Mentorship is defined as “a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person”.
Everyone needs to learn how to get and keep a mentor in their life, because the best way to learn anything is through mentorship. Entrepreneurs, especially, or anyone who is learning cutting-edge science and technology needs a mentor to learn in the quickest way possible. Mentors can be a lot of things that most people overlook. They can be:
I read over 300 books last year, and they changed my life, my income, my relationships, just overall improved the quality of my life. Books, for me, are the best form of mentors. An in-person mentor relationship is possibly the best all-around simply because you’ll get live feedback from the teacher.
I haven’t really had the opportunity to be around wise and old mentors, but I can definitely read their books. Books on money, books on relationships, books on sales funnels, books on health…Experts say if you read 4 books on any topic, you’re in the top 90% of the population that knows information about that topic.
Imagine how much more reputable you would seem if you read just one book a month in your industry. They say an average CEO reads over 52 books a year, and that’s because there’s always something new to learn, changes happening, and to stay on the top and stick with cutting edge business, you need to keep learning. Business mentors are very busy, so when you go in for the ask you should have something that adds value to their life. For example, in a business situation you could say “If you’ll train me how to sell things online through email marketing, I’ll write your future emails for you, so you won’t have to”.
So a lot of people are really confused and go about getting a mentor wrong. I get tons of emails a month about people asking to be mentored by me, and if I get a bunch, you know people like Gary Vee, Grant Cardone, other big business people are getting loads of requests. Here’s the big deal.
You don’t need permission to get a mentor! Just go consume everything they put out, all of their content. Getting a professional mentor that follows your every step and watches your work is overrated.
Go buy all of their books, their courses, and actually, you don’t even have pay… just look up stuff on Youtube, read blog posts about them, everything you can find, consume it.
If they have taken the time to make a course, or write a book, they did it so you could learn.
I got a whole bunch of emails on dating advice and my top videos were about dating and how to talk to girls… so I made a whole course of premium content just teaching you how to find, get, and keep your dream girl. You’re going to get much much more out of that, than you are asking me a question. The difference is you searching for my content, versus you asking me to give you content. Most of the time, the mentors you love already have put out a ton of content, you just have to look for it. The difference is you putting in the work versus them putting in the work. Make life easier for them and they’ll be more likely to help you.
How did you learn to walk? When you were a baby, you watched other adult professional-walking humans walk. No really, that’s how you learned.
We can copy this strategy and use it to learn almost anything else.
If you want to learn how to ride a unicycle (shoutout to Brandon), if you want to learn how to animate (shoutout to Yusuf), if you want to learn how to create an awesome sales funnel (shoutout to Clark), you learn from experts.
My favorite way to learn is to learn from other people, and that includes books. This is why mentorship is sooo important. If you’re a fan of evolution, you know that a species that learns from it’s own mistakes, does not live as long as a species that learns from the mistakes of others. You can do the same by learning from other people’s mistakes.
When I was creating my dating course, I had Alex from Create and Go mentoring me. He wasn’t holding my hand, but he was there to double check my work and answer my questions. We sent emails back and forth, he would answer them in video format, and I got a lot out of just seeing his thought process about course creation and getting sales. Notice how he didn’t do the work for me, he showed me. This is something else that is very important. Mentor’s aren’t there to hold your hand, but they are there to guide you, help you along the way.
Also, you need to know that mentorships between people are usually very personal and the mentor is quite invested in seeing you succeed. A lot of professionals will hire coaches and want the same thing, but a coach just wants to to be paid and doesn’t necessarily worry about your personal success.
Now, I’m going to give you some tips to actually finding a mentor and making sure they are in the right mindset to help you.
Gratitude is a popular subject these days among psychologists, spiritual groups, and average individuals looking for more happiness in their lives. And it’s no wonder: people who feel more appreciative tend to be more satisfied in their careers, relationships, and personal lives. Actively feeling thankful often creates a ripple effect, where the initial thought of gratitude brings out more positive feelings, like joy, comfort, and calmness. But in today’s world, it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity of our surroundings, whether we’re stressed out from work or frustrated with the political landscape or just having a hard time recognizing the good through all of the bad we’re seeing. That’s understandable. If you’re looking for a more positive outlook, though, training yourself to feel more grateful more often is a great place to start.
Be more mindful.
So much of learning to feel more grateful is linked to being more mindful. After all, it can be difficult to feel gratitude if you’re not paying attention to your life to see the good things in it. Start your day by taking a minute to be aware of your surroundings, your feelings, and your first thoughts. As you go through your day, repeat the exercise whenever you think of it. Even better, have a reminder that gets you to stop for a minute a few times throughout the day. It can be an alarm you set on your phone or a note on your desk that tells you to notice the present moment, or even an object—like a piece of jewellery—that you train your brain to associate with the exercise so you’re reminded to take a minute to reflect whenever you see it. Find three things you’re thankful for each time you do this short mindfulness exercise and take the opportunity to really feel your appreciation. With time, this will become habit and you’ll find yourself doing it without the reminders.
Surround yourself with reminders.
Surrounding yourself with inspirational quotes directly relating to gratitude is a great way to help you get into that habit. You’ve probably seen them floating around the internet or hanging on a bulletin board in an office or classroom. Usually the image is something serene, either a soothing abstract or a nature photograph, and there’s a simple phrase printed on it, like “It is not happy people who are thankful; It is thankful people that are happy.” These kinds of quotes serve as instant reminders to get into an attitude of gratitude. Whenever you see one, think of a few things that you’re thankful for and linger in that feeling for a few moments. The easiest way to expose yourself to inspirational quotes is to follow a page on Facebook or an account on Instagram that is dedicated to posting them—and there are plenty to choose from. That way, when you go onto social media, images pop up in your feed without you having to chase after them. You’ll find the reminders useful if you still need prompts to get you thinking about what you’ve got to be thankful for, and they’re still uplifting even if you don’t.
Work on changing your focus.
If you’re looking to be more grateful in your day-to-day life, it’s probably because you’re not very grateful now. You might be stuck in a pattern of negativity and want to change that. Mindfulness is helpful in this instance too, but instead of being aware of your surroundings to find things you appreciate, focus on being aware of your thoughts so you can change them. Make the decision to pay attention to the way you think and when you recognize that you’re in a train of negative thinking, catch yourself. Now, it’s really hard to not think about something. If you decide to not think about something, there’s a good chance it’s exactly what you’re going to think about. So instead, replace your thoughts so your focus is on what you’re grateful for instead of what you’re unhappy about. You may not be good at catching your thoughts in the beginning and that’s okay. Once you make the decision to pay more attention to how you think, you’ll be surprised how quickly you develop an awareness of your thoughts with just a little practice. Then you can shift your focus and make the choice to find a few things that you’re grateful for, even in situations that you’re not especially thrilled about.
Take some time to identify the good things.
