Positive Emotions.

During my coaching training we completed modules on positive psychology. Standard psychology = broken people need fixing. Positive psychology = focusing on the positive aspects of human life and how to enhance them. The world definitely has a need for both but 2020 has highlighted to me so far that there is a special need for positive psychology in the general population at the moment. So far this year has been scary to say the least, a lot has happened, a lot IS happening and it is easy to get sucked into a downward spiral of worry and fear. 

Broaden and build theory suggests that emotions are very functional. Where negative emotions serve a purpose by limiting our thoughts and behaviours allowing us to act more decidedly in times of stress, positive emotions broaden and build our conscious awareness. When you are in a bad mood, you are very closed off & stuck in negative thought patterns. When you are in a good mood you are more curious, sociable, creative & healthier. You become better at problem solving and are able to persevere longer at tougher tasks. More importantly right now, your immune system works better!

On a personal level, we should be looking to nourish and increase positive emotions in order to get the above benefits, but also on a company level. For any business, big or small, i fully believe in the importance of looking after the mental health and overall well-being of your employees. In coaching we look at each person as a whole. We understand that in order to feel satisfied, fulfilled and happy, one must have balance in key areas of their life. If one of your team members is not performing well, instead of focusing on their current lack of achievement, have you thought about the possibility of something outside of work that might be affecting their performance? If they feel unfulfilled in life, the negative feelings and thoughts will seep through in to their work life. If they are having trouble at home, or if they are having health issues, the same thing will happen. When our lives feel balanced and fulfilled, we can increase positive emotions and in turn improve our lives even more creating an upward spiral.

A meta analysis study by Lyubomirsky, King & Diener in 2005 on positive emotions shows that positive emotions have the following results within a company – 

  • Lower turnover at work.
  • Better reports of customer service.
  • Better supervision evaluations.
  • Lower emotional exhaustion.
  • Higher job satisfaction.
  • Better organisational citizenship behaviour.
  • Fewer work absences.
  • More social club involvement.
  • More volunteerism.
  • Perceived by others as being friendlier more assertive and more confident,
  • Higher annual salaries,
  • Higher longevity.
  • Lower incidence of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Faster recovery from illness or injury.
  • More likely to resolve conflict through collaboration.
  • Increased motivation.
  • Better decision making efficiency.

I have just provided you 17 good reasons to work on interventions to help increase positive emotions in yourself and in your employees.

Business hats to one side though, couldn’t we all use a little more of this? I know my anxiety has started to creep up on me the past few weeks and with the current COVID-19 pandemic i know i can’t be the only one. From the fires across Australia devastating the native wildlife, to multiple deaths & tragedies, now countries going in to lock down due to the coronavirus, what a year so far. I think of myself as a very positive and open minded person and i tend not to get worried or sucked in to things that we have no control over, but even so i can’t help but feel overwhelmed at how the year has started. 

So this post is just as much for me as it is for you. Whether you apply this just to yourself, or if you are in a position where you can apply this to your company and employees, let’s look at some interventions to increase positivity and get ourselves into that upwards spiral.

We’ve all heard of ‘name 3 things your grateful for’, right? I want to take it a step further. 

Although studies show that naming 3 things your grateful for each day does in fact increase positivity, they also show that people tend not to stick to the practice after the study has ended. It just doesn’t feel worthwhile enough for people to continue long term. In coaching, we focus on creating long lasting habits so i’m going to suggest gratitude to you, but in a slightly different format. 

At the end of each day, instead of naming 3 things your grateful for, i want you to think about it in a bit more detail. Keep a journal of this and ask yourself questions that focus on the positives such as – 

  • Who supported me today?
  • What were today’s successes?
  • What did i do well today?
  • What did others do well today?
  • What was the highlight of my day?

Keep this up for at least 1 month, it should only take a few minutes each night, you will be surprised at how much you notice. Make sure to leave your journal somewhere you will see it each night so that you don’t forget. It might also be helpful to think of a trigger such as brushing your teeth before bed or getting changed in to your PJ’s, so you know when i get changed in to my PJ’s each night i will take a few minutes to write my journal. This is a great way to integrate it into your routine and form a new habit. 

