when’s best to make a change?

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Changing habits for the better and making resolutions to improve your life is something we’ve all done. Some seem harder to begin (let alone achieve) than others, and part of this may be down to when we start. I’m a firm believer in simply deciding to make the change and taking some immediate, positive action. However that’s not for everyone; it’s not always possible and sometimes change takes a bit of planning. Subsequently – in the western world at least – we tend to use Monday as the start of a fresh week, Monday’s the day to quit the bad habit and start the good one.

My suggestion is to make that day a Friday instead of Monday.

Why?

I suggest Friday as most of us tend to have a weekend free of our working obligations, we tend to have more time for ourselves. It suddenly becomes a lot easier to maintain and reinforce the positive change when our usual daily demands are lessened. Then, when Monday rolls around, we’re already into the fourth day of the new habit we’re establishing. As a result there’s not the same feeling of trying to get through the week that exists with a change that is instigated on a Monday.

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Over To You

What is one thing you would like to change to improve the quality of your life? Could you make a start, take the first step, however small, today? I look forward to your comments and have a fun and healthy weekend.

will this be in the test?

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When I worked in finance I was required to undertake ‘Continuing Professional Development’ , CPD, on an annual basis. For the best part I was fortunate;  I took action ahead of time and was able to undertake this requirement (in my case a minimum of 40 hours per year) without any last minute panic and therefore mostly by reading up on subjects that interested me. OK, there was only really one area that really interested me – anything associated with leadership and motivational theory.

However, there were several occasions where certain talks or lectures were mandatory; company policy to learn about company policies, or being whisked away from the comfort of spreadsheets to be warned of the latest potential Law or Directive that, if it ever came into legislation, would mean the end of us all. Like a dire prophecy from a fairy tale, but with sub-clauses, caveats and an open-ended consultation period.

You might take from this that I didn’t enjoy doing CPD. Well, yes and no really (as my manager at my first accountancy job was apt to say).  Rather, what I didn’t enjoy was the learning experience. I was being asked to learn in an environment, in a style that simply didn’t suit me. So why was this?

Three Styles Of Learning

Essentially, learning can be summarised into three styles:

  1. Auditory          (one learns by hearing);
  2. Visual               (one learns by seeing);  and
  3. Kinesthetic     (one learns by doing).

The process of learning can be a combination of all three depending on what is being learnt and the manner in which it is being studied. Whilst none of us are wholly one type, we will have a bias to certain styles of learning. For example, I’m a very kinesthetic learner; I learn best when physically engaged. Let me push the buttons and get my hands dirty. Next would be visual, I’m quite good at picking up a book or an article and engaging with it. So as you can imagine, I’m not a very good auditory learner. And CPD was primarily auditory learning. (Usually served up with a dash of Death By Powerpoint for good measure too.)

Learning For Learning’s Sake

Yet that’s not the sole reason, nor do I believe the key reason that I didn’t enjoy this learning experience. The simple fact of the matter was that I wasn’t passionate enough about my then career. Yes, I was good at it, but I didn’t leave each day with a feeling of achievement, of progress.  So learning how to do more of that (career), or learning how to do some of it better was not the solution. For there was no alignment.

Fortunately I no longer experience this. In choosing to work in the world of wellness and health I find that my goals and values are in direct alignment with what I want to learn. The pay-off is in the process. Whether I’m learning the correct technique for a certain exercise or reading up on benefits of a certain yoga style I’m engaged in the learning process as the learning process speaks to my values and motivations.

In coaching I have to meet the needs of each and every client; not only what their goals may be, but also – and perhaps crucially – how best do they learn? How can I repackage my skill and knowledge (ie: information) in such a way that it is knowledge to them (ie: not simply information). How can I give my knowledge in a way that is inspiring and empowering? That is my challenge with learning styles today.

Over To You

How would you describe your feelings towards learning? Which styles and methods suit you best, how do you best learn? Are the things you are studying or learning in good alignment with your values and aspirations? If not, how might you change the playing field to your advantage?

I’d love to hear your comments and stories on learning and I want to leave you with this brilliant infographic about someone for whom learning was not straight-forward.

can exercise be fun?

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It’s typically around this time in January, the start of the third week, where the good intentions set for becoming healthier and more active in the New Year start to become challenging. Maybe it’s happened sooner than that for you, or maybe you’re on a roll with your health and wellness goals. Irrespective of where you are today I hope there’s something of benefit for you in this post.

