Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Hallelujah - Alexandra Made It To No1

Just as Obama last week, Alexandra Burke achieved her dream of winning the X Factor.

She achieved it through hard work, through focus and through knowing what she wanted and where she wanted to be.

The knock back she received three years ago only served to spur her on and make her more determined, and she used that time wisely, honing her skills, working towards the day she knew would come.

We can all learn a lesson from Alexandra. When you get a knockback, you have a choice. You can lie down or you can come back fighting.

Most of the men I admire today came back from nothing. Paul McKenna was down to his last few pennies, Anthony Robbins built a successful business and lost it all, leaving him with less than nothing. Simon Cowell was virtually bankrupt, Victor Mark Hansen was declared bankrupt by the courts. Richard Branson had many failures. Peter Jones hit rock bottom.

In other words, there’s hope for all of us. As the saying goes, “Once you hit rock bottom, there’s only one place to go and that’s up”.

So, if you’re going through hard times, start asking yourself what you really want. Take the time to listen, and you might find the answer surprising.

Then, once you know what you want, TAKE ACTION. Start focusing on the future, and think of how you can get there.

What’s the one thing you can do today that will bring you one step closer to your goal? It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Start with baby steps.

Stu Mittleman, the world record holder for Ultra Distance running, said

“I never ran 1000 miles.
I could never have done that.
I ran one mile 1000 times.”

So start with those baby steps.
But whatever you decide to do, START.

Weight Loss - What's Realistic For You?

Do you, like me, pour over the latest issue of Heat or Hello, wishing you looked like the model on the cover?

Well, guess what, so does the model! They don’t look like that in real life. They’ve been airbrushed to within an inch of their lives. You only have to look at the “Stars Without Makeup” features (or work as an air hostess and carry them on your flight) to know that they are actually human.  Admit it. Who hasn’t looked at Cameron Diaz or VB and secretly felt smug because your skin is so much better than theirs?

Let’s face it. If we “ordinary” people had an entourage of helpers looking after us – personal chef, personal trainer, nanny, stylist, makeup artist, hairdresser and many more to get us out of the house every morning – wouldn’t we look a million dollars?

Have any of you ever had a professional shot taken? I have. I once went to an agency in Glasgow along with a friend and our mums. Of course that was the day I woke up to find the first spot of the decade radiating out at me from the bathroom mirror.

Anyway, we rolled up in our day clothes, no makeup on, looking decidedly average. But within half an hour we were primped and preened, full face on (the cement still drying), hair teased and twisted into some semblance of order. We had no idea what we looked like. There was a distinct lack of mirrors. I took one look at my friend’s face with the makeup laden on by a trowel and my heart sank.

I was whisked away to my studio, where I was given various what can only be described as “things” to wear on my top half (my bottom half in jeans and boots out of range of the viewfinder).

In one shot I’m standing with a black plastic bin bag wrapped around me.

In another, I am wearing a flying jacket pulled seductively off one shoulder, but let me tell you it felt a million miles away from sexy.

We finished the shoot and I headed back to reception to meet the rest of the gang. Sitting in the bright lights of reception, traces of pan makeup still showing as streaks down our necks and lipstick that these days would pass for a permanent tattoo, we began to wonder what we’d done.

An hour passed. We were getting more and more fed up. Another hour passed. We were deliberating whether to get up and walk out, but curiosity got the better of us.

Finally, we were shown into the screening room, and there we were, on the screen, larger than life for all to see.

And we looked amazing!

My black bin bag looked like spun silk, my hair elegant and understated, my makeup perfect, my skin dewy and blemish free.

My mum, with a white feather boa draped around her shoulders, would have given Ava Gardner in her hey day a run for her money.

Of course we bought the photos. Of course they cost a fortune. Of course my husband had a fit at the amount of money I had spent.

Until he saw the photos. And then he took them into work to show off his perfect wife.

I tell this story because when you decide to lose weight, you have to compare yourself to you. No-one else.
Choose a target weight that is realistic for YOU – size 0 is so overrated anyway – and focus on a time when you were really happy in your skin and felt amazing.

The more you visualise yourself as how you want to be, the more your brain will accept the change as reality, and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Be the best YOU can be, spots, warts and all.

And on bad days?

Find a friend with Adobe Photoshop.

Fears and Phobias

Chris is 12 years old. He has been terrified of the dentist for as long as he can remember. Or, more specifically, of the needles. As a baby, he needed lots of injections and he has carried the fear and bad memories of those times throughout his childhood and into his early teens.

At her wits end, his mum calls me to see if I can help.
I meet with Chris. He knows what I’m there for, and he wants to change but he’s understandably nervous. I mention the “D” word and he collapses, sobbing uncontrollably and shaking from head to foot.

I take him through an exercise which involves running the pictures in his mind backwards, and changing things about the memories to make them comical. Because memories can’t hurt us. It’s the emotions we attach to the memories that affect us, and when we wipe out the bad emotions, we are left with nothing more than an old black and white photo that we can either choose to file away or delete.

