Pleasure vs Pain

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For most of people, in most of situations pain is pretty far away from pleasure, in fact our minds job is to move us away from pain and towards pleasure.

Yet, most of the time, when we are dieting we work against our brain and put ourselves through pain.

Okay, I’m not saying we stick forks in our hand so we don’t eat cake – not that kind of pain. But small emotional pains that all add up.

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People focus on denying themselves certain foods. They focus on getting up at 5am to go for a run in the rain when they would really rather have a lay in and a cuppa. I used to deny myself carbs and chocolate. I would tell myself I can’t have wine, I have to exercise, I shouldn’t have cake, I must stick to my diet.

What you are saying is, I would like to have this, but my diet is forcing me to do something I don’t want to – you are focusing on the pain.

Have you ever been told to do something you were planning to do anything and then not done it, simply because you were being told to?

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As humans, we don’t like to be told what to do (funny that) so we rebel, even when it is to our own detriment. We cut our nose off to spite our face.

These pains may be small, but our mind still sees it as it’s job to move us away from pain and towards pleasure (the thing we are telling ourselves that we can’t have).

Inevitably we ‘fall off the wagon’, our minds send us every signal it can to ensure it, and then do we feel happy? No, we feel guilty and ashamed because we shouldn’t have eaten a whole bar of chocolate and a bag of Haribo! And now we are in pain, the whole cycle starts again.

But what if we could change that? What if we could link pleasure our diet? To enjoy eating foods that nourish our bodies, give us energy to excel in ourselves and wear the clothes we love?

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You can, by simply changing your focus.

Rather than dictating to yourself all the things you can’t have. Look at the things you can have and the life you creating each time you make healthy choices. Look at all the exciting delicious meals you can make on your favourite apps, look at the wonderful clothes you will be able to wear and think about all you will be able to do by CHOOSING a healthy option every time you CHOOSE a snack. Think about how much fitter and stronger your body is getting every time you CHOOSE to get up and work out.

By making this small change to how you view your diet, you begin re-wiring your brain to link pleasure to making healthy choices. You could take this a step further and remind yourself when you are reaching for an unhealthy snack or skip a workout that you are choosing to slow your progress towards your ideal weight and everything you will gain from being slim.

If you want to change your eating habits, or any other unhealthy behaviour, start by linking pleasure to the things that are good for you, and pain to the things you want to eliminate from your life. When it comes to making healthy changes, this is one of the most powerful techniques at your disposal. Make today the day you book a free call with me so we can get started on creating an action plan tailored specifically for you. Together, we can make your dreams of a healthier lifestyle a reality.


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A diet without restrictionsA diet without restrictions

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Are you restricted?

The answer is always going to be yes, and although it conjures quite a negative image in the mind, we welcome a lot of the restrictions in our lives.

We view some restrictions as very welcome: I am pleased that I can lock my home and know that other people are restricted from entering. I like that concerts are restricted to the number of people the venue can accommodate and I’m sure you are to.

But when it comes to dieting, I hear and see so many people saying that they hate the restrictions dieting comes with. All the things they can’t have.

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And yet, these same people are facing so many other restrictions in their lives that they desperately want to change.

They want to be able to take their children swimming.

They want to be able to go to the cinema.

They want to wear the beautiful outfits they see in magazines and catalogues, but they feel they can’t. They restrict their lives to elasticated waist bands and hiding away their amazing personalities because they feel shrouded by fat.

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When you are only a little overweight or even at your target, it is so much easier to reward yourself and feel great. You skip dessert one evening and you notice it immediately on the scales the next day. You can go for a massage or to the spa, or go on a date.

But when you feel so ashamed of your size, those rewards don’t feel available to you. You can skip dessert but it doesn’t show as quickly, you can’t find clothes that make you feel sexy and the idea of being in swimwear makes you want to hide inside the nearest oversized housecoat you can find.

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No one seems to talk about how much harder it is to reward yourself and to shed weight once you hit a certain point. Exercise and walking is harder if possible at all and emotionally there is a lot of pain with very, very slow gain.

So why would someone choose these restrictions over restricting their diet? Because you are restricted so much in every other way, and food is such an immense pleasure and feels like a reward. So much has been taken from you already, when someone tells you that you can’t have cake as well you aren’t going to listen.

By changing your mindset and really looking at all the ways in which your weight and size restrict your life, you can overcome this and embrace making healthy choices rather than feeling that certain things aren’t allowed.

Are you ready to let go of your weight and size restrictions? Remember, it’s not about depriving yourself or following a strict set of rules. It’s about making healthy choices because you want to be the best possible version of yourself- inside and out. If you’re ready for real change, book a free call with me today. I can’t wait to help you get started on your own journey to health and happiness!