Feeling gratitude is typically just a matter of taking time to recognize some of the good things you have in your life. Stress comes from many sources: an unsteady relationship, an ornery boss, a cat that keeps peeing where she shouldn’t… problems big and small can take over your life if you let them and cause you to overlook the things you’re lucky to have. As problems come up, it can be necessary to pay attention to them so you can work through them, but if you spend all your time stuck on them, it’ll take a toll on you. So, despite what may be happening around you, take a break from thinking about what’s going wrong and actively think about what’s going right. Think about something good that happened to you recently, someone that you love, or something you’re looking forward to. Just taking a couple of minutes to count your blessings will bring out feelings of appreciation and lift your mood.
Keep a gratitude journal.
For those who like more structured exercises, a gratitude journal is a great option to consider. Keep a notebook, a note in an app, or a word document just for this purpose. Each day, set aside a few minutes to spend with your gratitude journal and write down three to five things that you’re thankful for. It can be things that are constant in your life, people you care about, an opportunity you’re excited for, or anything else you’re happy about. Whatever comes to mind, write it in your book. Then, as with the other exercises, spend a minute focusing on feeling thankful for those things. The difference with this exercise compared to others mentioned here is that most of the effort seems focused in one sitting instead of coming up periodically throughout the day, but that’s not exactly accurate. Yes, the journaling happens just once during the day, but when you know that you’ll be writing about what you’re grateful for later, you’ll start thinking about things you can write about as you go about your day and that will have you feeling gratitude frequently.
Be more conscious when you say “thank you.”
Another thing to think about is how often you say “thank you.” Even if you say “thanks” often, it might be more of an impulse and not because you’re actually feeling thankful. Try to be more conscious of when you say thank you, then consider what it is you’re thankful for and really feel thankful for it. For example, if you just bought a coffee and you’ve thanked the barista, what are you thankful for? There are so many possibilities: you could be thankful for the coffee, for the person who made it for you, for how close the coffee shop is to your home, or for the fact that you can afford to buy that coffee. Also consider how often you say “sorry” and see if there are times when you can replace it or follow it with a statement of thanks.. If you’re meeting a friend for lunch and you’re late, you’ll probably apologise for it. But you can also throw in a “thanks for waiting for me” too. Saying that you’re thankful more consciously can help you to feel truly grateful.
Know that your situation could be worse.
Being more grateful is very much about being more positive, but sometimes thinking about negative things can help you feel appreciative. In times when you feel overwhelmed but your problems, it can be tough to think of the good things you’ve got. When that happens, think about other hard times you’ve had instead. Think of times that have been worse for you and be grateful that you’re not in those situations anymore. Or, if it feels like you’re in the worst place you’ve ever been, you can also think of stories you read or heard about in the news that were about other people’s circumstances and be thankful that you’re not going through what they’re dealing with. It’s not the best way to feel more gratitude on a regular basis since the focus is fairly negative and switching to a more positive mindset is preferable, but it’s a way to work toward it when you’re in a tough spot.
Feeling gratitude is easy, but making that feeling a bigger part of your life can take some effort. But it’s just like forming any other habit—as you practice it and do it more and more, it becomes easier and even natural for you to recognize the good things in your world and to feel grateful for them. It’s as simple as reminding yourself to look for the good, and there is something good in every situation, even if it’s hard to see at first.
So many of us have big dreams and exciting goals, but don’t know how to get ourselves to work hard enough to achieve them. It’s all too easy to fall into patterns of laziness and once that happens it can be difficult to get out. But it’s definitely not impossible, and with a few pointers, you can start improving your work ethic right away.
Before you take any action, accept that it might not be a fun endeavour. It is work, after all. Recognizing this fact from the get-go will help you on the journey because you’ll approach it with a realistic mindset. Working hard is hard work, there’s no way around that. But it can also be rewarding and fulfilling, and will be worth it if it gets you closer to your goals. And the work itself probably won’t get easier as time progresses, but you will get into the habit of working hard and that will make it easier to carry on with it.
So much of developing a strong work ethic is about self-discipline and applying it to all areas of your life will help you to apply it at work. Starting your day by hitting the snooze button half a dozen times, dragging yourself through your morning routine, and being late for work is not going to cut it—disciplining yourself to start your day off strong is important and it will ripple through your day. When your alarm goes off, get up. No snooze button, no doddling. Get yourself out of bed and into an attitude of readiness for whatever the day has in store. When you can start your day on a strong note, you’re more likely to carry that all day long. Develop the self-discipline to get up and moving bright and early and you’re more likely to be able to discipline yourself to work hard through the day.
Use your goals to motivate you.
Procrastination will be one of your biggest obstacles. You’ll just have to learn to push through it. One thing that helps is identifying what motivates you and focusing on that when you start to lag on tasks you have to do. There’s probably a reason you want to improve your work ethic—what is it? Do you want to go to a certain school or have a dream-job in mind? Or maybe you want to buy a house or travel the world. Use that to help you keep working, day after day. Keep something related to your goal as a reminder, whether it be a brochure, a photograph, or a small object. Having it in your work area so you can see it can help you keep your goals in mind and motivate you to get to work when you’re tempted to put things off.
Reward yourself (but not too often).
Some people find it’s helpful to use rewards to get them started when procrastination has taken hold. This strategy is okay to use now and then, but don’t make it a habit as it can actually backfire. When you offer yourself a reward for completing tasks too often, it starts to give your brain the impression that the reward is good and the task is bad. If you come to see your work as a chore, it’s going to be harder to bring yourself to do it and to find any amount of enjoyment in it or satisfaction from it—you’ll come to find those things in the reward instead. It could also make it harder to feel motivated when there isn’t a reward involved for doing your work which might cause you to under-perform. In either case, it can ultimately hurt your work ethic which is the exact opposite of what you’re actually intending to do. Sometimes an end goal can be seen as a reward, but that’s okay because it’s something in the distance that you’re working toward and it’s a single reward rather than something that you offer yourself on a regular basis after completing an individual task. Rewards are fine to use so long as you use them sparingly.
Surround yourself with hard-working people.
The people around you can be a significant help or hindrance when trying to improve your work ethic. If you hang around with people who tend to do the bare minimum to get by, you might feel that it’s acceptable for you to do the same, and it can be hard to improve your work ethic when you’re surrounded by people who slack off. Associating with people who tend to work harder than you do can have just the opposite effect. If the people around you are high-performing, high-achieving individuals, you might feel inspired by them to work at a similar level. Or it might put a bit of encouraging pressure on you to keep moving forward and to do better quality work. As long as it’s not causing you excess stress, which can have a negative effect on your ability to work well, the push that being around hard-working people can offer you will help you develop a stronger work ethic.
Take breaks regularly.
This one might seem counter-intuitive, but it can make a difference: remember to take breaks. Yes, pushing yourself is important for forming habits that will result in a strong work ethic, but breaks can keep you in a good mental and physical state while you’re working away. A study from the University of Toronto found that working with lots of short breaks is more productive than working consistently for long hours and, similarly, research done by a social media company found that the most productive people were taking approximately 17 minute breaks for every 52 minutes. These studies focus primarily on productivity, but make implications about work ethic too; if people who take breaks tend to be more productive than those who don’t, you might question why that is. The breaks offer you a chance to refresh yourself, both physically and mentally, which can create renewed enthusiasm for what you’re doing. You’re then not only more focused, which results in greater productivity, but you’re also likely to feel fresh determination which is huge for your work ethic. It’s also easier to work hard when you know you’ll get a chance to relax for a few minutes now and then, rather than feeling overwhelmed by what needs to be done and knowing a break is far off. Now, breaks as long as 17 minutes as often as every 52 minutes may not be the best idea for you, since for some the long breaks can create the temptation to extend them into a lazy day. But when you decide to take several shorter breaks throughout the day, it’s beneficial without becoming too disruptive.
