Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

You know how we can feel very confident one minute and totally inadequate the next?

Well, that happens because we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. It’s not as if we do this on purpose. It happens automatically in our unconscious mind.

You see, in order to process the immense amount of information that comes our way every second, the unconscious mind must find a way to filter what is relevant and important.

Whenever we receive information from the environment, the unconscious mind measures it against our standards and label the event. That’s what determines how we feel about an event.

But even though it is natural to make comparisons, it is not necessarily beneficial. Specially when your standards are off.

Using others as your benchmark is like comparing apples to oranges. Everyone has a completely different set of values and beliefs, and therefore choose to put effort into different areas of their lives, developing different skills and qualities.

And when you get into the habit of comparing yourself to others, you will end up falling in one of the following traps.

You either start looking for flaws in people, becoming extremely critical and judgemental in the hopes of feeling good about yourself. Or, you will become extra competitive, trying to beat anyone you meet but never being fully satisfied with your own achievements.

Either way you lose.

So in order to change this behaviour, we will need to change our internal programming. This means giving your unconscious mind a new set of rules, new standards.

So instead of comparing yourself to others, look at people for inspiration. Look at their achievements as a reassurance that it is possible to do better. When you see people as role models, your attitude changes. And if your attitude change, your emotions change.

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Start 2021 with Positive Vibes

A New Year begins and with that comes renewed hope for a better future.

At this moment, we are generally more optimistic and enthusiastic which makes it the perfect time to design the future we would like to manifest.

So to get the best out of the positive vibes we are experiencing, I suggest the following visualisation exercise.

Sit on a comfortable position. Take three deep breaths and then close your eyes.

Relax your whole body starting from your toes, ankles, legs, hips, abdominals, lower back, rib cage, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. Neck, face, forehead, top of the head and back of the head.

Feel your body completely relaxed. You feel so light it is as if you are floating. Enjoy this feeling for a couple of breaths.

I now invite you to create a mental picture of an ideal world in which you have exactly what you want. In this world there are no limitations and noting is impossible.

Take your time to look around.

What do you see?

Where are you?

What is happening around you?

Who is with you?

How is that affecting your life?

What about the sounds around you? What do you hear?

What does your inner voice say?

What about other people? Close friends, family, even strangers? What are they saying?

Now I want you to notice what emotions are present. How are you feeling? Joy, love, freedom, appreciation… Those emotions are empowering and drive you into your passion.

Invite these emotions into your body and feel them as if they were happening now. When you feel them in your body, they become real in in mind. That’s the power of this exercise.

Now, choose your favourite scene from this mind movie you’ve just created.

Pause it and notice how beautiful and satisfying this image is. It is your perfect future and that makes your heart sing. Now, adjust this image so it becomes more vivid. It feels so real you can almost touch it. That’s right.

Now it is time to save this image in a special place. A place in your mind reserved for dreams and goals. This image can be retrieved at any time and will silently work as your internal compass, guiding your steps towards the desired outcome. When you are in doubt or in need of reassurance all you need to do is go back to this image and it will tell you what to do.

Now it is time to allow your unconscious mind to consolidate your design. There is nothing else you need to do for now. Just rest assured that it will be taken care of.

Take a deep breath and when you are ready open your eyes.

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How to Use Affirmations Effectively

You probably heard about affirmations before. You might even have tried doing affirmations as part of a self-development process. But have you being performing them in a way that will bring you the results you want?

You see, to be effective you must fully believe in the affirmation you are performing. And I find that that’s where most people fall short. Repeating a sentence without fully understanding or accepting its content will not change how you feel about something.

So let’s look at a better way of doing it, shall we?

First, what are affirmations?

Affirmation is simply the action or process of stating something with conviction. And you know what? We do it all the time. Just not in the most beneficial way.

For instance, have you ever said something along the lines “oh I’m so stupid”, “I can’t get anything right” or “I’ll never get a good job”?

If so, you have been practising affirmations. Negative ones though.

Every time that you repeat something like this, you are reinforcing a belief.

But what are beliefs? Beliefs are imaginary rules that guide our actions and behaviours. Things such as our rights, duties, abilities and permissions. This set of rules are formed as we grow up and older, through previous experiences and the influence of the environment around us.

The problem is that they can also come as a result of faulty logic, assumptions and fears. And when that happens, we start basing our decisions on a distorted view of the world which can hold us back big time.

