CONSISTENCY. THE KEY TO SUCCESS.

Yes, that’s it. It’s consistency. There’s no magic formula.

Woody Allen once said “80% of success is showing up!”

And that’s as true for weight loss and fitness as it is for ANYTHING else.

You don’t need a magic bullet. You don’t need to find a magic diet (by the way, if you ever did, Carb Down is the one!), you need to control and manage your calories in and make sure you’re increasing your calories out. And you need to do it every day! That’s it.

So, have you made the decision to change your life and finally lose that fat, forever?

If you have, good on you! You’ve made a huge decision. It won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever was. You’ll have to work at it, and on occasion, you’ll need to dig deep, but you have within you the power to make it happen.

And the key to it is consistency!

Effort, sweat, tears all count but you’ve got to turn up with your game face on EVERY DAY! It’s not a week long thing that stops at the weekend. It’s EVERY DAY and it starts NOW.

Know your reason, know your motivation, and now make it happen. EVERY DAY. Make the commitment to yourself and make it happen EVERY DAY.

Change your habits, eat clean food, exercise, think positively EVERY DAY.

Every morning when you wake up renew that commitment. Focus on the most difficult thing for you. If it’s exercise, make that your priority. If it’s food, plan your diet in the morning so you know what’s coming in the day. Don’t leave it to chance, take control.

The most amazing thing will happen. You’ll start to notice results. Then, gradually, your family will too. Then the rest of the world will too. You’re not doing it for them, that’s true but it will feel good when the fruits of your labours are apparent to everyone else.


 

In the past you stopped when you reached your goal. This time don’t. When you reach your first goal, set yourself another. Avoid the tendency to slip back, yo-yo ing back to the beginning. Set yourself another goal and focus on consistency. Make it happen EVERY DAY!

Anyone for Conkers?

Mixed feelings walking the dog last night. We have a number of mature Horse Chestnut trees in our local park. I noticed, walking round the park, that the ground under the trees was covered in conkers; in and out of their shells, large and small….hundreds of them! 

Now, OK, this might be a regional thing. I didn’t grow up in the east of the country.

 

But what happened?

 

30 years ago you wouldn’t have found a single conker under a Horse Chestnut tree. And, in fact, the minute they were ripe, there probably wouldn’t have been many in the branches of the tree either!!

 

We played conkers.

 

To play conkers you need, guess what…..conkers!

 

We knew where the Conker trees were.

 

Autumn brought Sunday afternoons collecting conkers. We (our parents) drove us miles to the best trees. We threw various sticks into the trees to knock down the conkers which hadn’t fallen under their own ripeness, until it was too dark to throw large sticks into the trees…!

 

We had recipes designed and refined over years to make those conkers super-hard.

 

We kept them from one year to the next, we soaked them in vinegar, we baked them, we stripped the skin, we tended them and looked after them and we fought one another viciously for the scalps of our friends’.

 

Not any more it would seem.

 

No one here it seems plays conkers. I did feel sorry I hadn’t passed on that tradition to my son. He doesn’t know the fun of conker collecting, drilling holes with a bradawl (and the pain as the bradawl found flesh the other side of the conker!). His son won’t either.

 

It wasn’t a fad. We played every year. (We found boxes of mouldy conkers from the previous year, every year!).

 

Has the game been a victim of the PC brigade terrified of the potential danger and the risk of legal action? Have the schools killed an ancient game? Maybe the kids just aren’t allowed to risk their live in that way anymore?

 

Or, maybe “conkers” just isn’t in fashion.

 

(Don’t worry, I picked up loads, so if you’re up for a game, just let me know…I’ve got a few saved from last year too! – JB aged 10.)

Holiday Heaven. 

I love the feeling of going on holiday.

The sense of excitement grows in the midlifeman household to near fever pitch in the weeks and finally days leading up to a holiday (I swear the dog can feel the change in energy – although I’m not totally sure he knows what’s coming.). A holiday is wholesale change. It’s an escape, a break from the run of the mill, a chance to do all the things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time. It’s even the chance to be in sunshine, a proper summer away from the Met Office’s amber weather warnings, increasingly common in August in the UK.

I need to make the most of the break so I’ve been thinking about how best to optimise my time on this holiday to really benefit, both physically and mentally. To make sure that by the end of the holiday I’ve given myself the greatest opportunity to get what I know I need.

