Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia: dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth. 
Baz Luhrmann 
As I come towards the end of my second decade as a professional in health and fitness and begin my fourth decade of deep appreciation for movement, fun, challenging myself and testing my body in imaginative ways, I have accumulated many lessons from experience, learning on the job, mistakes I’ve made and hard study. 
In this week’s article I’ve put together a short collection of my own collected wisdom so that you may level up your own Ninja skills. 
On Mind, emotions, and head stuff 
1. Nobody needs a reason to feel depressed, it’s possible to have all that you want, and still feel utterly miserable, it doesn’t need justification. 
2. If the above is true, the reverse may be also, we do not need a reason to feel happy. We can take a moment, and just feel joy, for absolutely no reason at all. 
3. A life lived without having experienced the full roulette of emotions has been poorly used. It may not always feel like it at the time, but being deep in sadness and grief, overwhelmed and taken over by anger, under the spell of love, having your heart broken, feeling the sharp pangs of regret, the heighted state of fear or the nervous tension of anticipation, are all worthwhile experiences which enrich our lives and provide deeper meaning and a more mature outlook to reflect on. 
4. Quite often you won’t be motivated to exercise, or go for a walk, or eat a healthy choice, in fact you’ll be more motivated to sit down and watch a movie and eat a McMassive meal, as is our basic instinct of conserving energy and stocking up on calories. 
But you will always be glad that you did do those things, you feel better after working out and after making better health choices, not before. You may also regret the times you didn’t work out and didn’t make healthy choices but dwelling on that is as pointless as denying you attended multiple covid rule breaking parties. 
5. Learn to mediate, if even a little, it’s a tool that most of us are completely unaware of and when you grasp the basics of it you develop a kind of superpower. By learning to observe your constant runaway mind you can step back and become uninvolved in the emotions that might cause you to become an unbearable person to be around, this in turn can improve your relationships with family and friends. I recommend Mindfulness for beginners by Jon Kabat Zinn and the Waking up App with Sam Harris. 
6. Balance is an illusion, at any one time your either working hard on yourself, your work or your relationships with family and friends, achieving balance in all these areas at the same time is to perform average in all these areas at the same time. 
7. My whiteboard quote this week “he who is not contented with what he has, is unlikely to be contented with what he would like to have” by Socrates speak to the truth of the Hedonic treadmill and our constant search for the next thing, “I’ll be happy when…I’ve lost x amount of weight, I earn x, I have got x out of the way”. 
We can step of this treadmill by imagining losing everything we have, a fire that takes our home, the breakup of our marriage or losing our job that helps us pay the bills, at that point, we would want more than anything to have the current situation we have now. 
8. For many things in life, we need to learn cognitive dissonance, the ability to hold two completely opposing ideas in our minds at the same time and know them both to be true, whilst remaining sane. For example, the above info regarding Socrates quote, whilst true, does not mean we can’t still aim to improve and hope to have more whilst simultaneously being appreciative of what we have. 
9. One of the best things we can do to improve our sense of mental wellbeing is to get out in nature, ideally without phones, as often as possible, with or without loved ones. 
10. Community is essential for health and wellbeing, we live in an age of enforced introversion, we barely know our neighbours, and the few interactions we make tend to be polite acknowledgements to shop staff or sarcastic comments on social media. We rarely speak to another person about our opinions, concerns or the things which make us happy. 
Plenty of research shows that those with a good community have improved mental wellbeing, fewer heart attacks, longer lives and most importantly, are generally happier. 
On Nutrition 
1. You can go low carb, you can go low fat, but no healthy diet should be low in protein. Not only does this sexy little macronutrient repair muscles, skin, hair and organs, it helps fill you up and makes it easier to lose weight and gain muscle. How much you need depends on your weight, goal and activity level. Anywhere from one to two grams per kilogram is ideal. Protein quality is another issue which I’ll address in a future article. 
2. There are only a few things essential in your diet, protein, Omega 3, vitamins, and minerals, you can have a mostly junk food diet and still get all these things, but not to anything like an optimal level. 
3. The best diet is one you’ll stick to, low carb, low fat, calorie counting, fasting, are all valid methods with various pros and cons, essentially, they all help lower calories. 
4. Understand that weight loss is finding a way to lower calories, not because food is “clean” or any food group is bad, or because your blood type or genetics suit certain types of eating. 
5. Some people struggle to lose weight much more than others, it sucks, life is unfair. 
6. Those same people can still lose weight through eating less and moving more, it just doesn’t happen as quick, and it can be a much tougher challenge psychologically. 
7. As a very fast and easy rule, the nicer a food taste, the more likely you are to eat too much of it, it’s great that we can make healthy food taste nice, but there is something to be said for bland foods. 
