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    Working with a diverse group of people, in challenging situations can sometimes take a toll on the health and performance of staff. Sigma Mindset works with Human Service organisations within a resilience framework to strengthen, support and help maintain peak performance and health.

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    It can always be difficult finding exactly the right speaker for your upcoming important event. Sigma Mindset provides presentations and keynotes that teach, inspire and elevate audiences to new levels of achievement. We believe the audience should walk away with an authentic experience and practical tools for life application.

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    Learning should, can and is fun. With this in mind, Sigma Mindset workshops are designed for the overall adult learning experience. Participants come away from workshops equipped, prepared and motivated to continue to tackle any necessary change.

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Archive for the "life coaching" Category

Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss

Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by julie

Is Stress Making You Fat?

Cultivating a Healthy Relationship Between You and Food

Part B

Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss

mindset

Have you heard the saying: “we are what we think”? Well it is just as true when it comes to our health, weight and our relationship with food.

Emotions are often a result of beliefs and it is strong emotions that trigger stress hormones like cortisol that we have already spoken so much about.

Beliefs are thoughts accepted as being true facts (e.g.: eating is my only way of coping with loneliness and sadness). They lead our behaviours in an automatic manner – they are the autopilot in our brain, held at a subconscious level.

Beliefs are determined by external stimuli, by experiences, events or situations we encounter (e.g.: being constantly neglected and feeling better only when eating).

In other words:

             situations lead to thoughts and beliefs

             thoughts and beliefs lead to emotional responses

             emotions lead to behaviours

             behaviours lead to habits and

             habits lead to visible results

Habits are behaviours which have been done so regularly that get to be performed without thinking, without requiring active attention

Now the really good news here is that this line of natural progress from our thinking to our eating habits and weight is totally controlled by us! Yes, totally! 

What result do you want?

Are you getting it? If not then follow the arrows above to find out where you blockage is

The real cause of your weight gain is your mindset. But, what does Mindset actually mean?

Mindset:

    * Is a fixed mental attitude

    * Is an inclination to do something in a habitual manner

    * Is formed as a result of experience, education and to some point personality

    * It Includes thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions and habits

    * It incorporates your beliefs about yourself and how you interact with your world

    * It determines how you will interpret and respond to situations and this response is automatic

What does this mean for you?

Your current weight is the result of your mindset.  If you are eating on autopilot and not happy with the results then the key is to turn off the autopilot and become super aware of what you are thinking and doing

The great news is that self defeating or self sabotaging beliefs can not only be learnt – they can be changed. If you really want to achieve a weight loss mindset but much more importantly a mindset of health and energy, then change your beliefs

KEY POINT

Let me say something here that I believe is very important for your success: always work from a focus of strength and positivity rather than weakness and negativity. I know it is “popular” to talk in terms of weight loss but you are really not doing yourself any favours here.  For the best results, choose a healthy, energetic mindset over a weight loss mindset.  The former will last you for a life time, the latter will last until you have dropped the weight

Ways to Cultivate a Healthy, Stress Free Relationship with Food

Food is a source of not only sustenance and nutrition but also it is a source of great pleasure. These two things definitely need to be part of the equation for a healthy relationship with food. What we are aiming for is to not use food for things it was not intended for, for example, comfort, stress reduction, to hide behind or medicate our pain

Here are some ways to help cultivate a healthy and stress free relationship with food:

             Build a strong support network where you can be comforted, supported and listened to when you have a problem rather than resorting to food. Of course, you can gain support in a number of different ways, for example, face to face, online, over the phone, with friends, a support group, or a professional

             Choose exercise to alleviate tension rather than food. Make the exercise preventative by exercising regularly on most days. The best exercise for cultivating positive chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins is cardiovascular so a 30 to 40 minute walk each day is a great start. This form of exercise also helps to regulate that nasty fat producing cortisol and hopefully will help you sleep better.

             Practice regular meditation and relaxation – a time where you are in the moment, focused on yourself and tuned out to the stress and problems in your life. Get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep well when you’re stressed, that may have an impact on your weight loss efforts, too. (Research has shown there may be a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain.) Practicing relaxation before bed can help with a restful night’s sleep

             Keep a food diary. Tracking what you eat and how you feel about what you eat is an amazing tool for changing bad habits into good habits. You spend so much time on everything else – why wouldn’t you give a little bit of your time each day to developing a healthy relationship and habits with food. Remember, raising self awareness is one of the most powerful things you can do

             Monitor your reactions to stress. Maybe an honest look at your stress reactions will show you that you are overreacting to some situations. Try to put things into perspective – are they really that bad? Learn to let go of what will not have any importance to you in a few months time. If the situation is important then sit down and work out a written strategy to deal with it

             Recognize the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle tension. Your diary will help you with this but then it is important to use a better coping technique than food

             Have a routine with food. Learn to control food and when and what you eat rather than it controlling you. Who really is the boss here?