The good news is that those rules are not absolute truths. They are just mental constructs created at a certain point in life and can be changed whenever we feel that they are not serving us anymore.

And we can use affirmations to change a pre-existing belief.

When I was a child, I used to get very frustrated when I couldn’t find an answer for my homework. I remember sitting in front of my workbook, crying and repeating “I don’t know.” To which my mum would immediately make me rephrase it “I don’t know but I will learn.” And you know what? It made me shift from a negative belief  (I don’t know) into a positive one (but I will learn). If it wasn’t for this reframe, I would probably still be feeling extremely frustrated whenever I couldn’t figure out something immediately.

So here’s how you can apply this concept.

Step 1. Start with a negative beliefs you want to reframe. E.g. I’m such a failure.

Step 2. Find ways of challenging the thought pattern. E.g. Is this a fact or an assumption? What am I basing this statement on? Is there evidence against it? How can I see this differently?

Step 3. Reframe the thought pattern. E.g. Well, I made a mistake and that happens. I am learning from it and next time I’ll do better.

Step 4. Practice self-awareness and repeat the new pattern. Every time you notice that you are repeating the negative statement, interrupt the pattern and introduce the new affirmation. The more you repeat it, the more you will reinforce it.  

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What’s Lifestyle Change

So you want to change your body, to become fit and healthy, to feel comfortable in your own skin so you can finally be free to enjoy life, go after your dreams and fulfil your true potential.

I get it.

It is not as if you haven’t tried before. You certainly did. Some things worked for a while. Others left a bitter taste behind. And now, you might be a little discouraged.

You are not alone. I’ve heard this story multiple times. That’s why I decided to make this video. To show you that there is nothing wrong with you. It is the way you have been approaching that it’s not the best.

Here’s why you haven’t succeed yet and what you need to do to get back on track.

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Are You Resting Enough?

Did you know that your gains happen outside of the gym, when you are resting? That’s right.

Exercise is just the initial push, a necessary stimulus that forces the body to go through physiological adaptations (getting stronger, building muscle, becoming leaner). For those adaptations to occur, the body requires time to clean up the mess created by your workout session (think of all the by-products left behind) and to repair broken down tissue that was (purposefully) damaged during exercise.

So what happens if we don’t give time for the body to recover?

Well, first you will not see the results you were expecting. And second, you may get yourself injured. 

Without proper rest, the body doesn’t have the means to restore balance which can be dangerous.

You see, exercise acts as an stressor shifting the body into Sympathetic Mode (aka fight or flight). In this mode, our internal environment is bathed in adrenaline-like hormones, raising the hear rate and breathing, shifting blood flow to muscles and releasing energy from our energy stores.

But this is a temporary state. When we finish our workout, the body will then shift gears, getting into Parasympathetic Mode (aka rest and digest). At this stage, muscles begin to relax, blood flow is redistributed to internal organs, heart rate and breathing returns to normal, and processes like digestion can be resumed.

In a cellular level, the body starts the clean-up process, removing  exercise by-products and buffering acid that was left behind. Blood flow will also bring more oxygen, glucose and minerals that are necessary for replenishing depleted energy stores.

Later, when you are sound asleep, specific hormones are released promoting tissue growth and repair, and energy is completely restored.

Now that you know how important rest is, let’s see what you can do to give mother nature a hand.

How to Improve Recovery

  • Cool down

After a workout session, it is important to guide the body through a cool down process. This helps returning heart rate and breathing to normal levels, and redirecting blood flow back to internal organs (preventing blood to be pooled in the lower limbs). It also promotes the initial removal of by-products and starts buffering of acids which preventing muscle soreness.

Good ways to cool down are: light exercise such as a gentle walk, stretching and using a foam roller to massage muscles, all of which can prevent the formation of knots (tight spots on muscles).

Also, keep in mind that all of those modalities can be performed later in the day if it is not possible to do immediately after your training session.

  • Hydration

During a moderate to intense exercise session, the body loses a considerable amount of fluids. If you tend to sweat profusely, it may even temporarily reduce your weight (not fat loss, just water).  That’s why it is important to drink plenty of fluids after exercise.

Keep in mind that rehydrating the body helps eliminating exercise by-products because the extra water temporarily increases blood volume, forcing the kidneys to filter the blood, flushing out toxins in the process.