Relax when the work day is done.
Similarly, taking time to relax after-hours is important. Some people feel like they have to work as many hours in a day as possible to be successful and don’t take enough time to let loose and have a little leisure time. When you push yourself through procrastination, it’s a good thing because it’s getting you started on something that needs to be done; when you push yourself to the point of being overworked, you’re eventually going to crash. The stress will add up and start to affect your mental and physical health. It could lead you to hate your work more and more as you force yourself to keep doing it without enough time to relax and your work ethic and wellbeing will suffer. Taking time for yourself after work important for the same reason breaks are important; it gives you a change to re-energize and get ready to work at full-strength again later.
Don’t wait to dive in.
Improving your work ethic is done while you work; it’s not a matter of improving how you feel mentally first and then applying it to your work once you feel like you’ve already changed. If you do this, it could be a long time before you get anything done. Only a small part of the process is done in the mind alone and most of it is a matter of taking actions that train the mind. It’s forming habits though practice. Sure, make the decision mentally to make improvements and think about what you want your plan of action to be, but don’t sit back and wait to start on the actual working part until you feel like your work ethic might be better. It won’t be better until you start participating in hard work and putting in the time.
As you start developing your work ethic, don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first. You’re unlikely to change your ways overnight. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never have a strong work ethic, it just means you don’t right now. It’s a skill, and like any other skill it requires persistence to become good at it. So just keep trying; keep motivating yourself, keep pushing through the temptation to procrastinate, and be sure to take time to relax and recharge. You’re in the midst of a process and success is on the horizon.
Have you ever heard someone described as a “born leader”? The description implies that some people are born suitable for leadership and others aren’t. But there’s also a phrase from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi that has been frequently paraphrased over the years: “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” This quote seems to be more realistic since it’s unlikely anyone is actually born knowing how to lead. Some people may have grown into traits that are great for leadership but those who haven’t can develop them with a little determination. Whatever your starting point, you can learn what’s needed to be a better leader and work to improve your leadership skills.
Learn about different leadership styles.
How you manage a group will determine how effective you are as a leader. Take a look at Lewin’s leadership styles and figure out which one describes your current style best. There are three main types. First there’s authoritarian or autocratic which involves telling people what to do and how to do it and creates a clear divide between the leader and the people being led. It’s useful when decisions need to be made quickly and the leader has the knowledge to make a good decision. It can be problematic when used frequently, though, because people are less inclined to like leader and more inclined to feel limited in their roles. This can result in a team who is unhappy working under their leader which affects productivity and cooperation.
Then there’s delegative or laissez-faire leadership. Leaders who use this style offer minimal guidance and allow the team to work fairly independently or work things out amongst themselves. It can be useful when dealing with a group of highly-qualified individuals, but can also result in disorganization and a lack of productivity.
Finally, there’s participative or democratic leadership where the leader offers guidance and organization but the team is involved in making decisions and giving input. It’s typically considered the most effective style because there is one person keeping everything together and moving but all members of the group get to contribute which makes them feel motivated and enthusiastic. It’s a good middle ground that works for most scenarios.
So identify which leadership style you’re working with now and decide if it’s appropriate for your work environment. Learning about them can also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a leader so you can work with what you know you’re good at and improve where you’re a bit lacking. It’s beneficial to become familiar with the other styles and their benefits as well so that you can recognize when the situation calls for one of them and slip into it. Knowledge is power, and being aware of leadership techniques and your own abilities will help you become a better leader.
Learn to communicate effectively.
One skill you should definitely analyze in yourself and work on is communication. Great leaders are able to express themselves clearly and effectively so that the people following them understand what’s going on and what needs to be done next. And listening is just as important; when you’re able to listen to what your team has to say and take it into account, you have a clearer picture of how each person is functioning and what their needs and concerns are. You know where their strengths and weaknesses are so you can better assess a plan of action when working on projects. Poor communication skills can leave you and your team in a mess due to misunderstandings, while good communication can lead you all to success. Consider what you want to express before you speak so you’re sure you’re clear, and take the time to listen when your group is trying to tell you something.
Be a little more personal.
Knowing the people on your team on a more personal level can help you be a better leader to them. Keeping it appropriate is important, but getting to know what they’re like and what their lives are like can be helpful. If you can understand their passion, their motivations, their struggles, and other major details that make up who they are, you can better offer them guidance on the job and make use of their unique abilities and interests. Letting them know you in a similar way is great too; if they can see you as more than just the person in charge, they might come to like you on a personal level leading to a different kind of respect and new motivation to do well on the team. It’s important to keep things appropriate and remember that your primary relationship is a professional one, but allowing a bit of a personal touch into your leadership can make a positive impact.
Create a positive environment.
When you’re a leader, you have a way of setting the mood for meetings, projects, and the workspace in general. Being conscious of this and choosing to create a positive environment is important. Come to work with a positive attitude and your team is more likely to have the same attitudes. Inspire your team with your passion and provide encouragement to get them excited about the work at hand. Be a better leader by creating a workspace that makes your team feel good; your team will be happier and more productive for it.
Challenge the people you lead.
But a more positive environment doesn’t mean everyone gets to slack off and relax; challenge your workers. Not only will this push your team to be more productive and produce better work which is good for business, it’ll help them be the best versions of themselves because they can learn just what they’re capable of and develop their abilities further. Being a good leader isn’t only about how much is being accomplished and how well business is doing; it’s also about the effect you have on your team. Push them to show themselves and the rest of the group what they’re capable of.
Give praise where praise is due.
And when they succeed or complete exceptional work, give praise where it’s due. All too often employers, teachers, and other leaders focus on offering criticism and, while it can be valuable in some instances, too much criticism will bring an individual down. Offer constructive criticism when needed, but take every opportunity to show your team members appreciation and applaud their successes. Giving them recognition makes them feel accomplished and can be the motivation they need to keep working hard and with enthusiasm. Offer rewards for significant accomplishments and compliment creativity and innovation. You’re a better leader when you can uplift people and get them feeling food about what they’re doing.
Do what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to.
While being a better leader does mean being good to your team, there are times when you’ll have to do things that aren’t so nice. If you’re the leader in a work environment and there’s an individual who is unreliable, not working at an acceptable level, and generally causing problems for the whole team, it’s your responsibility to fire them. It can be a hard thing to do, but being a better leader means facing the unpleasant task head on and doing what needs to be done for the good of the group. If you find it difficult, remind yourself that it has to be done for the sake of everybody’s productivity, so that success can be reached without having a weak link pulling anyone else down. It’s not pleasant, but sometimes being a leader isn’t. Sometimes it’s doing what is necessary despite not wanting to.
Prioritize big problems.