If you are in a business environment, you could also do this as a team at the end of each work day. Ask your team to reflect on these questions and write them down, either individually or as a group. 

This is such a small step and will only take a few minutes each day, you have read the amazing effects of increasing positive emotions, we could all use a little boost right now i’m sure, so let’s all do this together. Let’s start today!

 

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References – 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/positive-psychology

Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching – Robert Biswas-Diener.

 

 

Recommended Podcasts.

Since I started video logging throughout the day I have been mentioning what podcasts I have been listening to and have had so many people messaging me directly to ask what podcasts I would recommend so I thought I would write a post with my favourite podcasts.

I listen to podcasts all day every day, when i’m getting ready, while i’m travelling to and from work, when i’m in the gym, when i’m writing for my blog, when i’m cleaning, basically as much as I possibly can. I think podcasts are such a great way to get new information, I love to be always learning about new things, always hearing different opinions, always expanding my knowledge on any subjects that interest me. Sometimes in today’s busy life it can be hard to sit down and read endless books on subjects that interest you but with podcasts you can listen to up to date discussions from experts in the industry while you go about your day to day business. This is why I love to listen to fitness and nutrition based podcasts to gain as much knowledge as possible. Of course it can’t always be learning all the time we’ve got to have that bit of laughter to, which is why I also have a few podcasts from comedians which I regularly listen to just for those real big belly laughs.

Here are a list of my favourite podcasts at the moment. I’m always chopping and changing what I listen to and these ones below are in no particular order, these are just the podcasts that I am currently listening to at the moment. There’s a good mixture in there so I’m sure there will be something for everyone!  Also if anybody has any podcast suggestions for me I am all ears I’d love to find some new ones so drop me a message if you know of any you think I might benefit from.

  1. Joe Rogan Experience – Definitely my favourite podcast at the moment, mainly because he has such a wide variety of different guests on the show and it is so regular that there is always something new and interesting to listen to. He always has guests on talking in depth about different areas of fitness and nutrition, psychedelics, spirituality, sports and so much more.
  2. Found My Fitness, Dr Rhonda Patrick – Nutrition and how it affects our health is one of my biggest interests. Dr Rhonda Patrick lays down the facts on her podcast with the ins and outs of nutrition and how it affects our health, diseases, cancer, ageing, basically how nutrition is the key to everything. She also talks a lot about different supplements/products/fasting techniques/fads etc to give the low down on each one and her educated opinion on them.
  3. Danny Lennon, Sigma Nutrition – All things fitness related, training and nutrition wise. Danny Lennon has guests who discuss at length different topics in relation to fat loss, physique athletes, competitive cutting, cutting for women, fat loss plateaus and so much more. For anyone interested in fitness and more specifically bodybuilding this is a great one to listen to.
  4. The Ricky Gervais Show – Now this one is purely for the laughs. We’ve all heard of Karl Pilkington An Idiot Abroad, right? Well rewind to how Ricky & Steve met Karl Pilkington was when Karl was producing their radio show XFM. They thought he was that hilarious that they decided to start a podcast just the 3 of them, that’s when The Ricky Gervais Show was born. No matter how many times I have listened to every single one of these I still laugh my head off so much every time, it never gets old.
  5. Duncan Trussell Family Hour – A mixture between the most fascinating of topics and rambles of randomness. Duncan is such a fascinating guy and he always talks about deeply spiritual subjects. His views on psychedelics, virtual reality and different dimensions are just a few of the reasons I love to listen to his podcast, also for the laughs of course.
  6. Skeptic Tank, Ari Shaffir – Ari is a regular guest on The Joe Rogan Experience which is how I got listening to his podcast. Such an interesting character and a little ‘out there’ as well as a good joker his podcast is always a good listen.
  7. The Church of Whats Happening Now, Joey Diaz – Another regular on The Joe Rogan Experience, Joey Diaz is absolutely hilarious and man has he lived a crazy life! Any and all of his stories have me rolling on the floor laughing, mostly just because of the animated and fiery way in which he tells them. Always a good listen and it always has me in knots laughing, listen to one podcast and you will see exactly what I mean by his story telling.
  8. The True Geordie Podcast – The main reason I listen to this podcast is because hearing a Geordie accent just gives me that familiar ‘home’ comfort feeling. But the guys on this podcast always cover up to date and interesting topics and of course the magpies regularly crop up and football in general, Geordies through and through.