Part 2 – Why your depressed and what you can do about itPart 2 – Why your depressed and what you can do about it

There are many reasons we find ourselves depressed or anxious. I covered most of these last week (if you haven’t already, you can read that here), we may have been told we have a hormone imbalance, we may be suffering from inflammation in the brain, reduced serotonin and reduced neuro-plasticity (the brains ability to communicate with itself, let go of old connections and establish new ones). So if all this is going on in our brain, why am I talking to you about your diet?

We have all heard of the importance of serotonin and dopamine in stabilizing and boosting our mood, but what may surprise you to learn is that 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut and over half of our dopamine is synthesised there too.

The gut is referred to as our second brain, it has it’s own functioning ability outside of the brain allowing it to communicate with the brain. According to Professor Felicia Jacka of the Food and Mood centre, 90% of information travelling this superhighway is going from the gut to the brain, and only 10% from the brain to the gut.

So it makes sense that the foods we eat and the health of our gut directly correlates with the health of our brain.

The truth of it is – Your comfort foods are actually making you feel worse.

That’s right, the foods you eat when you feel low, actually contribute to you feeling worse. The below is a list of foods to minimise in your diet and why they are not helping you shake the blues.

  1. Alcohol, tobacco, other drugs

We know typically these are depressants, and yet we still reach for a glass of wine or a joint to have a good time or numb the effects of stressful day, but they affect the nervous system. Alcohol interferers with our sleep, promotes inflammation as, news flash, our body swells and gets aggravated when we poison it. Add to this that it makes your blood sugar go up and down like a yo-yo, it actively reduces serotonin and actually increases production of hormones that increase your levels of stress and anxiety. It’s a quick fix that not only is toxic to our brain, but damages the gut lining and our healthy bacteria.

2. Added sugar (refined sugar)

We have all been to a children’s birthday party where the children are ‘hyped’ up on sugar and then all get tired and short tempered almost as quickly. The link between the ‘sugar high’ and our food is so similar to that of alcohol or drugs we even treat it as such and limit how much we allow our children to have. We know it’s not good and yet we sit there eating entire chocolate oranges in 10 minutes (or was that just me?)

What sugar actually does is promote inflammation, cause fatigue and irritability, and stop us being able to effectively deal with stress. A study cited by Mind over Munch in their video here, stated that people with a high sugar diet were 23% more likely to develop depression or anxiety.

3. Processed Foods & Fast Foods

We know they aren’t good for us, but the trans fats found in processed and fast food correlate with anxiety, aggression and depression among others. Processed meats are often full of salt , sugar and a lot of…

4. Artificial sweeteners and anything else you can’t pronounce in the ingredients

The clue is the in the name, artificial. They aren’t food and our bodies don’t know how to process them as such. Not only can these ingredients lead to weight gain, they are also associated with headaches, dizziness, migraines as well as mood disorders. If it isn’t food, don’t eat it.

5. ‘White’ grains

When they make white flour, white rice etc, they take away everything that is good about the grain and leave behind what is basically a form of dehydrated glue. Simple carbs like those found in white bread, white rice have nothing good for you, but wow are they full of gluey starch, a simple sugar that causes massive irregularity in your blood sugar.

6. Refined oils

We know how amazing Omega 3 is for our brain health, more about that later, but have you heard of it’s arch nemeses, Omega 6? Neither had I before I started this research, but much like a negative cancels out a positive, Omega 6 (found in refined oils) compete with and block out the Omega 3s. Rather than helping our brain function, Omega 6 causes inflammation, impairs brain function and has been shown to worsen depression. Worth noting a lot of the already really bad fast food, is then fried in refined oil.

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I’m not telling you that you can never have a glass of wine after a stressful week (studies have shown small amounts of red wine have a positive effect on our mood and health), or you can never treat the children to McDonalds, but it should be exactly that – a treat. In order to really help lift our spirits, we need to limit these foods that are literally making us depressed (it’s no surprise that the western world has the highest consumption of these foods and the highest rates of common mood disorders) and eat foods that truly make us happy and function well.

  1. Fatty fish

I promised I would come back to this Omega 3, the undisputed ruler of the brain health foods. Our brains are actually made up of 60% fat. Healthy fats in the form of Omega 3 are fuel to our brains. The best source of Omega 3 is in Salmon, but other fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel and tuna are also good for you. Not to mention all their other health benefits. Also, if you really don’t like fish, Omega 3 is one of the only nutrients that still has a positive effect on mood when taken as a supplement.

Fatty fish also contain amino acids, if the nutrients we take in from food were love letters amino acids would be the envelopes. Tryptophan in particular is the envelope of choice for our happy hormone, serotonin.

2. Nuts and seeds

If you are vegetarian / vegan and cannot eat fish, then you will be pleased to know that walnuts, chia, flax and hemp seeds are also really good sources of plant based Omega 3. Walnuts especially have a recognised mood boosting effect. One study measured participants depression scores and found they were 26% lower in people who ate 1/4 cup of walnuts a day. Eating that amount of walnuts (roughly a dozen halves) also lead to greater optimism, energy, hope and concentration. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of tryptophan.