There will be times when it feels like there are so many problems you don’t know what to do, and how you choose to manage the situation will speak volumes about you as a leader. The best leaders know how to prioritize problems and work through the most significant ones first. It can be tempting to put a tough problem on the back burner so you can deal with the simpler ones first, but that can lead to more trouble later. If you want to be a better leader, deal with the most pressing issue first, the one causing the most trouble, so that it’s done with and everyone can carry on. You’ve got to learn to recognize which problem is most significant and which can wait so that disruptions can be minimized.
The role of leader can be extremely challenging due to its importance but also very rewarding when you’ve found a way to thrive in it. Learning to be a better leader is a matter of finding out what makes an effective leader and doing your best to embody those traits and behaviours so that your followers can succeed with your guidance. Even if you don’t feel you’re leader material now, slowly developing the qualities necessary can help you get to a place where you’re ready to manage and organize and group of people in a professional setting. Anyone can take the reins and lead, but it can take some time to learn to lead well.
Sleep is something that is so important to our overall wellbeing and yet so many of us don’t get enough quality sleep. Sometimes when we don’t get a good enough sleep we can still perk up as the day goes on; other times, we feel sluggish, fatigued, and our ability to accomplish tasks lags for the whole 9 to 5. There are some people who have sleep disorders interrupting their sleep, but for most people it’s a matter of lifestyle factors. That’s good news though, because it means you can make some simple changes that will get you sleeping better and feeling more rested.
Wake up and go to sleep at the same times every day.
For starters, get into a routine when it comes to sleeping. When you go to bed at a different time every night and wake up at inconsistent hours your body gets thrown out of any sort of rhythm and it doesn’t rest as well. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning helps your body to get into a pattern so it can start to recognize that there’s a set period where sleep happens. It’ll know that it’s mean to sleep at a certain time and will be ready to rest, and it’ll also know that waking happens at a certain time and will be more alert when you get up. Your sleep will be more restful and you’ll feel more refreshed every morning. It’s also important to note that your body’s natural rhythm is to sleep when it’s dark and be awake when the sun is up, so it’s best if your sleep schedule fits with that, meaning it’s not ideal to go to bed at 4am every day and sleep until noon if you can help it.
Keep your bedroom dark.
And while on the subject of light, it’s important to make sure you minimize it as much as possible where you’re sleeping. As mentioned, our bodies take the sunlight as a signal that it’s time to be awake, so if there’s light where we’re sleeping it can send the wrong message and impact our sleep. If you’ve got an alarm clock, cover it up or turn it around until you need to look at it. If city lights shine in through your window, close the curtains. Even spending too much time with a device like your phone or tablet right before you go to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep and to get quality, restful sleep. Having light shine into your room in the morning can actually be helpful to wake you up, but light from any source at night can be a hindrance to sleep. You’ll do much better when you sleep in a darker space.
Add exercise into your routine.
Exercise is a common recommendation when it comes to trouble sleeping and an effective one. It’s well established that regular exercise—especially cardio, like running—improves the quality of sleep. Research has found that people who exercise regularly sleep much better most nights than those who don’t exercise. Even people with sleep disorders can experience substantial improvement from adding exercise into their daily routines. That said, you should not exercise within four hours of bedtime. Exercise raises your body temperature and this can actually disrupt your sleep, so get in your workout earlier in the day. The downside to this one, though, is that it can take a few weeks to start seeing results from it. Nonetheless, if you’re thinking about your sleep quality long-term, exercise is a great consideration.
Limit your caffeine intake.
Caffeinated drinks tend to be the go-to option for people who don’t sleep well and need an energy boost at some point in the day, whether it’s first thing in the morning or early evening; however, if you’re drinking them in the afternoon or later, it’s probably only going to keep you in a cycle of getting a poor night’s sleep and needing something to perk you up. Ideally, caffeinated beverages should be restricted, but realistically they should at least not be consumed past 2pm. Caffeine’s stimulant effect is useful for a boost but it can stay in your system for around eight hours, so if you’re having a coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drink late in the day, it can make it harder for you to fall asleep or for you to get into a deep sleep which leaves you feeling unrested. So if you must have a caffeinated drink, keep it to before 2pm.
Limit your alcohol intake, too.
Alcohol is another drink that can cause sleep disturbances. Many people mistakenly think that, because alcohol makes them sleepy, it can act as a sleep aid. This isn’t true, though. A few hours after having a drink, the level of alcohol in your blood will begin to lower and your body will start to wake up, so if you have a couple drinks too close to bedtime, you could actually find yourself struggling to fall asleep. Alcohol can also interfere with the quality of your sleep even if it doesn’t keep you up. It makes you fall into a deep sleep for a while, but reduces REM sleep which is considered the most restorative part of the sleep cycle. Less time in REM means you can wake up feeling groggy and unrested. So, like caffeine, alcohol is best consumed rarely, but realistically, having a drink or two at an appropriate time can be done without hurting your sleep quality much. When you do have alcohol, be sure it’s at least two hours before bed to prevent sleep disturbances so you can still get a good night’s rest.
Have the right nighttime snack.
Some people recommend not eating at nighttime, but the right snack can actually be helpful in preparing your body for sleep. If you’re feeling a bit hungry late in the evening, go for a snack that combines carbohydrates and calcium or carbs and a protein that contains tryptophan. You could munch on cheese and crackers, toast and an egg, or fruit and yogurt, for example. Eating these foods about an hour before bed can boost your serotonin levels which will get you feeling calm and relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. Don’t stuff yourself though; a small snack a little while before is helpful, but a big meal can cause your body to split its focus between digesting the food you ate and trying to recharge for the next day and that will impact how well you sleep.
Keep your room cool.
Cozying into bed in a cool room will help you sleep better. It’s recommended that your bedroom be kept between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18 to 24 degrees Celsius for optimal sleep, so set your thermostat if you’ve gone one. Getting into a cool room and, more significantly, cool sheets, will help lower your body temperature a bit which will cause your body to produce melatonin and induce sleep. If you don’t have air conditioning, you can take a hot bath or shower instead. Coming out of the warm water into even a room-temperature space will cause your body temperature to drop, achieving a similar effect. Once you’re settled into bed, you don’t want to feel too cold or too warm, but somewhere in the middle where you’re totally comfortable so you can sleep your best.
Eliminate disruptive noise.
Some are lucky enough to live somewhere that allows their bedroom to be dead quiet at night. Others get the sounds of the neighbour’s dog that barks at all hours or of a night-owl roommate’s music that’s they refuse to turn down. A quiet environment is so important for a good night’s sleep since even periodic, low-level sounds can be enough to disturb some people and wake them out of sleep mid-cycle. If you live somewhere really noisy, it might be worth it to add some soundproofing features to your bedroom, but to drown out subtle background noises like the TV that’s on in another room, a white noise machine can do the trick. Yes, there will be some sound still and it may not be as good as silence for some, but the sounds produced are designed to be soothing and relaxing so that they ease you into sleep. If you can sleep comfortably with headphones on, you could also try listening to binaural beats. Choose a track meant for sleep and it’ll not only block out the sounds from outside but could also help improve your sleep overall.