  • Proper Nutrition

After exercise, your body is starved. If you had a good training session, chances are you have used most of your energy (stored in the muscles and liver) which needs to be replenished.

Your post exercise meal is one of the most important because your body will be like a sponge ready to absorb everything you consume.

A post-workout meal should contain carbohydrates (for energy) and protein (for muscle repair). Examples are sweet potato and chicken, eggs on toast, protein shake with banana.

  • Relaxation Techniques

Remember that to send the body into recovery, we must shift into Parasympathetic Mode. But if you are under considerable amount of stress, your body is trapped in the Sympathetic Mode.

That’s when relaxation techniques can be beneficial. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help calm down the mind, leading the body into a more favourable state.

  • Contrast Showers

Contrast Showers, alternating between hot and cold, are commonly used by athletes to accelerate recovery. This protocol forces blood to flow from muscles to internal organs, creating a pump effect that can flush toxins and by products out of the body relatively quickly.

  • Proper Sleep

Sleep is one of the most under-utilised forms of recovery. During sleep, specially deep sleep, the body releases growth hormone which is responsible for tissue repair and muscle growth.

In addition, proper sleep helps control appetite, boost immune system and keep stress hormones (cortisol) at bay.

Aim for a minimum of 8 hours of uninterrupted shut eye.

  • Massage

Massage reduces muscle tension, aids in recovering normal length of muscles, and prevent the formation of knots (tight spots on muscles). It also promotes general relaxation taking the body into parasympathetic mode.

  • Other ways to relax and recover

Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts can help with muscle relaxation, reduce inflammation, and improve sleep.

Magnesium supplements tend to promote muscle relaxation, improve muscle function, maintain electrolyte balance (preventing muscle cramps) and reduce general fatigue.

Compression garments are tight clothing that are designed to improve recovery. They are usually used by athletes to enhance performance and accelerate recovery time.

Want to create your own recovery protocol? Then, you will love this BONUS recovery chart.

Click here to download.

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Lessons from a Fitness Challenge

The fitness industry loves Challenges. And at this time of the year, they seem to be everywhere: “40-day build challenge” or “12 weeks to a bikini body.“

I’ve never been very fond of challenges because they tend to reinforce behavioural patterns and beliefs that are not beneficial.

For instance, most challenges are short-lived contributing to the erroneous belief that losing weight (or building muscle) is a fast process. To deliver results in such short period of time, most programs rely on endorsing extreme behaviours that are not realistic (or safe) for the average person. Those behaviours generate an enormous amount of deprivation which could potentially lead to unhealthy compensatory behaviours (binging, purging or over exercising). Besides, most programs don’t expand on how to maintain the results, so once the challenge is over you are on your own.

I’m not saying that challenges don’t work. They do. But only for a very specific type of people:

  • Usually already fit
  • Highly motivated
  • Used to dieting and extreme exercise
  • Hold certain values – health and fitness, appearance – as priority
  • Enjoy being pushed to the limit

People who don’t fit this profile end up feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, discouraged, disappointed, ashamed, and powerless.

At least, that’s what I thought.

Since I don’t like jumping into conclusions, I decided to conduct a little research. I enrolled on a 40-day challenge.

I wanted to understand what drove people into these programs. And if they don’t work for most folks, why were they coming back? Is it some kind mass delusion or is there something I am missing?

So there I went with an open mind in search for answers. Much to my surprise, I was able to find quite a few positives which I am sharing with you now:

  1. Challenges are a group activity that happens inside a community of likeminded people. This  creates a sense of belonging, of being understood, of not being alone which is fundamental for success. People in these communities are supportive and ready to cheer you up when you need it.
  2. The fact that you enrolled in something creates instant accountability. That’s because we tend to tell people around us about the challenge and they will want to know how you are progressing. In my experience, the more people you tell, the better your adherence will be. There is always someone who won’t let you off the hook if you slide.
  3. There is usually a willingness to play at 100%. You’ve made the commitment and you are going to give your best. (Even if it is temporary. In fact, knowing that the effort has a deadline increases ability to use willpower. “I just need to hang in there for a few more weeks.”)
  4. Strong commitment to a program contributes to consistent behaviours. And behaviours consistently repeated over time can turn into life-long habits.
  5. Momentaneous empowerment. Voluntary participation (it doesn’t count if you were forced into a program) on a challenge can shift your beliefs from “this is too hard” to “I can do this.”
  6. Those challenges are full of role models that post their struggles and how they overcame them. This can inspire a change in attitude when facing a roadblock. “What would so and so do?”
  7. Having structure inspire trust (after all, this program was carefully designed by an expert) which eliminates second-guessing (the root of negative self-talk).