To answer the question I posed in the title, my answer is yes. And I want to explain my own approach to exercise and coaching whilst providing you with references to two great posts that touch on some aspects of this as well.

First of all, to my mind any exercise should be all of the following:

  1. Safe;
  2. Effective; and
  3. Relevant to your goals.

The added bonus is when it is also fun. Challenging yet inspiring. That’s where the magic is. For I see exercise as being like a menu. Think of (i) your favourite and (ii) your least favourite food. Got them? Good. Now imagine, if you will, going into a restaurant where everything on the menu was a variation, a twist, on your favourite thing to eat. You could have the dessert first if you so desired. Are you going to go back again? Chances are you will. Now imagine a restaurant where they serve only variations of your least favourite food. Your food hell, your food kryptonite. Will you be going back? It’s highly unlikely. So, like a menu, exercise is about making choices; to make it fun where possible whilst sticking to the three key ingredients outlined above.

The superb post by Steet Fitness World on Callisthenics vs Gym Fitness may spark some thoughts on exercise for you, it certainly did for me. However, you may find yourself in a position where you aspire to having a challenging yet inspiring set of exercises but you don’t know (a) what exercises are appropriate for you, (b) which exercises are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck, and/or (c) how an exercise you perhaps don’t care for very much (like the menu, you know it’s good for you, but…) can be modified or progressed to meet your needs?

This is where working with a coach, or mentor, could help you. I may be biased, but from experience I’ve seen it time and again – people who work with a coach or mentor stand a much greater chance of achieving their goals. There are numerous factors in deciding whether to invest in working with a coach and Robert Way’s excellent post, ‘What is Mentoring?’  goes into mentoring in greater detail. For now, I want to give you three key things or factors I would recommend you look for in a coach:

  1. Someone whom you feel you have, or can build, rapport with.
  2. Someone whom will act as a guide, someone whose motivation is to empower you. I strongly believe in the saying, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much they care’. It wholly applies here, coaches should be caring.
  3. Someone whom can hold you accountable.

If you’re a gym member then you’ll appreciate that a  gym can be an intimidating place for a lot of people. So how do you go about hiring a coach if you don’t know where to start? The following may help as a guide to get you started.

  1. Try some classes, especially those taken by staff whom also work as coaches. See first-hand how they motivate and inspire without having to make any commitment.
  2. Ask fellow members. Which coaches do they like, and why?
  3. Be curious as to the outliers, the coaches whom seem at odds with the prevailing environment. Chances are they are doing something different. Talk with them, find out if they can help you with your goals.
  4. Remember, you’re the customer. If a coach isn’t helping you towards your goals in a way that you consider is safe and empowering for you then either hire someone else or join another gym. The power lies with you.

If you are struggling with your health and wellness goals then it’s important to be aware of this: relapse is a natural part of change. It’s OK, it can be a part of the process. This is something I will write about in an up-coming post, providing some tools and tips to help you with relapse. Has this happened to you? If you think you’ve relapsed in your wellness goals or resolutions then all I would ask you to do is simply acknowledge the fact, accept it has happened and resolve to resume the healthy habits you had already started. Be kind to yourself.

Please check out the two linked posts, have a great weekend and, irrespective of whether you’re exercising, have fun!

how you like them apples? 10 practical ideas to help kickstart your nutritional choices.

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If there’s one thing we all have an opinion on then it’s nutrition. I see that as a good thing; it indicates that we do take, to a greater or lesser degree, an interest in the food we eat.

This post was born out of a question a co-worker asked me a few years ago when I worked in finance, and studied health and fitness in the hours in between all of life’s other requests. Essentially, my colleague wanted to reduce weight and burn more calories. He had the gym-work down, but the food-plan was a minefield. It is for a lot of us. It seems you only have to turn on the TV or read an article to discover that last week’s superfood is this week’s one-way express ticket to the hereafter.

So to help my colleague I wrote down ten tips on nutrition and sent them on to him. Then a cool thing happened. Not only was he really grateful for the suggestions but he wondered if he could share them with the rest of his team? He’d told them what I’d written and they were curious. I was more than happy for this to happen. Before I knew it the email was around the company and staff were as likely to come over and ask me questions on diet as they were about cashflow statements.