No matter what you do for a living, no matter where you live, getting quality sleep can make a huge difference on how you feel and your ability to be productive all day long. Commit to making some minor lifestyle changes and see how much better you can sleep better and how much more rested you can wake up every day. And when you feel properly energized, you’re more likely to feel happy, motivated, and ready to succeed. When you sleep better, you live better.
Being able to think big is key to achieving great success. Having big dreams and huge ideas can be the beginning of an amazing journey toward meeting your career goals and can also help you to thrive in your personal life. But sometimes thinking big can feel difficult, not because you’re not capable of having big thoughts, but because you carry limiting beliefs that get you stuck thinking small. Your beliefs can be changed, though, and you can work through the ones that are holding you back so that you can think more freely and come up with some great ideas.
Don’t be too concerned with what’s realistic.
When you’re daydreaming or brainstorming, forget what you believe is realistic. It can take some practice to overcome habits of holding back, but you can start by looking out for evidence that you’re doing it. Try to look out for a tendency to stop yourself because you think your thoughts are unrealistic and whenever you recognize that you’ve stopped your train of thought for this reason, choose to ignore it and continue with the thoughts you were having. Aim to be childlike; be curious and follow where your thoughts are leading you without questioning if the ideas are feasible or not. Give yourself a chance to see what you can come up with. Let your thoughts get bigger and bigger, then you can apply some healthy realism so that you can set some reasonable goals and make attainable plans for yourself. But while you’re in brainstorming mode, let your imagination run wild. Even if you come up with dreams that seem unattainable to you, having them can get you inspired enough to start moving toward trying to achieve them.
Don’t worry about money.
And forget about money while you’re daydreaming, too. Yes, money is definitely going to be a part of many different roads that lead to many different goals, but when you’re just coming up with ideas and training yourself to think bigger, holding onto a belief that you can’t afford this or that is only going to hold you back. So what if you find yourself with a dream or an end goal that you know you can’t afford right now? Allowing yourself to think big enough to reach that thought can open your eyes to your desires and you can always dial it back later. You could also hold onto your big dream and come up with possible ideas as to how to finance it, or figure out a way to adjust it so it’s more affordable. Money might be important to achieving certain goals, but it’s not important in brainstorming—only limiting.
Believe in your own ability to succeed.
Do you, on some level, believe that you’re destined to fail at whatever it is you try to do? This belief is so common and is extremely limiting to your potential. If you always feel like you’re sure to fail, you’re unlikely to think big; you probably squash any big ideas before you have a chance to really let them hatch. Start to train yourself to think differently about yourself. Try positive affirmations; frequently say things to yourself like “I can achieve anything I work for” or “I am competent and can have success.” Over time, you’ll start to believe in yourself more because you’ve repeated the idea enough to cement it into your beliefs about yourself. Removing some of your self-doubt can dissolve the blockage that prevents you from allowing yourself to dream big. Accept that you have the potential to do amazing things and let yourself dream freely.
Don’t think about your limitations.
It could take a while to overcome long-held beliefs about your own abilities. In the meantime, use a technique that re-routes your thinking so you’re able to think big without being held back by a fear of failure or a belief that you can’t succeed. You could pretend that you’re advising someone else on what goal they could reach for and what they could do to work toward it. When self-consciousness is holding you back, it can be easier to think big if you’re thinking about someone else carrying through with the actions. You might be able to see the possibility of success when it’s someone else working for it. Or, pretend that it’s impossible for you to fail. Pretend that you can do whatever you want without the risk of it going wrong. What would you want to accomplish then? How would you do it? Shifting your perspective in this way can loosen you up and let you think with less restriction.
Similarly, objective thinking can be really helpful to work around the limitations you think you have. It’s another way to re-route your thoughts but instead of picturing what you would tell someone else to do, think about what needs to be done to achieve what you’re after in a more general sense. Then, again, it’s not about what you think you can do or can’t do, it’s just about figuring out a possible plan of action. What steps need to be taken in order for someone to reach the goal in mind? Thinking in this way, you won’t stop yourself when you have self-doubt, you’ll continue planning because it’s not about your abilities, it’s about finding the most logical course of action. Once you’ve determined what’s needed, you can consider how you might go about accomplishing each step.
Get into a positive mindset.
In general, if you have a tendency to think negatively, you’re likely to limit yourself. As mentioned, you might feel self-conscious and doubt yourself; but you might also just feel like the world is full of dead ends and unsolvable problems and it discourages you from trying to see beyond your limited perspective because you don’t think there are opportunities for you to take advantage of. You don’t see potential anywhere. Before trying to think bigger, just work on trying to think more positively, because that will naturally help you to expand the scope of your thoughts as well as get you into a place to want to pursue whatever sparks your interest. Actively work to find the good around you, big and small. Develop a more positive mindset and, instead of making small plans for yourself, you’ll start thinking of all kinds of things you could do.
If you believe you need to obsess over details to feel secure or to succeed, you’ll be held back from ever thinking really big. Let go! Being analytical can be useful, for sure; paying attention to details can help you organize and plan carefully. But when you take it a step too far into over-analyzing, you can find doubt or a possibility for failure in anything. You can wind up scrapping plans again and again because you’ve analyzed your ideas to the point that nothing seems possible. It can feel like there are too many parts in your plan that you’re not sure will work out. But there will always be difficult patches when pursuing a big idea, whether you’ve overanalyzed or not; you’ll figure it out along the way. It’s good to look out for possible holes in your plans, but if you get so focused on minor issues that you get discouraged or you can’t move forward because you’re preoccupied with them, it’s a problem. Let go and let yourself think as big as you can. When you start developing your ideas you can address real problems as they arise, but don’t let the small stuff stop you from succeeding.
Accept the discomfort of thinking big.
And if you try and try and you still feel uncomfortable with thinking big, you’ll have to learn to accept that feeling. Sometimes the path to success is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Learn to interpret it as a sign that you’re pushing yourself to new places and that it’ll help you become an innovator, a creator, or otherwise highly successful individual. And the more you face the discomfort that can come with thinking bigger than you’re used to or beyond what you believe is realistically possible for yourself, the more comfortable you’ll eventually be with it. What’s the worst that can happen, really? Plans don’t pan out? You try and don’t succeed? So what? It doesn’t mean you’re a complete failure and it doesn’t mean anything negative about you. That’s just life—sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. At least you can say that you tried. Keep moving forward and you’ll be just fine.
The biggest thing preventing big thinking is limited beliefs. There are so many different forms that limited beliefs can come in, whether it’s a belief that you’re incapable or that a task is impossible or that your environment isn’t right for something. Any one of these beliefs alone can hold you back. Overcoming these is the most important part of developing the ability to think bigger. You might find yourself with big dreams and seemingly unrealistic goals—but you’ll never know whether or not you can achieve them if you stop the process in the beginning stages just by limiting your thoughts. Let go of your beliefs and jump in—it’s the only way to really know what’s possible.
Change is a fact of life. Relationships begin and end, and so do jobs. You’ll move from one home to another and maybe to a new city, country, or continent. Sometimes change is due to choice and sometimes it blindsides you in the worst kind of way. You just can’t avoid change, but you can learn to be more adaptable so you can handle it when it comes around. There are plenty of techniques you can use to better cope with change, and there are sure to be at least a few that work for you.