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New Beginnings.

As most of you will know by now i recently handed my notice in at my job of 2.5 years.

I’ve had a great time there but over this past year i’ve been feeling kind of stuck. I felt a long time ago that i had gotten everything i could from this job, there was nothing more that i could do here, no new skills to learn, no room to progress and grow. It started making me feel really bored and unhappy, so i finally bit the bullet and started applying for new jobs.

Luckily something fell right into my lap and very quickly i got an amazing new job offer. I’m so excited to start this new chapter in my life and this new job is exactly what i was praying for. Last year was very tough for me, a lot of ups and downs but i somehow managed to power through and this year things are looking so much better.

Last year there were a lot of days where i struggled to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, a lot of days where i was afraid to talk to anybody and i was afraid that things would never get better. Around me everybody would have thought i was the happiest person ever but that’s just because i was afraid to tell anyone what was going on in my head in case they told me i was crazy. The best decision i ever made was to confide in a friend and to get help. Its been a long road so far and i’m not naive enough to think that my troubles are behind me, anybody who has suffered with mental health will know its an uphill battle where you get knocked back down again and again.

So far in 2017 i feel like one good thing has been happening after another, it feels almost to good to be true. My blog has been doing amazing, my training is going really well, i’ve had a few photo shoots, and most of all i feel happy again. Unfortunately with anxiety there’s always that little voice in my head telling me this won’t last, something will go wrong. What i’ve came to realize is that that little voice is probably right, the good times don’t last forever, but neither do the bad times. Life is fleeting and no matter what happens nothing lasts forever.

So while all of these good things are happening to me i’m going to focus on vibrating higher, live right in this moment and appreciate every single good thing that is happening to me right now. The big things and the small, getting a new job and finding a lucky cent. Because they all matter and they all make me smile and it’s these things that manage to keep me going even in my darkest days.

One thing that has really helped me in not being so worried about the future is how i have such an amazing group of friends who have been so good to me through everything. On days when i have felt low and felt empty, its my friends who have helped raise me back up and fill me back up with love.

It’s weird how much things can change in one year, how your perception can change. I once remember writing that life is not meant to be lived in pain. Oh how naive i feel now for writing that, but that’s genuinely what i thought at the time. Now i realize that that’s what life is, it’s painful and it’s unfair. We just have to not let that pain consume us and drag us under. For it’s the pain that makes us who we are. The pain makes us stronger.

So here’s to new beginnings. Here’s to 2017. Here’s to being stronger than ever.

Even in my lowest lows I have unwavering faith that the universe has my back.

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My Bulk So Far.

I said when I started blogging again that I was going to blog my bulk and then when it comes to it my cut. So here is my first bulk blog post.

** FYI – I’m sure a lot of people reading my blog will know this already but just for anyone who doesn’t already know –

Bulking is being in a caloric surplus and gaining muscle (also unfortunately a bit body fat that inevitably comes with it). Usually people bulk in the winter so that when they have that little bit of extra body fat it’s not the time of year we want to be showing off our bods.

Cutting is what happens after the bulk. When all of that lovely muscle has been built up underneath but the layer of fat that comes with all of the added calories is still covering the muscles. Of course they need to be shown off so cutting is being in a caloric deficit and burning away that fat so that you can show all of those lovely muscles you worked so hard for.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way.

