bed every morning excited for the day ahead then you are on the right track. On the other hand if it takes you half an hour just to roll out of bed and 3 cups of coffee before you can get a coherent though there might be some things you need to work on.

Asking questions like these is a far better indicator of health than a number on the weighing scales. Alot of the time it is totally unnecessary to check a persons weight. Imagine an obese person walking into their doctors to see their GP. They struggle up the stairs and slump down on the doctors chair, which shake under their mass. Is it really nessecary to put this person on some scales to see there is something wrong? The person already knows what the problem, they eat too much of the wrong things. The doctor can tell just by looking that this person is overweight. Why humiliate them by getting them to step on the scale? The person probably feels bad enough already. The doctor would be better off giving them a compulsory 10 minutes cardio vascular workout and showing them something they can do everyday in their home, or referring them to someone like myself who can do that for them.

How are you feeling about yourself?

Ask Yourself the following questions 20 minutes after waking, lunchtime 12-1pm and in the evening 4-6pm

How much energy do I feel I have right now?

How awake/alert do I feel right now?

How do I feel about my body/fitness right now?

After asking these questions and noting down the results for 2 or 3 days, start looking for patterns. Are you always tired in the afternoon? Do you have zero motivation in the morning? Do you find it hard to sleep at night? There could be some simple lifestyle/routine changes that could give you much more energy evenly spread throughout your day, make you feel happier and even lose a few pounds without trying.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and found some useful insights, please hit the LIKE button. If you want to share your thoughts leave a comment at the bottom. SHARE and RETWEET on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like more tips and advice you can follow me on twitter @GGreenFitness