Do something that makes you feel comfortable.
When you’re facing a change that makes you feel nervous or uneasy, do something that makes you feel comfortable, even just for a little while. It could be going out for dinner, working out, or curling up in bed; everyone has some place or some activity that makes them feel safer or happier or somehow better in one way or another. Whatever comforts you, do it. It can be a way to calm yourself for a little while to get yourself ready to think about what’s changing and what you can do to better work through it or it can be an opportunity to feel safe while you do your thinking. Don’t use this to avoid addressing the discomfort you’re feeling though; the idea is to comfort yourself for a short while so that you can better cope with the change, not so that you can ignore it. So make yourself feel safe and comfortable and then work on accepting the situation at hand.
Talk to yourself.
Self-talk is another great method too, and can be used to help you adapt better to just about any situation you’re thrown into. You could also turn to someone you trust to talk to and to help you get through the difficult change you’re experiencing, but if you don’t have anyone around or would rather work through it on your own, you can always talk to yourself. No, it doesn’t have to be out loud—just internal chatter. Tell yourself that everything is going to be okay and it’ll all work out. Tell yourself that you’re strong and you can handle whatever life puts in your path. Depending on the change, you might also tell yourself that it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. Figure out whatever you need to hear to feel better about the situation and what will help you move toward acceptance and tell it to yourself. Self-talk is a powerful tool and it’s easy to use it at any time.
Try to stay positive.
Try not to give in to catastrophic thinking and avoid complaining about whatever is changing. Whining about changes you don’t like can get you stuck seeing the situation negatively and make it difficult for you to adapt. It can also lead you to complain more and more, digging up new reasons to be miserable and leading you into a mindset that sees the whole thing as absolutely unacceptable. This isn’t going to help you in any way; in most cases, hating an experience is only going to keep you from feeling happy and isn’t going to change the things you don’t like. So do your best to stay positive. Look for anything that’s good about your circumstances, even just one thing to start, and focus on it. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones will help you significantly.
Consider the future.
And consider the future, not just the present. When first faced with a major change, it can be really upsetting and throw you into a tailspin. You might not know what to think and your fears surrounding the situation can be overwhelming. But usually when this happens, it’s because you’re concerned with your immediate future—what today, tomorrow, or next week will be like. Shift your focus to next year or a few years from now; maybe losing your job will lead you to something better for you and you’ll build a new career that you find more fulfilling and offers you more financial security; maybe breaking up with your partner will give you the independence and freedom you needed to chase your dreams. As bad as change can feel when it’s new, it could actually have benefits that you can’t see yet or even be a turning point toward greatness. So try to think about what good could be in your future and you’ll find it easier to see the positives in the situation and adapt to it.
Look at things objectively.
Switching to an objective mindset is helpful too. When you can see the circumstances you’re struggling with from a different perspective, it can seem less scary and make it easier for you to adjust to. Disconnecting your feelings from it and looking at it impersonally, observing it without considering your involvement in the situation, can help you see that there are positives there and that the perceived negatives can be overcome. When you’re too intimately involved, it’s all too easy to get upset or worried; distancing yourself for a little while can be just what you need to move past that initial fear and into acceptance. Keep in mind that just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong—in many cases, it’s just life, and you can adapt to it better if you learn to see it this way.
As you can probably tell at this point, the way you think can make adapting easy for you or near impossible. You can choose to think in a way that makes things seem not so bad, in a way that focuses on the bright side, or you could even choose to think big. While positive thinking can be a good way to cope, you can also use it to thrive. Don’t ignore your concerns, fears, and doubts about your circumstances, but instead ask yourself what exactly they are and why you feel the way you do. Figuring out what’s upsetting you about the circumstances you’re in can reveal limiting beliefs you have about yourself. You can then work on eliminating those beliefs and start seeing the potential the situation has for you to grow. How can you use this change to become a better, more successful, happier person? How can you learn from it? Let go of your limitations and imagine how your experience can drive you to do bigger, more amazing things. You’ll feel motivated, and that can be enough to help you adapt and move forward when you’re in the midst of a major change.
Make new plans.
Even once you’ve gotten some of your thoughts sorted out, the situation at hand might still be difficult to wrap your head around. Change can create uncertainty and doing something to create certainty is a good way to combat that. Start making plans; figure out what you can do that would make the situation you’re in more tolerable or easier for you to accept. If you’ve had to move because of a problem with your old apartment, make a list of things you want to do to your new place to make it feel more like home; if you’re moving away from your family, make plans to call or chat at a set time every week. There’s always something you can do to make change easier to adapt to, and planning out what you’re going to do can give you a sense of ease and comfort.
Don’t wait to work on acceptance.
Whatever you’re going to do to help you adapt, whether it’s trying to change your view or actively trying to make yourself more comfortable, don’t wait to do it. Wallowing in frustration, anger, or depression is only going to make you feel awful and prolong the process of moving through the difficult time and on with your life. So take a little time to get upset if you feel you need to get it out of your system, but don’t hold onto it—get on with whatever you’re going to do to help you adjust. The faster you can bring yourself to work through your feelings, the faster you’ll feel better. There’s so much potentially ahead of you: happiness, love, adventure, success, and anything else you choose to pursue. But if you resist change and refuse to accept your new circumstances, you could be holding yourself back from experiencing those things. You can adapt, but you have to choose to move forward instead of hanging back.
So much of adaptation is rooted in acceptance: the acceptance of the situation you’re in, of the experience you’re having, and of what new things might come as a result of change. It’s natural to feel uneasy about change, especially when it’s unexpected, but you can become the kind of person who adapts well by taking advantage of some of these suggestions. Whether you’re facing an unexpected and unwelcome change or have made some choices that will soon put you in unfamiliar territory, you can use these suggestions to help you adjust and find happiness in your new life.
Saving money can be such a challenge, especially when there are so many things we need to pay for on a daily basis. It’s important to remember that, even though we need money in order to live, money isn’t everything. It’s much more important to be healthy and happy. However, money often contributes to our happiness as it equals security. When we fancy a weekend getaway after a stressful week at work, we need money to be able to go. If it’s imperative we get a new laptop for work or our studies, we need money to be able to buy it. If our clothes are falling apart after years of wear and tear – you guessed it – we need money so we can purchase new ones. But, what do you do when you’re working extremely hard to earn your monthly income, and it’s a decent income, but it all seems to be disappearing so quickly? Here are 5 of our best money saving tips to help you get back on the right track.
If you haven’t already, start an Excel spreadsheet where you list all your outgoing bills per month. Work out your total income, after tax, and then deduct all your expenses. This is how much disposable income you have to play with every month, and it’s imperative that you never go over this amount before your next pay cheque. You’re free to spend 90% of it, just make sure you leave 10% as leeway in case of emergencies.
Once you have a good idea of your monthly expenses and how much income is disposable, then you can work out how much you can put aside each month for saving purposes. Whether you’re saving for a specific reason, like a new house, or you want some kind of safety net just in case you ever lose your job – it is smart to save. If you don’t have much disposable income left after your expenses, then don’t feel pressured to save a big amount. It could be as little as $50; basically, it’s just anything you can afford to spare. It soon adds up – for example, that $50 turns into $600 after just one year of saving.