8. My go to healthy meals that are cheap and can be made quickly… 
Omelette (with any veg I happen to have in) 
Stir fry (meat, veg, soy sauce, sizzle in the pan, ten mins done) 
Tuna and butterbean salad 
Oats with berries and protein powder 
Grilled chicken breast in wholemeal pitta 
Mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and cous cous 
9. For some people with a deficiency taking a supplement can be as different as day and night in terms of the impact it has on wellbeing, for many others it might not even be noticeable, but may well still be doing some good. 
Supplements can often take a long time to have an effect, creatine isn’t fully loaded into the system for two weeks, fish oil or vitamin D might take a couple of months, it’s quite understandable that people won’t be consistent in taking these things whilst there is often no noticeable improvements in their health and wellbeing. 
My current go to supplements are.. 
Whey protein (arguably not a supplement but a food) 
Creatine for strength, power and mental clarity 
Fish oil for reducing inflammation, especially for those who exerice, are recovering from injury or feeling the effects of aging. 
Vitamin D for strong bones, enhanced immunity, recovery, strength, mental wellbeing. It’s hard to get enough from food and we’re unlikely getting enough from sunlight, especially in winter. 
Pro-biotics for a healthy gut. 
Cherry juice for recovery and sleep 
Beetroot juice for improved endurance. 
There are a few more I sometimes suggest for certain conditions such as IBS or PCOS or for certain training goals such as muscle gain, strength gain, weight loss etc. 
10. Be hungry now and then, not only is it a good opportunity for your stomach to carry out some repair work, it also helps build mental resilience. Hunger tends to come in waves, much like cravings, you’re hungry, then you’re not. 
Use hunger to help you appreciate food more, to help you develop a love and appreciation of the work that goes into the calories you consume. 
On Exercise 
1. For every five exercise sessions, you’ll have one session where you nail it, smash out the reps, increase the weight, run faster etc. You’ll have one session where you tank on everything compared to normal. The other three sessions will be average. Often there is no rhyme or reason for this, you can sleep well, bad, eat healthy, unhealthy etc, and the sessions can go well or terrible. 
2. Noakes central governor theory tells you most of what you need to know regarding progress. In short, your brain will not allow you to do anything unless its confident in doing so. Gaining that confidence takes gradual acquaintance and patience. You can’t push yourself hard, or even perform the most basic of movements your body is capable of, if fear is holding you back. 
3. Exercise success is determined by effort, going through the motions is OK at the start when learning movements, but eventually it will lead to stagnation and wasted time at the gym, people can go years with zero results because they haven’t figured this out yet. 
4. Exercise effort equals pain, muscles become sore during and after, there is no escaping it, however running from it won’t help either. Embrace the pain, each straining contraction is leading you closer to results. Every rep makes you more awesome. 
5. You don’t need to push it every session, how hard and how often you push it depends on experience and age. Young bloods can destroy themselves in the gym and then go out drinking all night to do the same thing next day. The older you become the wiser it is to make tough sessions just twenty percent of your workouts. It also becomes more important to workout often, as gains seem to disappear more quickly. 
6. With the above rule in mind a four-week program would look like this 
Week one = acquaintance with the exercise 
Week two= see how much progress can be made on weights, reps and sets. 
Week three= step things up a gear 
Week four= Summon your personal Thanos, destroyer of all things Iron. Challenge yourself to see how much you can take, crawl out the gym, recover and grow. 
7. You can progress a workout by adding more weights, more reps, less recovery time, doing a more advanced version of the exercise, or even just learning better technique and improving the range of movement and getting the right muscles to kick in at the right time. 
8. Weekly Frequency beats weekly time trained, for example one ninety-minute session would be much less effective than three thirty-minute sessions per week, this is because of the time it takes for your body to recover from training, and then within a few days start to regress and lose that benefit. 
9. In terms of frequency per week of workouts, one session per week is fine for anyone who just wants to be a little more active and maintain some basic fitness, twice a week is more ideal, three times is probably more optimal for the general public and four times a week is ideal. 
10. If your injured and you know it’s bad, see a physio straight away, if you’re not sure if it’s bad, then wait for three days, if it hasn’t improved at all past the first phase of inflammation, then go see a physio. I’ve made this mistake and seen too many others make it too. 
The initial injury might see you have to rest from training for a few weeks, the resulting amplified injury from training when you shouldn’t have might see you having to rest from training for a few months or suffering with permanent damage. See a physio, and by the way, a massage therapist isn’t a physio, as much respect as I have for those people. 
If you live in Hull I recommend Dan Ramsden, I’ve worked with several physios over the years, and he’s the best I’ve met. 
Before you go… 
There are so many other things I’d like to mention in these articles, I’ve barely touched on the above, so I hope it’s enough for now, if you’d like me to write more of these kinds of articles then get in touch with your favourite Personal Trainer Hull and I’ll whip out my keyboard and get to work on the next lot. 
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