Motivation boost

There’s a management maxim that states, ‘what gets measured, gets done.’ Our brains love to measure and compare. It works for business and it works in our personal lives too.

It’s human nature to want to improve. Knowledge is power. If you know how much you do, you’ll want to do more.

For exercise there are tools like pedometers and fitness aps that measure your activity levels. Ask anyone with a pedometer how much they walk and they’ll tell you it’s more since they got one!

I’ve been keeping training records for many years using a chart I developed when I was first selected to represent Great Britain in archery – see my book Succeed in Sport to develop your own chart. Colouring in the chart lets me see immediately the training I’ve been doing.

Succeed In Sport - Managing Sporting Performance Using Monitoring and NLP - 9781904312246

Use a measurement method that appeals to you. Gold gold star picstars are great for kids – and for adults too; a client of mine has been successfully using stars. Some people like tables of numbers. I coached a man once who drew a graph when he decided to stop smoking. His motivator was the cumulative money he saved and it went up and up! 

For eating well, how about giving yourself credit each time you snack on nuts, have a drink of water, eat some vegetables or cook unprocessed meat / fish. Be observant, catch yourself doing something right and measure only what’s good. Let your natural motivation increase it. By building up the amount of nutrient-rich natural foods you eat, bad foods will automatically get squeezed out.

S/W Ver: 85.83.E7PCelebrate and reward yourself for your progress, perhaps with a relaxing day somewhere beautiful.




Top Tip – measure what you do right


Change for Healthy Eating

How did you get on with your New Year Resolutions? It’s common for people to start January by joining gyms and going on diets only to bail out by the middle of February. Why do we set resolutions? Possibly because we fear deep down that bad eating habits and inactivity are setting us up for a miserable existence of aches, pains, ailments and early death. That’s not a cheery thought so most of the time we sweep it under the carpet. No matter how we feel, we say breezily, ‘Oh I’m fine.’ But something about the arrival of a new year enables us to look at our lives and gives us a desire to make them better.

Change isn’t easy. New Year style change – switching overnight from a life of take-aways slumped in front of the TV to daily running and plates of lettuce leaves, is almost impossible. If we make things too difficult, we set ourselves up for failure before we begin.

The change equation states that to generate enough impetus to start making a change we need three things. 1) dissatisfaction with how things are, 2) a clear vision of the future, 3) some practical first steps. As a coach, I can help you to face up to reality (number 1) and to explore what you want instead (number 2). For the practical steps (number 3), I won’t put you on a diet because diets don’t help you long term and your body needs more than lettuce!S/W Ver: 85.83.E7P

My Eat for a Better Life course includes gradual improvements. Squeeze out bad things by cramming in more good things. Each time you drink some water or have a bit of salad with your lunch, you can feel good about yourself for building better habits.

Top tip – take small steps towards eating well.

Fluoride and the EU

Whist my main concerns regarding fluoride are for people’s health, that doesn’t seem to be a high priority for those who make decisions.  Money speaks loudest.  However here comes an impact on trade that could have a powerful effect.

A recent change in European food law forbids the use of fluoridated water in food or drinnk preparation.  Water is of course used in virtually all food preparation, supply, and importation so this is causing serious concern in international marketing circles. The deadline for using unauthorised sources of minerals – including fluoride – in foods under EC Regulation 1925/2006 expired in January this year. This closed the final loophole on which proponents of water fluoridation have relied to claim that it is subject solely to food law. Public opposition to fluoridation is growing rapidly around the world, with hearings before High Courts in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland now in progress.

This will effect any businesse or individual involved in food and drink preparation or trading, from the smallest trader to the largest supermarket, anyone who sells coffees and teas in a corner cafe, bakes bread in a high-street bakery, or sells imported food and beverages in a local supermarket.

Caterers in one community in Ireland have already taken action to protect their business.  The demand by Cork County Council, the largest in the Republic of Ireland, that fluoridation be abolished in Ireland, is supported by four County and forty other Town Councils, and moves to abolish the practice have full cross-party support in the Irish Parliament. The Councils argue that fluoridation constitutes a severe barrier to export trade in Irish food products, so the passing in the UK of the Health and Social Care Act last year brings our own Local Authorities directly into the centre of this controversy. The developments in Ireland are a clear warning of the implications for the continuation of this practice here in the UK.

Enforcement of the prohibition on importing any such foods by even a single EC Member State would trigger a landslide in confidence that could cause a dramatic fall in the export of UK foods from fluoridated water areas to the rest of the EC. So the recent resumption of fluoridation in West Cumbria is a wake-up call to Members in this sector of commerce in the North West.


Cumbria Business Growth Hub Join Cumbria Food & Drink Growth Network has organised an open meeting to discuss this issue, led by UK and EU legal expert Doug Cross (BSc. CSci, CBiol, FSB) at the Sheep and Wool Centre, Cockermouth, 10am to 12 noon on 3rd April.

To book your place(s) on this free event please email or call 0845 226 0040. Cumbria Food & Drink Growth Network is part of the Cumbria Business Growth Hub aiming to help businesses in Cumbria unleash their potential. To find out how you can be involved and start benefitting, have a look online at or join them on Twitter @FoodDrinkHub.


A piece has appeared in The Lancet this month on neurotoxicants.