Once you know how much you’re saving every month, open a separate account with your bank where you can keep all this money in one place. This could be an ISA, or even an e-ISA – which can only be managed online. If you separate your savings from your current account, which contains your disposable income, then you will be less tempted to touch it for that new phone you’ve been thinking of getting or that new pair of shoes.
After tracking your expenditure for a couple of months, and putting a set amount of money in your savings account, you can start to track where you’re going wrong spending-wise. Have a look at your disposable income expenditure and identify the key trends as to where you’re spending the most. Is it on clothes? DVD’s? Nights out on the town? Try to cut down your shopping, or drinking, time – or allow yourself a certain budget per month which you are permitted to spend on your vices.
If you are one of these big-spender types, and you’ve identified where you’re going wrong, then the trick is to spend less by shopping around for bargains. If you really want or need that MacBook, then don’t just buy the first one you see. Spend time looking around the shops, as well as online, to get the best deals. Once you’ve done all the research, you can make a well-informed decision and allow the money you’ve budgeted per month for your vices to stretch even further.
Saving money is a lot easier said than done, especially when the cost of living seems to be increasing. However, if you incorporate one, some, or all of these tips to help you with your everyday finances – then you may just find that you’re left with a bit of extra cash in your pocket!
Weight loss is a goal many people have at some point in their lives and there is an abundance of information and diets out there telling you how to achieve this goal. Despite all this information, and what the diet industry would like you to believe, is that weight loss is difficult. Yet at its core, weight loss is simple maths – calories in verses calories out. Today we will look at what calories are, how they work and how you can manipulate them to help you lose weight.
Let’s start by looking at what calories are.
Calories are a measurement of energy. A single calorie, known as a gram calorie, refers to the amount of energy needed to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius.
The calories you are most familiar with are food calories or kilocalories. One food calorie equals 1000 gram calories and is the standard means of measuring the amount of energy in the food you eat. With the exception of water, everything you eat and drink contains calories and these calories provide energy to your body.
The amount of calories in your food is mainly determined by fat, protein and carbohydrates, known as macronutrients. All foods contain one or more of these macronutrients and each one contain a different amount of calories or energy. Carbohydrates and protein each have four calories per gram while fat has nine calories per gram and alcohol has seven calories per gram. In simple terms this means 100 grams of pure protein has 400 calories while 100 grams of pure fat has 900 calories.
When you see the calorie content of your favorite food, what you are seeing is the amount of energy that food will provide based on its unique mixture of fat, protein and carbohydrate.
So how do calories work, now that you know what they are?
Every person needs a certain amount of energy every day for basic human function and to keep their body alive. Calorie intake is an easy way to measure and determine just how much energy you need and to make sure you are getting the right amount.
How much energy or how many calories you need each day depends on your age, gender, height, weight and activity levels. You may have heard others talking about metabolic rate and metabolism. Your metabolic rate and metabolism is the amount of energy your body uses each day to support your heart, lungs, and brain function, to digest food, to exercise and to simply live and complete your daily tasks.
Your resting or basal metabolic rate is the minimum amount of energy you need each day for these functions if you were at complete rest. Because very few people are at complete rest all day, the amount of calories you need takes into account any activity you do, no matter how heavy or light. Extra movement means extra energy to fuel the movement.
So what exactly does this mean?
It simply means that a male of average height and weight who doesn’t do any activity during the day would need less calories or energy than a male of the same height, weight and age who is active all day.
Seems pretty simple right? And it is. Let’s look at it in terms of weight.
Every time you eat or drink, you are taking in energy to fuel your body and every time you exercise or perform an activity, you are using energy. When you take in enough energy or calories each day to meet your body’s needs, your body uses that energy for its daily functions and your weight remains the same.
Remember when I said weight loss was simple maths?
When you take in more calories than you need, your body stores this extra energy and you put on weight. When you take in fewer calories than you need, your body uses its stored energy to make up the difference and you lose weight.
Let’s say you need 2500 calories a day based on your height, weight, age, gender and activity level. If you consume 2500 calories throughout the day, your body receives all the energy it needs and doesn’t need to store or use any extra.
If you were to consume 3000 calories a day instead of 2500 calories, your body will first use those 2500 calories and then store the remaining 500 calories for later use. Many people believe that these extra calories are stored the same way they are received: that fat is stored as fat, protein is stored as muscle and carbohydrate is stored as sugar. This isn’t the case. Your body doesn’t care where the calories come from, just that it has them, so extra calories are stored as energy and lead to weight gain in the form of extra body fat, regardless of the type of calories you ate. Extra energy is extra energy and if your body doesn’t need to use it, it simply stores it.
On the other hand, if you were to eat only 2000 calories a day instead of 2500 calories, your body will use those 2000 calories first and then find the extra 500 calories it needs by releasing some of your stored energy or extra body fat.
Generally, when you are trying to lose weight, the goal is to lose stored body fat. In some cases, your body may burn stored sugar or glycogen first before burning fat and in some extreme cases, it will break down muscle tissue for extra energy. The good news is, you are able to manipulate calories and your body’s stored energy to lose weight and it is easier than you think.
The first thing to remember is that HOW you get your calories is less important that how many you consume. Although the calorie values of macronutrients differ, a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from. If you need 100 calories, your body doesn’t care if it’s 100 calories of protein or fat or sugar, so long as it’s 100 calories.
The second point to remember is to take in fewer calories than you need each day. Even if you only eat 100-200 calories less, you will lose weight over time because your body will be forced to find those extra calories from stored energy.
The third point to know when manipulating calories for weight loss is exercise. Most people focus on low intensity or steady state cardio when trying to lose weight – for example, walking at the same speed or intensity for a long period such as 60% effort for 60 minutes. Now, there is nothing necessarily wrong with exercising this way, you will burn calories but you will only burn them while you exercise.
If you are trying to manipulate calories and burn more stored energy, high intensity exercise is a much better idea. High intensity exercise means exercising at a high intensity level such as 80-90% effort for shorter period of time such as 20-30 minutes.
On the surface, you burn fewer calories because you are exercising for less but high intensity exercise keeps your metabolism raised long after you finish exercising. This means you can continue burning calories for up to 24 hours after your exercise session.
Let’s say a 60 minute walk burns 400 calories. Your heart rate and metabolism are only raised while you are walking and return to normal when you are finished. If you complete 20 minutes of high intensity exercise you might burn 200 calories. After you are finished you heart rate will return to normal but your metabolism stays high. If it stays high for an hour after your session, that’s an extra 600 calories you have continued to burn, bringing your total to 800 calories.
Now if your body needs 2500 calories, and you have only eaten 2000 calories, and then burn 800 calories through exercise, that’s 1300 calories your body needs to take from stored energy. Do this four or five times a week and that’s a lot of stored energy your body is using!
As you can see, the basics of weight loss are simple. Create a calorie deficit either by eating less or exercising and your body is forced to burn stored energy to get the extra calories it needs to meet your daily needs. Best of all, you can choose how you create this deficit and manipulate your calorie needs to lose weight.