Our last holiday as a family was a long time ago. In the meantime we’ve done holidays with friends (twice), we’ve done holidays with family; we’ve done the “big” expensive one and we’ve done the budget option. All have had their moments of sheer brilliance alongside profound challenges. And yet, regardless of where we’ve been in the world, neither have really delivered that proper relaxing experience that I so crave this time!

So what’s the plan?

What does “relaxing” mean?

How do we know if we’re getting there?

————————————————————————————————–

All good questions. What did you think?

I’ve been on my holiday now for 3 days. It’s everything I had hoped for.

The antithesis of my “normal” life. Hot and sunny when it’s usually cold and rainy. Sleeping until I wake rather than waking with my alarm. Not working. No dog to walk (it’s ok, I do miss the dog!). Not even watching TV.

Ironically, I’ve been thinking about work quite a lot; but the distance seems to give better clarity. I’ll have a great “to-do” list by the time I get home. It doesn’t feel like I’m thinking about work because I have to but almost because I want to, I’m allowing myself to.

I am relaxing. I feel better. I’m enjoying being with my family. I’m spending quality time with the Mrs. It’s all good.

I am working to create that life that doesn’t need an escape. (It can’t be right that we spend 50 odd weeks a year working for two weeks doing what we want, can it?) I don’t want to escape my life, I want to create a life which I don’t want to escape.

Self improvement not self help!

What’s your passion? And does it really matter?

Do we need to find our passion?

I hear, on a frighteningly regular basis, that we should be searching for our passion and when we find it, to build a business around it so that when we have we will never actually have to work another day in our lives.

Some of us know what that passion is, some of us always have known where our passion lies and some even make a living from it. But what do you do if you’re not one of the lucky few, like me? If my future happiness depends on my ability to monetise my passion, and I don’t already know what it is, how do I go about finding it?

Altucher, as ever, came up with a great suggestion: if I took you into Barnes and Noble or Waterstones and told you you had to find a section and read every book in that section, which section would you choose (and just out of interest, which section would you avoid?) to make a start on first?

That’s a pretty good starting point. After all, you would only choose a section you were truly interested in, right?

Which section did you choose?

Is that your passion?

In fact, Altucher’s suggestion goes one step further. After you’ve finished reading all the books in that first section, which section do you go to next? And, having established your two passions, let’s say: underwater diving and photography, how do you go about combining the two to create an even greater specialisation? (That example is pretty straightforward and not that niche, but say your passions were skateboarding and cookery, what would that combination look like as a business?)

My point is this: I think you either know what your passion is, or you don’t and that actually, because we become passionate about things we’re good at, you don’t need to try to figure out what you’re passionate about, it is more productive to think about things you’re good at. It’ll come easier that way anyway and you’ve got a good head start as far as mastery goes too.

So, do we need to know what our passion is before we start a business. No, not really. If you do, it helps, but if you don’t, start with what you’re good at and the rest will follow. Certainly, don’t wait, get started and you’ll know soon enough!

Me?

I’m off to Waterstones.

Just get on with it!

Why is it so hard to get started on something you know you’ve got to get on with?

I admit it, I’m the kind of midlifeman who needs a project. I’ve always got one on the go. For most of my life it’s been weight training. It’s always been there and it’s always been just there. I didn’t ever need to think about it, I just did it. Spare time, energy, health. Ticked all the boxes. For years.

It didn’t feel like a project because it was always there.

But I made a conscious decision to stop.

I guess I didn’t realise I needed a project, but looking back I can see that even as a kid I always had a plan outside of the normal. Something to work on, learn and do.

As a “grown-up” and since I decided not to train, I’ve had to have a project on the go. For a while it was foreign exchange trading, it’s been writing (to be honest, that one hasn’t quite gone away), I have two motorcycles in a state of re-build, and I only stopped working out two years ago…

Perhaps I was looking for a outlet. An alternative to work (ok, don’t mention the childhood, who knows what that was about!?) or an alternative to home life. I’ve been trying to remember what was going on in my life at those times when I felt it necessary to have a project on the go. And, on the contrary what’s going on now that my subconscious mind is stopping me getting back to it!?

So why is it that I can’t get down to it and concentrate on my current project?! Why isn’t my project enough to capture my attention.

More than that, I can’t get back to training either!

What is wrong with me?