It considers the increase in recent years of conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia.  Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence.

They have identified 11 developmental neurotoxicants including lead, arsenic – and fluoride.  They propose a global prevention strategy.

My previous post Fluoride – not my choice invites you to join Cumbria’s petition.

Happy New Year

The lovely stats helper monkeys at WordPress have put together an annual report for the Learn to Eat Well site.763sunflower

In 2012, there were readers from 49 countries, mostly in the UK with the US and Brazil not far behind.

People were most interested in the page on Courses for Individuals and Groups.

The most popular post was the first one on 15th Jan – ‘No Quick Fix’.


It’s still true of course that there is no quick fix to looking after your health and well-being.  It’s a life long commitment to a long life!  To help inspire you, how about watching Channel 5’s50 shocking facts about diet and exercise’.  Entertaining, attention-grabbing and containing a lot of very sound information, I really enjoyed it.

Have a great year.

Wishing you well



Eyes Right

Your eyes are a window onto the beautiful world we live in. They’re incredible and worth looking after.File:Gray eyes.jpg

 (Pic – Wikipedia commons)

You’ve probably heard that in WWII, as a cover-up for our use of radar, the British military spread the story that our pilots could see in the dark because they ate carrots. Perhaps the story was effective because it there was a grain of truth in it. Carrots contain beta-carotene which your body converts into Vitamin A, which is good for your eyes.


Vitamins, minerals, enzymes contribute to the health of your eyes as well as your body generally. Processed foods often contain low levels of these micro-nutrients. You’ll get almost everything you need by eating a range of fresh meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Your eyes benefit from fat-soluble antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin which you can get from eggs and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and spring cabbage and from yellow and orange fruits and veg – carrots feature again. Blackcurrants, blueberries and the amazing bilberries (we’re lucky – they grow round here) and other red and purple fruits contain water-soluble antioxidants and are great for your eyes.


Your eyes are mostly made of water so stay well hydrated. Instead of having tea, coffee, alcohol or fizzy pop, drink some plain water.


Exercise is good for our bodies and for our eyes too. They enjoy looking around and having a rest sometimes. Computers, TV and video games make us stare at one place at one distance for long periods of time. This unnatural practice can lead to eye-strain so take a break!

Top tip – Even your eyes benefit when you eat well.

You can read this in The Cockermouth Post along with lots of other interesting articles.

No Quick Fix

In the December issue of The Cockermouth Post, you can read my piece (on page 24) about lasting results through building better habits.  Here it is:

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is a habit.”


In this day and age we’re used to things happening fast. We can access information instantly on our ‘phones. We can buy things at the click of a button. We’re no longer used to having to invest time; when we want something, we want it yesterday.


Diets offer quick change but in the majority of cases the change is quickly reversed. People can spend years on the treadmill of yo-yo dieting, losing and regaining weight in a miserable cycle of feast and famine that damages their metabolism.


The way to lasting results is to build better habits. Eat a bit of salad with your lunch, reduce how often you indulge in sugary things (biscuits, chocolate, chewy bars), cut out vegetable oil, drink some water.


I recently had the pleasure of speaking to some regular Cockermouth Post readers of who had altered their eating habits as a result of my column. At first they didn’t notice much but as time went on, Helen realised that her body shape had improved. Mike, an asthma sufferer, found that he needed his inhaler less frequently and now, instead of several times a day, he uses it only rarely.


Proving me wrong, Karen who is on the current group course, made one simple change and literally overnight felt better than she had for 30 years! That’s how powerful the effects can be from the things you eat and drink.


So I don’t promise a quick fix. Healthy eating isn’t a magic bullet, it’s a better lifestyle.


Top tip – good eating habits are for life, not just for Christmas!

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.

Sexy Summer Body

The summer is almost upon us (well hopefully soon) and many of you will be taking some time out to go on holiday and relax in the sun. This is the time of year when we suddenly remember that our bodies are important. As we strip off, we realise that everyone can see us!

This is a shared Survival Guide for the Skint and Nutrition Coaching blog post.  I’m passionate about food and health. The great news is that you can save money in your quest for a great bod.

Processed food is laden with additives and chemicals that your body has to work very hard to get rid of (or to store as fat). You pay mainly for all the preparation, packaging and advertising so the ingredients are rarely good quality. Buy real food and make your own meals to save money and improve your health.

Drinks can add up to a sizable percentage of your weekly shop. Fizzy drinks and alcohol cost loads and only do you harm. Fruit juices are better if taken in moderation. I like to dilute juices. The cheapest drink of all is water and the good news is that your body enjoys water much more than anything else. It’s even better if you filter it; jug filters work fine and are inexpensive.

The cheapest exercise is walking – guess what? Yes, it really is great for your body. It’s low impact so it’s kind to your joints. You can go when you want, for as long as you want and you put in the amount of effort to match your ability. Getting fresh air and sunshine is good for your lungs and skin. Good mental health goes hand in hand with good physical health. Being close to nature is good for you mentally (there are studies proving it’s good for you to be among trees). Walking is a pleasurable experience too. I’ve noticed that runners often look harassed or miserable but people on walks smile and say, ‘hello’.  You’re more likely to exercise if you find something that you really enjoy.

So eat, drink and exercise merrily, 

for tomorrow you don your swimwear!

Wishing you well