Happy Days

Someone commented recently on how upbeat people have been this summer compared to last. If you think back a year it’s true that the general mood of the country is more positive now and it’s not the weather! He thought it might be partly due to the news being dominated by the Queen’s diamond jubilee, the Olympics and most recently, the Paralympics. We’ve been filled with expectancy, given stories of hope, seen excellence in many forms and people succeeding against the odds. Suddenly we believe that things are possible. Usually the news is full of doom and gloom. Learning about terrible events we cannot control or improve drags us down. Doctors sometimes even prescribe a ‘news-fast’ for people with depression.

Our bodies are one big chemical soup and our mood is powerfully influenced by hormones which act as biological control signals. What you eat affects the levels of various hormones and therefore your mood. Some people who’ve been on my courses have found that as well as physical benefits, they feel much happier once they start eating what they need.

Omega fats are important. Too much omega 6 and too little omega 3 (as has been found in the fat profiles of prison populations) can change mood and behaviour. So ditch the deep fried food and eat more fish if you want to feel cheerful.

Top tips: Limit your exposure to bad news and balance your omega fats.

You can also read this piece and lots of other interesting things in The Cockermouth Post.

The Cumbria Coaching Network also celebrated happiness this week with a brilliant one day conference on Coaching for Happiness with Henry Stewart as the headline speaker.

Laughing is very good for your health and our very own laughter coach Keith Adams got us doing some very silly things as you can see…

Eat for better sport

Most of the advice we get about what to eat is either well-meaning ‘one-size-fits-all’ generalities or advertising aiming to make us buy products.  As an international archer I received advice some years ago from a nutritionist that came under the first category.  Unfortunately eating in the way that is currently fashionable as healthy was not right for my body chemistry and I ended up overweight with a whole load of other problems.

I’ve just won the British Field Archery Championships for the 6th time.  At the age of 47 and with a 7 year gap since my last British title, I’m delighted.

(Picture courtesy of The Whitehaven News)

My good shooting this year (including a lifetime best score indoors) is the result of a combination of factors.  Using my record charts (described in my book Succeed in Sport, train-learn-adapt-improve), I made a change to my weight training pattern.  I also reviewed my performance profile, prioritised and following a great day with Lanny Bassham at Bisley, made some tweaks to my mental approach . And I benefitted from a reduction of work related stress.

I believe that eating right was another key factor.  Field archery competitions last for two whole days.  Many foods loved by sports people (chewy bars and artificial drinks) provide a swift energy hit followed by slumps, hunger, headaches, mood changes and weight gain.  Other foods (like sandwiches) take a lot of energy to process and leave you sluggish in the afternoon.  I wanted food that would digest itself and give me the nutrients I wanted to keep going steadily for many hours.

Among other things, I take fresh coconut, cheese and the magical sprouted beans and seeds.  They’re cheap, easy to grow and bursting with goodness.  Anyone who has been to one of my talks will know how much I love live food and the enzymes they contain.  Foods like this have a high water content; wet food is better at keeping you hydrated than dry food plus drinks.

You might have been put off by the recent E coli outbreak in Europe which was suggested (although not confirmed) to have come from fenugreek, mustard and rocket seeds from Egypt sold via a British company.  The company believes the infection is more likely to be due to how the seeds were used and handled than the seeds themselves.  Here, the Food Standards Agency, as a precaution, is recommending that sprouted seeds are eaten cooked rather than raw. That would kill all the enzymes that you grew them for in the first place.  I leave you to make up your own mind but if you do grow some, make sure you always wash your trays properly between batches so you don’t end up with bacterial contamination.