Hmmmm, maybe nothing , maybe I just need the conscious brain to take over to get it done. Maybe there’s a time when the subconscious brain knows you need a diversion but that you need the conscious brain to take the hint and act on the subconscious brain’s guidance.

I’m on it!

A family affair! Thoughts on an ageing family…

family

Midlifeman visits not-so-midlife parents, no beaches for miles!

I’m lucky. For lots of reasons, I know. Never more so than for the fact that I have a great relationship with my family. It hasn’t always been so (that’s a post for another day) but we’re tighter as a family than we’ve been for years.

We’re visiting the family this weekend. Actually, my parents.

It is said that, by the time you leave home at 18, you’ve have 90% of all the time you’ll ever have with your parents.

We see my parents twice or maybe 3 times a year. They’re not getting any younger and I guess, if we’re lucky we’ll have them around for another 7 to 10 years….which means at the best I will have another 30 occasions to spend with them; at worst, maybe only 10!

My question for this post is this : knowing how many times I have left to spend with them, should that alter the way I sepnd that time? Are there things I should be asking them? Are there things I should be telling them?
And what about me and my children?

I think it’s probably traditional for the average British midlifeman to steadfastly look the other way and just keep going.
I don’t think I can do that.

So how do I optimise the remaining time/s I have in my parents’ company? Or do I just increase the amount of time I’m actually spending with them?

Well, I’ve thought this through a lot. I can’t change the way I behave when I’m with them, that would just be weird. After all, it’s taken a long time even to get where I am now in our relationship. Changing who I am when I’m with them would be a massive undertaking which probably wouldn’t help and could actually be quite destructive. So, it’s me, the current me and more effort going into seeing them more often.
And there’s more to it than that, because I can make a material change to the way I am around my own kids. I’ve got plenty of time to spend with them (haven’t I?) so we can change that up a gear to make we’re putting effort into every opportunity and, although it’s a hideous cliché, taking every opportunity to make memories.

…..or I could just look the other way and get out for a ride on my motorcycle! (Joking)

 

How I got my sleep back!

I’ve always been a good sleeper. Sleeping at night has never been a challenge, and in fact neither has sleeping in the day! I always counted myself extremely lucky that I could sleep pretty much anywhere. I know second hand the trauma of insomnia and I know first hand what it’s like to wake up worrying in the night. The 3am Terror. Lying in bed unable to get back to sleep, my mind full of concerns which, 4 hours later, in the cold light of day, I do nothing about!

So I’m a good sleeper but I haven’t taken it for granted. I know, like many of us middle aged men, I need my eight hours, but I can survive on less (survive?), and actually I can make it through a week getting more and more tired as long as I know the weekend is a quiet one. On the flip side, I hate starting a working week feeling tired because I know how hard it is to keep going when I’m feeling tired. I am pretty consistent though, I know I need my sleep and I know I can handle most things when I’m not feeling exhausted.

Hence, when I say I knew something wasn’t right with THAT job, one of the first signs I noticed was a real change in my sleep pattern. And not in a good way.

Instead of the 3am Terror being an infrequent occurrence, I was waking up every night at 3am (almost like there was an alarm going off in my head) but instead of falling asleep again eventually, this time I just couldn’t get back to sleep. So I was effectively sleeping 4 hours a night! Thank goodness it didn’t occur to me to get sleeping pills. But I did use alcohol to “help” me relax before bed (I know, that should have been a sign in itself, right?) and although that did help initially, it really didn’t make that much difference.

More tired and just getting worse.

So the weekends took on a disproportionate level of importance as afternoon sleeps on Saturday and Sunday helped me catch up. So now, I’m eating into family time too.

When the job came to an end the relief was tangible. I nearly cried. But most of all that first night I slept like a baby. In an instant the stress had gone and with it the 3am Terror. My sleep pattern didn’t come back immediately though and I’ve had to work at getting a balance back to help me find my way back to what I had.

And the rules:

1. Exercise – a tired body is a critical factor to a good night’s sleep.

2. Less alcohol – sure, a glass of wine is a brilliant thing, but not every night.

3. No iPad or iPhone within an hour of bed – harder than you think but very important.

4. Start reading fiction again last thing before bed.

5. Eat earlier so I don’t go to bed with a full stomach.

6. Get “stuff” done in the day. Work hard and know that I’m being efficient with my waking hours.

My rules. And they’re working for me. I am getting back to normal. I didn’t realise the effect stress was having on me, but it certainly helped when it’s not there any more.