The bottom line is that participating on a challenge can be very beneficial if it played right. That’s because these programs can generate loads of positive emotions (empowerment, enthusiasm, positive expectations, optimism and hopefulness) that are necessary to overcome potential roadblocks.

Remember that positive states of mind are more resourceful.

This means being able to use willpower to overcome cravings, looking for solutions rather than excuses, shutting down negative self-talk, prioritising based on your goal, making better choices and so on.

Hold your horses. Before you jump into this bandwagon, be aware that challenges are, as the name say, challenging. If your life is already full of stress, this is probably not the best time to start one.

However, it doesn’t mean that you need to wait for perfect conditions (by the way, there is no such thing as perfect conditions, life is imperfect by default) in order to do something.

What if we could create mini-challenges in our life? I mean, small manageable changes. Would that be helpful?

Bingo! My proposal is engaging in a behaviour-based challenge (rather than a full on all-or-nothing challenge). That means instead of trying to change a million different things at once (which can be overwhelming), we focus on installing one healthy habit at a time (or breaking an undesirable one). For example, a 30-day alcohol-free challenge or a 6-week Zumba challenge.

You will get all the benefits of participating on a challenge, minus the stress and overwhelm of trying to do too many changes at once. In addition, small changes may feel so easy to incorporate in your daily routine that you might be inclined to keep going even when the challenge is over.

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How to Stay Committed to Your Goals

You know how people start very excited about a goal just to lose motivation within a few weeks?

This is because it is normal to experience an emotional roller coaster as we pursue a goal. One day, we are super excited and passionate. The other, we may feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

The biggest challenge is to go through the downs without falling off the bandwagon. But how do we do that?

In this video, I share my top tip for staying connected and committed to your goals even during hard times.

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How to Avoid the Emotional Roller Coaster

The journey towards any goal is seldom a straight line. More often than not you will face challenges. It’s a normal part of the process.

But the problem is that these challenges may have a direct effect on your mind, creating a turmoil of emotions. Emotions that if not taken care of, tend to escalate to humongous proportions preventing you to reach your goals and dreams.

Let’s take a closer look at the emotional roller coaster that is a fitness journey.

Stage 1 – You have just decided to embark on this journey. Motivation is high as a kite. You can’t see any obstacles so you overestimate your own abilities, creating an ambitious plan that may not be realistic on the long run. But you are excited and you go with it.

Stage 2 – You are two weeks in and still can’t see any visible results. Decide to do some research and get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. You get confused and start to second guessing your original plan. You feel compelled to make adjustments.

Stage 3 – Still no results and life catches up with you. You feel impatient and frustrated. “I am doing so much. I should be seeing some difference by now. Why is it taking so long?”

Stage 4 – Start feeling overwhelmed with everything you set up to do. It feels hard to keep up. Motivation starts to waver.

Stage 5 – Now, you are second guessing everything. “Am I on the right path? Am I capable of doing this? Do I even want it?”

Stage 6 – Negative self-talk starts. Can’t see anything good about this journey. Blame game starts.

Stage 7 – As the internal pressure rises you feel discouraged. You are on the brink of giving up.

Stage 8 – “Can’t take it anymore.” You jump off the band wagon. Experience an initial feeling of relief, followed by guilt, unworthiness and dis-empowerment.

Stage 9 – Go on with your life. Try to justify your decision to quit. Use other things to make you feel better but it is too late. The whole experience left a scar in your self-esteem.

Have you gone through something like that before? Well, you are not alone. It is estimated that 73% of people who starts a fitness program give up before seeing results. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

As I mentioned on my previous post (click here if you haven’t read it), to be successful you must learn to deal with negative emotions. Otherwise, you will quit before even starting.

Why is this important? Because we make decisions are based on emotions. The truth is that negative emotions trigger a response from a primitive part of the brain which tends to underestimate resources and overestimate threats. It’s a survival instinct.

But you are not here to survive. You are here to thrive, right?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to control emotions in order to make decisions from a resourceful state, not biased by fear, guilt, insecurity or other negative emotions.

