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The first time i beat ten boats in the nationals!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Stress Less!

There is more than one reason to take it easy on occasion. Hormones play a massive role in your ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Acute (short term and high intensity) stress will lower your appetite, increase your metabolism, and increase your cognitive function. Chronic (longer term and moderate intensity) stress will cause you to store fat easily, disrupt your sleep, and impair your cognitive function.

The main hormone responsible for both responses to stress is cortisol.

In small doses, cortisol will trigger short bursts of energy, increase memory function, and increase immunity.

In long, sustained doses, cortisol can impair brain function, suppress the thyroid (which regulates metabolism), disrupt blood sugar balance, decrease bone density and muscle tissue. This usually leads to a simultaneous increase in abdominal fat, which increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Studies also show that people with high cortisol levels eat more, and more of what they eat is carbohydrate. This will also increase their fat-storing ability.

It is possible to manipulate your cortisol levels increase your well-being, weight loss, and longevity.

10 Top Tips for Keeping Cortisol in Balance:
1.        Stress less! Learn stress management techniques. See for more information and tools.
2.        Meditation - Holosync CD’s use sound tones to assist you in achieving a greater meditative state than experienced practitioners achieve. Go to and get your free trial CD.
3.        Sex.
4.        Yoga.
5.        Deep  breathing techniques.
6.        Keep exercise sessions short, infrequent, and very hard - less than 25 minutes is ideal, with your heart rate regularly pushing over 85% of your max (you do not  have to sustain it over there. Stop-start techniques such as intervals are useful). Galileo Personal Training at Brookvale specialise in 30 minute sessions. Go to for more information.
7.        Exercise only when you’re healthy (REST when you’re sick or tired!!)
8.        Make exercise fun! Get outside and do something you enjoy!
9.        Take time to stretch or unwind after any exercise session, major deadline, or stressful event. Simply lying still (with a quiet mind) for a couple of minutes is enough to reduce your cortisol.
10.     Vibrate your hormones into balance! Studies show that vibration training can reduce your cortisol levels after only a 11 minute stretch and massage session. You try this for free at or buy one for yourself at . Sessions performed on the vibration plate also increase the release of Serotonin, the “happy” hormone.

You can manipulate your hormones by your state of mind and behaviour. Take control, and give yourself the best chance of success.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: understanding these principles from a health perspective to ensure you get the most out of your life.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
This chapter deals with focusing on specific things that you‘d like to achieve. Training your brain using visualisation has long been a habit of world-class athletes. They visualise and mentally rehearse every aspect of their sport, from the perfect finger position to standing on the podium after the race. The same principle can be used in business and in optimum health.

The revolutionary approach to weight loss by Jon Gabriel in The Gabriel Method relies heavily meditation and visualisation to re-train the brain. These methods can help reduce hormones that cause your body to hold onto excess fat, as well as boost “happy” hormones that can assist in motivation.

The use of a mission statement is highly utilised in business, and can be effective for you in your health journey to help you stay focused on the big picture.
Put First Things First: Principles of Integrity & Execution

Think Win/Win: Principles of Mutual Benefit

In the book, this chapter is about communication with others, however the same principles can be applied to balance your needs with other conflicting parts of your life. A common example is exercise time and work demands often get in each other’s way. Or the conflict your fitness needs and your family’s needs to have you around. Thinking “win/win” will help you achieve a plan to accommodate both.

Using our first example, finding time. We can utilise the first three habits. The first is be proactive, so find out the minimum amount of exercise you need to do for optimum health (10min x 3 per day x 3 days a week) and then plan it, visualise it, execute it, and prioritise it!

The second example can be win/win by including your family in your activity. For example, throwing a football with your son, going walking with your partner, and so on.

Thinking win/win will open a multitude of alternatives, where you can integrate all competing aspects of your life into one well-balanced and happy existence.

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Principles of Mutual Understanding

While this habit strikes gold from a HR and management perspective, utilising it for your fitness needs is not as clear at first. For the purposes of our discussion today, seek to understand the how, what, when, and why of health before sabotaging yourself with excuses about why not to be healthy.