When most people think of a tight, toned body, six packs abs is the first thing that comes to mind. And why not? The ‘washboard’ look that a six pack provides has been the symbol of the perfect body since the times of Ancient Rome.
Sadly, most people who try to achieve a six pack fail because sculpting a six pack takes more than a few sit ups each day. Today we will look at what it takes to get a six pack including why you can’t see your abs, the role your diet plays in creating your six pack, the best exercises to sculpt perfect abs and how genetics can affect your results.
Let’s start with your diet. There’s an old saying in the fitness industry that abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym and it’s true. It doesn’t matter how much you work out or how many sit ups you do, if you are carrying extra body fat, you’re never going to have a six pack.
Getting your diet in order and losing weight and body fat is essential if your goal is to have a six pack. And you need to start by working out how many calories you need each day, so you can manipulate them to work in your favour.
There are a lot of online calculators you can use to calculate your daily calorie needs but a good rule of thumb is 1 x body weight in kg x 24 for men and 0.9 x body weight in kg x24 for women. This will give you the minimum number of calories you need, what is known as your resting metabolic rate. If you’re not sure what your weight is in kilograms, simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. Next, add on calories for your activity level. Add 10-20% if you engage in light activity such as an office job, 30-40% for moderate activity such as you stand all day and exercise a few times a week and 40-50% for heavy activity if you exercise at least an hour a day or have a physically active job. For example, if you’re a male and weigh 80kgs (176lbs) and have a moderate to heavy activity level then you multiply 1 x 80 x 24 + 40% for 2690 calories per day.
Now that we have the maths out the way and know how much you need to eat, it’s time to manipulate your calories to lose weight. The best way to encourage weight loss is through a combination of eating fewer calories and exercising more. This will create a calorie deficit that forces your body to burn stored body fat. You can find out more about how this works in my video on how to manipulate calories to lose weight.
The best exercise to encourage weight loss is high intensity interval training. This kind of cardio takes advantage of using high and low intensity exercise to raise your metabolic rate for longer, helping you to burn more calories and fat over the course of the day, rather than just during the exercise session. It may seem a little counter-productive to focus on cardio when you’re trying to get a six pack but unless your body fat levels are low, you’ll never have the look you want.
In addition to reducing your daily calories, it’s a good idea to increase the amount of protein you eat each day. Protein has many jobs in the body including movement, and building and repairing muscle tissue. Many people tend to focus on the amount of carbohydrates they eat but when you are trying to build muscle increasing your protein intake is the way to go.
If you trying to build muscle, it is recommended that you eat between 1.0-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So an 80 kg/176lb male would need between 80 – 120 grams of protein per day to help build bigger abs.
So now you know the best type of cardio for weight loss, how to manipulate your calories and how much protein to eat, it’s time to look at why you can’t see your abs and how to train them so they pop.
One of the biggest complaints people have is that they can’t see their abs despite hours of training and a strict diet. There are a number of reasons why you can’t see your abs but a lack of definition generally comes down to two reasons – one, you have too much body fat and two, your muscles are weak and small.
If your goal is to achieve a six pack, then you must lose weight and lower your body fat levels. Otherwise you’re wasting time training as you’ll never see the results of your efforts.
However if your body fat levels are already low and you still can’t see your abs, then you need to build your muscles so they stand out. The section of muscle you see in a six pack, the part that bulges out, is the muscle belly and if this is small, weak and undefined, then your abs won’t stand out even if your body fat levels are low. To make your abs stand out, you need to train them and increase the size of the muscle belly, especially in your rectus abdominus, the muscle that gives the six pack it look.
Other reasons why you may not see your abs include:
One – you only do one type of ab exercise. To really sculpt your abs you need to work all your ab muscles. This means your rectus abdominus, your external and internal obliques that run along the sides of your waist, and your transverse abdominus which is deep inside your belly and wraps right around your stomach from one side of your back to the other. This is the muscle you feel when you pull your belly button to your spine.
Two – You’re not training hard enough. Your abs are like any other muscle group. You have to train them regularly and correctly if you want to make them bigger. There is a plethora of ab and core exercises out there and you can build an ab workout the same way you would any other workout for your other muscle groups.
Three – You’re training your abs every day. You won’t train your legs or shoulders every day without a rest so why train your abs every day? Training them every day can lead to over training and this results in less definition rather than more.
What you need to remember to create a six pack is this – low body fat levels and defined muscles give you the abs of your dreams.
Let’s talk genetics before moving onto training. Normally genetics are used as an excuse but when you are trying to get a six pack, genetics can affect your results. Sculpting your six pack depends a lot on the size and your muscles and the length of your tendons. Some people are lucky enough to have naturally larger muscles that standout even if they don’t train a lot.
Even if you aren’t blessed with large muscles, you can train them and increase their size. The bigger the muscle belly of your abdominals, the more they will bulge out. But sculpting your six pack isn’t just about how big your abs look, it’s also about how they sit and this is where genetics really plays a part.
The tendons that join muscle to muscle are responsible for how close or apart your muscles sit. Longer tendons leave a large gap between the muscle and shorter tendons bring your muscles closer together.
Sadly there’s not a lot you can do about the size of your tendons but you can at least train your muscles so they stand out and look good. One way to do this is to keep the range of movement small as you perform ab exercises. When you focus on short range movements at high repetitions, you create higher peaks in your muscle belly. This makes them look fatter so they stand out more. Performing short range movements is simple; just squeeze your abs during each exercise. For example, as you do a crunch, really squeeze your abs as you crunch.
Before we get into the best exercises, let’s talk about how you want your six pack to look. Most people want the symmetrical, chiselled look on the statue of David but the truth is, your six pack may look different.
Depending on how you train, your six pack may appear tilted or uneven. If you do a lot of rotational exercises for example your abs may be tilted to your more dominant side. You also need to consider whether you want your six pack to be square or stacked. The stacked look is your more traditional look, where your rectus abdominus is fully developed and each section is stacked neatly on top of the other in a rectangle.
Some people may prefer a more square look where the entire abdomen and waist is defined and looks like a square filled with tightly defined boxes. You can achieve this kind of look by over defining your obliques to fill in the sides of your waist.
Now for the information you’ve been waiting for –the best exercises to build a six pack. But first a few tips on training.
One – treat your abs like any other muscle group. Plan your workouts and aim to do a full ab workout twice a week.
Two – compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts and overhead press all engage your abs so be sure to keep your abs strong by pulling your belly button to your spine when you perform these exercises.
Three – make sure you include some high intensity training once or twice a week to help keep your body fat levels low.
Four – work every part of your abs and don’t forget your back. You need to work your transverse abdominus, obliques and rectus abdominus if you want to get a six pack.
The following nine exercises are the best for developing your entire abdominal section and building the six pack of your dreams. Always keep your abs strong and remember to breathe as you work out. The best exercises for building a six pack are:
No matter where you are starting from, it is possible to get a six pack and have the abs of your dreams. Plan your diet to encourage fat loss, increase your protein intake, train your abs correctly, and you’ll have abs others envy in no time.
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