Take willpower, for instance. Willpower is a resource that can only be accessed when you are on a positive state of mind (from joy to contentment). The moment you go down on the emotional scale, you reach an unresourceful state and can’t rely on willpower anymore.

A negative state generates negative self-talk, bringing up limiting beliefs based on past experiences. In those states, the mind start looking for reasons why you can’t succeed. And the more you allow the negative self-talk to grow, the deeper you go into a negative state.

Therefore, learning to manage emotions is fundamental if you want to achieve any goal. Emotional intelligence doesn’t prevent negative emotions to arise but it allows you to recognise when you are getting into  an emotional spiral so you can stop it before it’s too late.

The good news is that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a skill which can be learned and strengthened. You just need to start.


Click here to book a complimentary consultation call and discover what coaching can do for you.

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Three steps to achieve anything in 2020

Another year is over. There is something about new beginnings that fill our hearts with hope. Hope that this time everything will work out. That things will be different.

But the truth is that it will only be different, if you are willing to do something different this time.

No, this is not another post about setting New Year’s Resolutions. We know very well that they don’t work. It’s also not about setting SMART goals. And while I do like setting goals, I also know that they are easier said than done.

People don’t fail because they can’t set goals. They fail because they can’t follow through.

So that’s where we need to start. And making superficial lifestyle changes is not going to cut it. You might have already discovered that adopting behaviours that you are not ready for,  simply don’t stick.

My point is: to make sustainable changes, the transformation must happen from within.

Here are three things to kickstart your transformation:

1. Ditch the negative self-talk

Do you know why most people fail? That’s because they allow their own mind to talk themselves out of their goals. To achieve anything, we will need to act consistently towards what we want but it is very hard to do that when we have a negative committee inside of our heads.

So, what is the difference between people who achieve their goals and people who don’t?  Emotional intelligence. Successful people face the same challenges that you do. They go through ups and downs, they question their choices, they may lose motivation from time to time. However, they know that this is temporary. A setback, not the end of the line.

2. Fire the perfectionist in you

Do you know what get you results? Action. Moving towards your goals even if it is just a little step.  

Sometimes, we can get caught up creating the “perfect” plan and waiting for the “perfect” opportunity to make a move. But you know what? Life is not perfect. If you are waiting for perfect conditions to start, you may not start ever. That’s procrastination.

And procrastination comes from fear. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of failing. Making mistakes is not a bad thing. That’s how we learn. In reality, there is no such thing as failure. Only feedback.

3. Don’t rely on willpower

You may think that the reason you haven’t succeeded yet was because of lack of willpower. That if only you can have a stronger will, then you will be alright.

But I’ll tell you right now that willpower is NOT a long-term strategy. This is because willpower is a limited resource that requires conscious effort and can only be used when you are at top notch condition. Meaning that when you need it the most (like when you are sad, tired, stressed or bored) you will not be able to use it.

So no. You are not weak. You are just using the wrong strategy.

Like what you read here?

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Why Willpower Is Not Enough To Create Real Change

Do you know anyone who went through a full transformation? I mean, someone who has drastically changed his/hers habits? A complete overhaul.

What do you think happened to this person? Do you think that he/she has an enormous amount willpower, determination and self-control?

Well, I assure you that it was more than that.

You see, willpower is a conscious decision that requires a lot of energy and effort, making it a limited resource that can only be accessed when you are at the top of your game. This means that when you are felling tired, stressed, sad, angry or even bored, you will not be able to use your willpower. (can you remember a time in which you were resolute to wake up early to go to the gym, for instance, but in the morning when the alarm went off, you simply convinced yourself to stay in be?)

The truth is that all change happens on the subconscious level because that’s where our habits, patterns and addictions are stored. Willpower, on the other hand, is part of the conscious domain and the conscious mind is only responsible for 5% of our mental capacity. The other 95% is run by the subconscious mind.

To explain this concept I like using the following metaphor.

Imagine that your conscious mind is a tiny little person. This person is supposed to ride on top of a huge elephant. The elephant is your subconscious mind.

Now, the rider is smart and has the ability to guide the elephant through the path he wants. However, because of the difference in size, the rider doesn’t have the power to control this elephant. If the elephant for some reason gets scared, distracted or impulsive, it take off in the opposite direction, and the rider will not have the strength to prevent it from running away.

This means that to make permanent changes, you will need to learn what motivates your elephant, so your rider can easily guide it through the path you want.

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