An Interview with Alex

I am loving the feedback I am getting through instagram and facebook. What a supportive community, you guys are so awesome! I’ve also started receiving messages asking what I’m doing differently, what changes I’ve made, what I'm eating and how I’m losing the weight.  Although the weight is coming off quickly, there are no quick fixes here this time around. I am not interested in programs, plans, diets and things that are not sustainable FOR ME.  I emphasize ‘for me’ as I think it’s really important to recognize that different things work for different people.  I know people who have had huge successes doing programs that I have failed at, so I know they just weren’t for me, and that's OK.

I’m freely giving my advice for what is working for me, and I find it hugely helpful to write about it and share my successes, but I’m no expert. Not by a long shot.  If you read my blog post called ‘The Switch’, you will know there has been a very important person who has played a huge part in my change in mindset. It was the right person, at the right time, when I was feeling at my lowest and most receptive to help.  His name is Alex.  If you haven't read that post, I suggest you do before reading this one.
From the number of messages I have been receiving from people in the same situation (stuck in a rut), it's clear to me there are so many of us on this journey, and we could all use a little Alex help.

I decided to ask Alex if he would answer a few questions about this process, in hopes that his answers can help you as much as he’s been able to help me.

Alex, first of all, tell us what you do!

First and foremost I'm a dad and husband :)
My profession is a health and fitness coach.

I help a wide range of people set and achieve their personal goals - my clients include kids, mums, dads, grans and grandfathers... right through to world champion professional athletes.

I know the subject is complex, but if you could give only 3 pieces of advice to someone wanting to make a big change in their life, what would they be?

  1. Get to the very bottom of if and why making the change is important to them.
    This is crucial. For many of us we 'like' the idea of changing but when it comes down to doing the hard yards, simply liking the idea of change won't cut it.
    We have to find a very personal burning desire and a true real reason to change... "find your WHY"Without a reason that's close to your heart, success is unlikely.

    When the going gets tough, simply relying on will power won't cut it. We must be able to draw on the strength of your WHY.

  2. Come to terms with your weaknesses and failings and be at peace with them. They are the things that have held you back in the past and they will continue to do so if you don't deal with them in the future.It's ok to have faults and less than perfect behaviours.Acknowledging them, understanding them, talking about them with other people who care about you are all major parts of moving past these.When these weaknesses reoccur from time to time..  (and trust me they will) DONT beat yourself up about it. Acknowledge that behaviour or action occurred and then just work on finding a better replacement healthy behaviour that you will enjoy just as much.
  3. Practise mindfulness. We are all creatures of habit and long term behaviour change is very difficult.One of the major things we must do is start to listen to our inner voice and understand our own feelings and behaviours. Doing this willAllow us to better understand why we make the choices that we make. Then it becomes possible to foresee situations before they arise.Foresight allows us time to formulate ways to deal to behaviours and habits, before they happen. Being a victim to circumstance is a sure fire way to fail.

What are some common mistakes that people make when trying to change their lifestyle?

  1. Following unrealistic programs. Anything which is too drastic, hard core, too time consuming or restrictive will never be sustainable long term and is therefore pointless in starting in the first place.
  2. Trying to change too much at once - we must take small steps. Focus on mastering just one simple thing and then layering other small steps one by one on top. Behavioural Research shows that this is a far more successful long term approach.
  3. Not asking themselves the question "can I see myself doing this in 1, 5, 10 years time?"

Change must be lifestyle based. If you honestly don't see yourself continuing long-term with the approach you have adopted, you will likely eventually end up back where you started.

Moral of the story... if you don't enjoy it... it won't last.

How important is exercise?

Exercise is a very individual one. Nutrition is definitely 85-90% of the puzzle, but the correct type of exercise added to a great nutrition plan will certainly help to speed things up and get you looking your best.

Long term, exercise is great for your cardiovascular health and can help to

Delay the aging process, so I definitely recommend adopting some vigorous exercise 3-4 times per week for 20-40mins.

The biggest effect of exercise is its long term contribution to keeping weight off.

A weekly schedule including some smart, short but intense full body heavy weight training sessions topped up with some time outside - brisk walking a few times per week are a great place to start :)