Here are the 10 tips. (By the time I still have them you’ll know I didn’t put them together on company time. In hindsight perhaps I could have and claimed I was helping with corporate wellness!) I’ve kept them as close to the original email as possible.

(Note: Whilst I hold a Precision Nutrition certification I do not claim to be a nutritionist. Therefore you may wish to consult your doctor or primary health care provider before making any dietary changes.)

  1. keep it simple –  I believe it’s more realistic to take the view to change 100 things 1% than one thing 100%. Take your time with making any changes. Experiment. If something works for you keep it. If it doesn’t, simply ditch it and move on.

  2. portion control – This goes for food and drink. It’s about cutting down calorific intake gradually (e.g. 6 coffees a day to 5, 3 bags of crisps a day to 2, pizza only one night a week instead of twice). If this is something you feel you need to do then you may be surprised to see how suddenly something you thought you couldn’t do without becomes manageable (e.g. 6 coffees a day eventually becomes 1, if not zero). Does all the food on the plate/serving need to be eaten? Many people do this, whether through a sense of obligation/manners/guilt, etc. Listen to your body.

  3. hungry or thirsty? – Often what we think of as hunger could be thirst. Take something healthy to drink. If you still feel hungry 30 minutes later then do have something to eat. Either way, as before, listen to your body. In the same way that one shouldn’t overeat, one shouldn’t over hydrate. Linked to this, one of the reasons people may be prone to overeating is because despite the fact that they have eaten, the body has not been able to begin to absorb nutrients from the food. so the body is still in ‘hungry’ mode. By the time the body has been able to begin to break down the foods an excess has most likely already been consumed. A potential solution to this is to have soup (as a starter); the nutrients are more quickly absorbed by the body and therefore the feelings of hunger dissipate faster meaning that the chances of overeating are reduced.

  4. choices and options – This is where it becomes interesting. And, possibly, confusing. Processed and ready-made, or buying the ingredients and cooking? Organic or not? White bread or brown bread? Full fat or reduced fat? The list of questions goes on and on. The answers however are usually common sense. Quite literally, go with your gut! An area worth paying specific attention to is the products which advertise themselves as being low in fat. To compensate there is a likelihood that such products are probably higher in sugars, which leads me on to my next point.

  5. read the ingredients labels – Know what you’re putting into your body.

  6. eat colourful – Have a variety of colours on your plate. (The flip side of this: if you happen to watch any of the weight loss programmes on TV then, more often than not, when the person’s diet is literally laid before them on a table the overriding colour of the food is brown.)

  7. cooking methods – Avoid frying if possible, but if you have to use only a tiny amount of oil. Steaming is best, followed by grilled and oven baked. Obviously it depends on what it is you are cooking as to the best method for that item.

  8. eat properly – This is not about ‘what’ to eat, rather ‘how‘ to eat. To help one’s body absorb the nutrients of food faster always ensure it is properly ingested. (i.e. take time to chew food properly). Sounds easy, yet how often do we rush our meals? This goes back to the over-eating point above.

  9. discover new foods – This is a personal favourite. Go to a different food shop or supermarket. Or take a walk down differing aisles in your current food store. Find something new and work out what the hell to do with it.

  10. enjoy your food and drink – In many ways the most important tip. After all, if you feel that what you are choosing to eat is in some way a form of deprivation then it won’t be good for your emotional and mental states. Have fun when trying new, and hopefully healthy, food.

If  you find any of the above useful or actionable I’d love to hear how you get on, and if there’s anyone you think might benefit from this tips then please do pass them on.

who I am and why I’m here

As part of the WordPress Blogging 101 project I’ve been invited to introduce myself to the world. So, welcome to my first post.

My name is Kenny Manson and I’m an internationally qualified fitness professional, accountant and musician. I’m passionate and curious about health, wellness, personal development, business, technology and creativity.

At heart I’m a client-centred coach interested in and fascinated by the process of performance – how can we become better at the things we wish to give our best to?

I’m here as I wish to become a better writer. The reason I wish to become a better writer is that I enjoy the creative process; writing provides an opportunity to share aspects of what I’ve learned from the somewhat unusual mix of areas I’ve studied and worked in. And the reason for doing that is, well, why wouldn’t you?

I want to give back some of what I’ve learned to a wider audience and if even only one person finds something actionable in my writing I’ll be happy. That’ll be the aim of my future posts, and I’m looking forward to the evolution of this creative process.

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to check my first post out.

OpenRoad