Our mind loves processes, so it stores information in a filing cabinet in the brain. It likes to link similar memories and keep them in the same place. For positive memories, this is a good thing. But for negative memories, it means that bit by bit your mind is storing a whole host of bad memories, piling emotions one on top of the other, and when we finally blow up or break down, we're feeling not just the emotion from a single event but from all the stored emotions at once.

Fears and phobias are only maintained because we continue to focus on the thing we’re afraid of, and the more we think of it, the worse it gets.

Using Neuro Linguistic Programming (a fancy term for learning how to use your brain effectively) we can “play” with our mind and change our programming to realise that the fear is not as bad as we were making it out to be in our mind.

Chris had a dental appointment the next day. He still felt slightly nervous but he walked straight into the room, sat down in the dentist’s chair and opened his mouth, ready for treatment.

The dentist stood open-mouthed himself. He couldn’t believe it was the same boy.

Many of us have fears and phobias, whether they be of needles, the dentist, spiders, snakes, dogs, flying... the list goes on.

Most fears and phobias are either linked to a specific event in the past or are learned behaviour from someone else. The good news is, using NLP and hypnotherapy, like Chris, you can be rid of your fears once and for all and get on with your life.

Because life is for living, not for fearing.

Read more about fears and phobias on my website

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Our Deepest Fear

'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It's our light, not our darkness, that mosts frightens us.
We ask ourselves: who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of the universe.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking,
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are born to make manifest the glory of the universe
that is within us. It's not just in some of us: it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
And as we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.'

Marianne Williamson

Paul McKenna Weight Loss blog

Two and a half years ago, I lost 28lbs with Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Thin programme. It was the easiest weight loss system I had ever been on and my life seemed to improve almost overnight. Previously, the most I had lost was 18lbs with weightwatchers, but I put it all back on and more.

In the last two and a half years I have maintained my weight to within + or - 7lbs.

Paul has four golden rules:-

1. Eat when you’re hungry
2. Eat consciously
3. Eat what you want and not what you think you should
4. Stop when you’re full.

That’s it! That’s all.

When I tell people this, they look at me in disbelief. How can you lose weight and eat what you want?

Well, I did. At first, I continued to eat what I would normally eat, but I paid more attention to what I was putting in my mouth, and I got the hang of stopping when I thought I was full. I slowed down my eating and I discovered that there were some foods that I just didn’t like any more. I knew things had changed for the better when I stood in the cafe of Frasers department store and ordered soup and a roll for lunch. Until I opened my mouth, I was going to order a scone and a piece of millionaire’s shortbread, so no-one was more surprised than me when I ordered soup. What’s more, it was delicious.

Suddenly, I had the urge to exercise. I live on the outskirts of Edinburgh and am blessed to have some beautiful walks nearby, so I plugged in my ipod and started walking round the reservoir. I bought myself a pedometer and I diligently recorded my steps in a journal every night.

I was still eating chocolate and chips from time to time, but I wasn’t having cravings, and for the first time ever I was able to eat a couple of squares of chocolate and put the rest of the bar back in the cupboard. After all, naturally thin people eat chocolate, and chips, and pizza – they just know when to stop. I didn’t have to think about food, and I didn’t have to avoid food. Life was much easier.

Eating out was more enjoyable. I could eat anything off the menu as long as I stopped when I felt full. But whereas I would have once picked a creamy pasta sauce, I now found myself naturally drawn to a healthier option. And on the days that I wanted the creamy sauce, I had the creamy sauce and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For the first six months of my weight loss, the weight dropped off at a steady rate. But, as always, the self sabotage started creeping in. I had a few personal challenges and the chocolate and sweet tooth slipped in unnoticed a little at a time. I was busy getting my business up and running and the walks around the reservoir went from being a regular thing, to the occasional treat, to non-existent (there are only so many times you can blame the weather).

How many of you can relate to this?

Interestingly enough, my weight remained constant. I wasn’t losing weight but I wasn’t gaining it either. The changes I had made were obviously on a much deeper level than anything I had done before.

As a coach and therapist, I fully believe that I have to “walk the walk, and talk the talk”. I still have more weight to lose. I’m a size 16/18 and I want to be a size 12. I got complacent because I looked and felt so much better than I did before, and I accepted myself as a size 16/18. But not any longer. I’m ready to deal with what’s holding me back, and I am bringing Paul McKenna back into my everyday life. I know it works for me, and I know it will be easy and effortless. I have some negative emotion that I have to work on, and I will enlist the help of a fellow coach to do that.

Einstein said “You cannot solve a problem in the same consciousness that created it”. I may be a therapist but I still need to ask for help when I need it.

There is a wonderful story about Ghandi .

A woman came to Ghandi and asked him to tell her overweight son to stop eating sugar.

“Madam” he replied. “Come back in three weeks time.”

Surprised at this request, she nevertheless returned with her son three weeks later.

Ghandi looked at the boy and said “Stop eating sugar.”

When the boy had left the room, the mother turned to Ghandi and asked why he hadn’t said this three weeks ago.

Ghandi replied, “Madam, three weeks ago I myself was eating sugar.”

I will keep you posted on my progress. I’m away to dig out my pedometer.