3. Meat, Poultry, Eggs Dairy AND SOY

All meat, regardless if it is red or white meat is an excellent source of complete proteins and amino acids, although the best sources are chicken and turkey.

Eggs are also a good source of folate and vitamin D, which may have links to our immune health. Folate can also be found in legumes such as beans or chickpeas, as well as nuts and seeds.

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What is folate? Folate is a very clever B9 vitamin who’s job is to help regenerate cells and tissue. Low levels of folate have been linked to increased risk of depression and poor response to antidepressant treatment

4. Vegetables

Of course I’m going to tell you at some point to eat your greens. Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens such as cabbage, spinach and broccoli, are packed full of nutrients and folate. They are also full of antioxidants.

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Why are antioxidants good? Oxidisation of cells in the body, splits them at an atomic level. These atoms have unpaired electrons and zoom around the body looking for another atom to pair up with. Think of it like a pair of magnets stuck together, and then the Oxygen comes in like the flat mate they swear they are just friends with and splits them up leaving one magnet looking desperately for love, and not caring what they wreck in the process. These are what you may have heard referred to as free radicals. They are natural and normal, but like everything, in moderation. If there are two many of them, our body can’t keep up and they can cause diseases and have even been attributed to some cancers. When this happens, the body is in oxidative stress which has also been linked to depression and anxiety.

5. Fruits

A healthy mix of fruits is essential for your diet, but berries are your best choice when choosing mood foods. All berries are some of the most antioxidant rich foods that exist, so much so in blueberries, they are considered a depression food.

Avocado is also great for you, and they are not just for millennials. They are full of healthy fats, folate and also rich in amino acids helping all that good stuff get to where it needs to be.

Keep in mind that any change to your diet in the right direction is going to help you to feel better, you don’t need to become Gillian McKeith overnight to get the benefits, but the more you can eliminate the less helpful foods and eat more of the good stuff, the better you will feel. The catch 22 is, if you are feeling depressed you may not feel worth spending the time and energy to buy and make these foods, but there are really quick, simple and cheap solutions available on line. If you know someone who is depressed, why not make a large batch of something yummy you can take round to a friend (and leave, please don’t put pressure). Something easy to reheat or eat cold they can just grab – Such as a crust-less quiche using yogurt instead of cream and packed full of chicken, red peppers and spinach.

If you would like this quiche recipe, please email me ( and put “Brain Quiche” in the subject.

Please keep in mind, no specific food is a treatment for anxiety or depression, and these recommendations are NOT a substitute for medical or psychiatric advice. Please consult with your physician or mental health professional before making lifestyle changes, especially any changes that involve medication.


How to invite positivity into your lifeHow to invite positivity into your life

Out with the old, in with the new.

We are getting a new sofa, so out comes our our old sofa and in comes the new one – with electric recliners.

You see, my old sofa, although it is functioning just as well as when it came into my life, it just isn’t serving me anymore. We have had a good run of times, we have great memories but my needs have changed, and what that sofa provides me hasn’t. I’ve grown and now, it is holding me back. It’s very presence in my life is taking up valuable real-estate that could be the home of something else. I don’t enjoy it any less, but I know there is more out their available to me. So it needs to go, to create room in my life for the electric recliner.

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This has got me thinking about the people we have in our lives; family, friends, those life long friends that are our family, the people we work with. All the people that we spend our most valuable currency on – our time – and how that is making room for growth.

I have made sacrifices to get to where I am, not just my beloved sofa. I had friends that were great fun to be with, and when I was low and needing to be physically dragged out of the house, they were exactly what I needed. They never really had my back though and when I started to put more attention into my business they put it down and, for whatever reasons they had, tried to hold me back. The first time I told them about my business was the last time I socialised with them. How they reacted that day told me so much about them as people and I no longer had any currency left to waste on them.

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I have also had friends and family who have been so excited for me and supportive of me from the start, those are the diamonds left when the sand has been filtered and (I hope) will be in my life forever.

The friends, family members that no longer serve me, no longer occupy masses of my time or thoughts. I still have to engage with some of them at family events and I still enjoy some of their company but I limit the amount of time I spend with people who don’t build me up or give me energy and motivation. The vampires in my life who leave me feeling drained or negative, are no longer major parts of my life, if they are in it at all.

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This purging, distilling, filtering of my social circle has left more room to focus on my business, room for me to forge more valuable connections with the new diamonds I have found, and more energy to look after myself. Room and space I wouldn’t have, energy and time I wouldn’t have if I still had these people in my life.

Are the people or indeed objects in your life serving you? Do they lift your spirits? As Marie Kondo would say, do they bring you joy? If not, then maybe it is time to prune back and allow room for some fresh, new growth.

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