I had been on a half hearted bulk starting from around October but I was really struggling with eating properly and I was extremely nervous about putting on any weight. Even in my usual diet I don’t eat a lot of carbs to begin with, so when I wrote out my meal plans for my bulk and worked out my macros I planned to slowly up my calories by about 200 every week as I had heard this way works best. However even upping my calorie intake by that small amount was really difficult for me, especially since I was going from eating a lot of protein and fewer carbs to eating a lot more carbs. I felt so bloated all day and was feeling to stuffed i didn’t want to eat my next meal so wasn’t managing to finish my calories each day.

Also because when I was about 18 I put on about a stone in weight and was extremely unhappy, I was so nervous about gaining even a little bit weight this time round. I knew that in order to get the physique I wanted I would have to sacrifice my abs and leanness for a little while, but that didn’t make it any easier mentally. I had been making progress but it was very slowly and it was messing with my head having so much anxiety about planning my workouts and meals. You will know from my previous blog posts last year was a very tough year for me mentally so I really had no confidence in myself at the time.

So that’s when I messaged my lovely friend Lauren Levine to ask for her help. We worked together in Ibiza a few years back and ever since she has been such an inspiration to me watching her fitness journey. I thought to myself If I have a professional like her coaching me online and advising me then it would put my mind to rest. I would not have to worry about what if I am doing it wrong, or what if I wasn’t doing the right kind of training, or what if I wasn’t eating the right foods and I gained to much body fat instead of muscle. I knew in my head I had read every single book on bulking, ready every online article I could find, downloaded every piece of info I could. But lets face it my anxiety was really overwhelming me and I was worry worry worrying about not getting it right. So to put my mind at ease I asked Lauren to help me.

My training the past few weeks has been all about lifting heavy again and building back up my strength which I was very excited about. My sessions feel so much more effective and I have started to really enjoy it again. I think even just having somebody else plan them for me has took a massive weight off my mind so that I can solely focus on the training itself and the eating without any worries or concerns.

It took a bit of playing around with my carbs and meal times to find out what worked best but now I’m up to 2500 calories a day / 3000 calories on rest days and finding I am not bloated and actually feeling a lot more energised. I realised that a lot of carbs don’t agree with me. I now stick to just oats or sweet potato for my carbs as I realised that whole-wheat pasta and brown rice were really making my stomach feel huge and uncomfortable which was making me even more stressed. I also had to start my meals a lot earlier in the day. I used to not eat until about 11am but its pretty difficult to fit in 3000 calories between 11am and 9pm and not be absolutely stuffed. So now I also have a meal before I leave for work at about 7am and start eating at this time, this helps me to spread my meals out better during the day and not feel like I was forcing my meals in. I decided to buy a gainer shake with carbs in for after my workouts instead of just the standard whey, an easy way to get in a few of those extra calories. Lauren also advised me to track my calories and meals on my fitness pal which is actually a great and very easy way to keep a food diary instead of writing everything down like I was.

My body has changed so much in only 4 weeks, my weight is steadily going up now at a good pace (unlike before when it was very slow and kept pausing). I am loving my training and happy to be working on all of the big lifts / compound movements. I finally have my eating on track and in a routine that I find manageable and easy to prep. So now I feel like everything is in place, I have found what is working for me and am really looking forward to seeing how my body is going to look by the end of this bulk as I definitely feel and look much better than I did at the beginning of the year. It just goes to show that eating calories and being lean doesn’t always make you look your best. I personally feel that I look a lot better now than I did when I was a bit leaner, I feel like my muscles are filling out more and I have a lot more confidence!

I’ll keep you updated with anything new I try and if anyone has any tips or good advice I’m all ears. Like I said the past few years I have been focusing on maintaining my shape and staying lean, this is my first proper bulk so I’m open to suggestions.

3 weeks difference in this picture. Lots of training. Lots of food. Lots of sunbeds.

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Eternal Optimist.

So after taking a 2 month hiatus from my blog, I finally re discovered my passion for writing and remembered why I started this thing in the first place.