The most obvious way to seek understanding is to enlist in professional help. Health is not just about weight loss. Regular meetings with a dietician can help you maximise your nutrition and wellbeing, thus maximising your productivity at work and increase positive energy at home. Regularly seeing a personal trainer can provide time efficient and highly effective results. Half hour sessions are available at Galileo Personal Training in Brookvale, see

Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation
This is a fantastic chapter that will help you utilise your friends, collegues, and family in assisting you all as a collective to achieve optimum health. In striving to achieve a healthier lifestyle, you can recruit the entire office, and work collaboratively to formulate ideas in making it possible for everyone. Studies show that exercising with a friend ensures greater adherence than if you go it alone. One idea is to cover each other’s tasks while each person takes a brisk walk, or to sign up for a corporate sports team. Lunchtime Legends, held in French’s Forest, runs mixed soccer, oztag, netball, softball, and volleyball competitions in 30min lunchtime slots. See for more information.

Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal
An article published in March 2006’s Harvard Business Review explored the concept of “Cognitive Fitness” and found that exercising the mind can help productivity, intelligence, and slow degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. In short, moderate exercise can keep you mentally quicker and smarter for longer.

Covey touched on these concepts in his final chapter, but the latest neuroscience findings have allowed us to put it more succinctly. As summarised in November 2007‘s Harvard Business Review, you can consistently renew yourself by: seeking new experiences (go “walkabout“), work hard at playing (this encompasses games like cards, as well as trying on new ways of interacting with others, playing with kids, and so on), seeking novelty (like going to a museum, sight-seeing on a business trip, taking a different route home), trying new things (eg. new technologies, learn an instrument or language), searching for patterns (within these experiences, take notes every time you hear of something new and use it as a reference), and exercise.

View the entire article at . for more information.

By listening to your chosen health professional’s advice, and then tailoring this advice in your personal circumstances, you will achieve more than presuming to understand everything about your lifestyle, body, and health. Covey’s communication methods will enhance workplace and family relations as well.

Prioritising and delegating are important ways of maximising your time. Once you have developed your mission statement, formulate a plan to work towards it. Considering moderate exercise can help your cognitive function and increase your life expectancy, it is astounding that more Australians do not put their health as a priority, especially as we are now the most obese country in the world.

Reasons for prioritising your health includes reducing the obvious health risk to ourselves - such as diabetes and heart disease - which may prevent us from performing our perceived “more important” roles in our work and as a family member (just being overweight can increase your risk of premature death by 30%, similar to the risk associated with smoking 1-10 cigarettes a day*).

In addition, obesity is costing us as a nation, in dollar terms. Costs are associated with managing obesity-related diseases, secondary diseases, health insurance rates, sick leave, and also time away from work while sick, emergency services responding to events such as heart attacks, etc. This list is enormous.

Using Covey’s methods you can identify your real priorities, and allocate your time and effort accordingly.

However, what of the broader applications of these principles? How can we utilise this simple and effective life plan to maximise our effectiveness in all aspects of life? Today we will look at applying the seven habits to maximising your health.
Applying business principles to health is an excellent way of managing time and ensuring you get the most out of this life. Remember that health is not about weight loss. Rather, it is a way of optimising your productivity and relevance in the office and at home. It will mean you have the energy to interact with your family for years to come, and that you experience personal satisfaction and wellbeing. Take the time to ensure that your life is lived!
has been on the “must read” list of ambitious people since first released in 1989. A self-help book with benefits across all facets of life, it has been primarily utilised in the business arena, with spin off publications addressing leadership, family life, and wealth.
Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Choice

Proactiveness is also about accountability and responsibility, “if it‘s meant to be it‘s up to me”. It is time to stop blaming time, the weather, transport, and all those other things that prevent you from embarking on a healthy fitness and eating plan. Focus instead on what you can do (or fit in). Can you manage 10min in the morning for a brisk walk around the block? If yes, then take action! Or maybe you don’t like walking, but can you swim? Cycle? Run?

Covey argues that people are different from animals as they are able to observe themselves, think about their thoughts and actions. In this way, address your own objections to exercise or eating well. Health is not about being a “gym junkie”. You can achieve substantial health benefits from adding certain foods to your current diet (such as fruit and vegetables) and from just doing what you can in terms of exercise. has useful guidelines to give you a kick-start.

Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Vision