Last year was so tough for me. I found out that I’m not superwoman. I had to admit that i am only human (i know, shocker) and that maybe i had taken on to much at once. But hey, God loves a trier right?

Anyhow, after a midyear mental break down, lots of sleepless nights, millions of tears, countless panic attacks, months of being in denial and pretending i was fine, depression and anxiety, I finally admitted I wasn’t ok. I took some time off from work, time off from the gym, time off from writing my blog. At the time this seemed to me like my absolute worst nightmare, I didn’t want to slow down or stop doing all of these things but it was important for my health, mental & physical.

It’s weird because everybody else could see it at the time, everybody was telling me Kirsty your way to hard on yourself, your taking on to much, stop trying to please everybody, you need to rest. But of course I didn’t listen.

We all make mistakes, Christ I’ve made some whopper ones, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to make plenty more. But you know what? To be old and wise you first have to be young and stupid. Good judgement comes from experience, and experience.. well that comes from bad judgement. So here’s to many more mistakes. Making mistakes doesn’t matter, what matters is if you don’t learn from them and you keep on making the same mistakes.

Sounds grim I know, not my usually positivity. But actually, after being forced to confront all of the ways I was holding myself back, after being forced to admit that I needed help after struggling in silence, somewhere in that dark dark place… I found myself.

So this past few months have been a journey of self-discovery for me. The biggest thing has been learning to not be so hard on myself and to stop being a people pleaser and to just do things for me. I’m learning a lot about the real me, and within that I rediscovered my passion for writing. So I’m back to writing my blog, but it’s going to be a little different this time. Still based on fitness / spirituality, but this time I’m going to be more honest and write about what is really going on. The highs and the lows.

If you look back in my blog posts from last year you won’t see any mention of how much I was suffering, I wasn’t intentionally hiding it but like I said I was in denial. I’ve never been one to ask for help, or even admit when I need it. I am fiercely independent. I had so many people asking me why I hadn’t wrote for my blog in a few weeks, if everything was ok, I just didn’t know what to tell people. So I finally decided you don’t need to tell people anything, just be honest. So that’s what this is.

It’s weird because even after the hardest year of my life, having days where I couldn’t leave the house or go to work, days when I thought I just can’t do this anymore, days where i wondered if I maybe wasn’t strong enough. Now I’m actually better than I ever have been. Never in my life have I been so honest and true to myself, and it’s a wonderful feeling.

Rock bottom is a pretty good place to build a solid foundation. So that’s exactly what I did. And now I’m working on building myself back up, brick by brick, stronger than I was before. I remind myself every day – I got this.

Whilst suffering with a list of mental health issues along with over all a really challenging year, I still managed to keep my optimism no matter what. That’s one thing that will never be taken away from me.

I guess if one person reads this and can relate, or one person feels motivated by it, or one person who is suffering with mental health takes anything at all away from me blogging about this, then it was worth writing. I just want to do me and hopefully inspire and empower some people along the way, the reason i started my blog in the first place.

Love and Light.

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The mask.

It just hurts so much.

Oh the shame of being you.

& so you detached and you wore a mask every day.

You wore it so well that you even believed it yourself.

It was the only way to survive, the only way you knew how.

 

So what happens now?

What happens now you know?

 

Do you choose authenticity?

Or do you pick up another mask?

 

You do have a choice.

& you start by being honest with yourself.

 

But if i take off the mask…. who am i? How do i know who i was before the world told me who i should be?

 

Your a survivor. Start there.

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To be human.

Coincidences do not exist.

Nothing happens by chance.

Life is a string of seemingly complex synchronicities leading us from one experience to another.

These ‘meaningful coincidences’ are a wink from the universe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

That all is well.

& although now you cannot see how the different phases & events in your life are connected..

One day you will look back with the deepest smile in your heart when everything finally comes together and you realise why it all happened, what it all meant, and what you were being prepared for.

& until that day, stop trying to figure it out, just laugh at the madness, the good, the bad, all of it..

because this is why we are here, to experience what it is to be beautifully human.

The good and the bad.

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