             Believe it or not, the first function of food is not pleasure. It is energy and nutrition to keep our amazing systems functioning on optimum. By all means enjoy food but when you are able to ask yourself, “Will this food nourish and energize my body?” maybe you will find it easier to say no to food that is actually destroying your miraculous system

One last point I want to make here is that food affects our mental health as well as our physical health.  The wrong foods or excess amounts can bring us depression, low motivation, instability, lack of focus etc.  In other words, the wrong foods can themselves cause stress. Nutritious foods can bring us joy, energy, clarity, hope, passion and excitement. If you are having mental health issues as well as physical health issues, seriously consider a healthy lifestyle

Julie Spain

 If you would like further help in changing your mindset once and for all or a copy of my ebook “Change Your Habits: Change Your Life”, simply send me an email at julie@sigmamindset.com or ph 0430186415.

Julie Spain is the Owner of Sigma Mindset and a Life and Leadership Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker to Executives, Professionals and Business Owners.  Julie specializes in strategic mindset coaching that: Makes a Difference and Makes It Quick

 

 

Is Stress Making You Fat? Cultivating a Healthy Relationship Between You and Food

Posted on July 29th, 2013 by julie

Part A:

How Does Stress Affect Weight Gain?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image15995331

We are all aware of the relationships that we have with other people in our lives, but how aware are you of the relationships going on within yourself. We are made up of mind, body and spirit and each of these parts are connected and have a relationship with each other. If this relationship is not balanced and healthy, weight gain and ill health can be the result.

When it comes to our weight, all of the above are important considerations.  Part B of this article will focus on the psychological – how we think and feel.  Part A will help us to understand how everything we think and feel is transferred into hormones and chemicals and these have a direct affect on us physiologically

So, let’s first ask the question:

Is Stress Making You Fat?

8-things-making-you-fat-08-sl

Most people admit that when they’re under stress, healthy eating habits can be difficult to maintain. Whether eating to fill an emotional need or grabbing fast food simply because there’s no time to prepare something healthy, a stressed-out lifestyle is rarely a healthy one. But weight gain when under stress, according to some researchers, may also be at least partly due to the body’s system of hormonal checks and balances, which can actually promote weight gain when you’re stressed out

There are several ways in which stress can contribute to weight gain. When we’re under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered in our bodies, leading to the release of various hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.  The hypothalamus directs the adrenal glands to secret these very important hormones

Cortisol has been termed the “stress hormone” because excess cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy (for when we are threatened), stimulates insulin release, increases blood pressure, suppresses the immune system (this is essential for the flight and fight response) and increases blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite

Adrenaline is vital to increase your alertness and energy levels during times of threat. Cortisol works to also increase energy by increasing the production of glucose from protein

Cortisol, however, has another purpose. After stress, adrenaline tends to dissipate but cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance. Now here is the clincher- one of the ways cortisol works to get our system back into balance is to increase our appetite so we can replace the carbohydrate and fat that we should have used if under a fight and flight situation

Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Stanford University states, if stress and cortisol levels stay high, so will insulin levels. This continual stress leads to a constant state of excess cortisol production, which stimulates glucose production. This excess glucose then typically is converted into fat, ending up as stored fat.

Cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight. Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat to be deposited on the abdominal area. This is sometimes called “toxic fat” since abdominal fat is strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes.

Ok, I know that is a lot of science but I think it is essential to understand the biochemistry of stress and how this is thought to contribute to weight gain.

It is important to remember that the production of adrenaline and cortisol are essential to the stress response and hence to our survival. The issue for us today is that the modern stress response has more to do with overload and busyness than with running from a lion. This means that we do not utilize these hormones in the way they were intended and yes, stress can make us sick and possibly fat.

So How Does Stress Affect Weight Gain?

I often tell my clients that self awareness is the first key to resolving your problems. As you read these points, take note of which ones are relevant to you. Meditate and/or journal on them.

Cortisol Cravings

Among other things, high levels of cortisol can create cravings for salty and sweet foods. In previous centuries, this enabled people to bulk up on foods that would sustain them during times when food is scarce; however, in modern times and industrialized nations, when food is rarely scarce, this really is necessary and can cause excess weight gain

Social Eating

Socializing is about having fun and of course this means eating and drinking. When upset we often seek out friends and go and have a drink or some comfort food to help us feel better. Have you noticed how friends love to feed you when you are upset?

Nervous Energy

When stressed or anxious, many people want to fidget with their mouths. Sometimes this leads to nail biting or teeth grinding, and often it leads to eating when not hungry. Many people, out of nervousness or boredom, just munch on comfort food to give their mouths something to do.  This is also very similar to many smokers

Childhood Habits

Many of us have comforting childhood memories that revolve around food. Food was used to celebrate, feel better, be rewarded and even to punish. As adults, when we find ourselves in similar positions we often revert back to how this was handled as a child.  What are some childhood food habits that you think are not working for you as an adult?

Avoiding  Emotions

Another reason that many people eat is to quiet uncomfortable emotions. People who are uncomfortable with confrontation may deal with frustrations in their marriage with a piece of cake, for example, rather than with open communication. Food can take the focus off of anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, and a host of other emotions we’d sometimes rather not feel, and is often used for this purpose. Just watch a romance movie and see how the heroine always turns to a bucket of ice cream. I call it using food to medicate our pain

Slows Down Our Metabolism

Besides all the things we discussed above about cortisol, it can also slow down your metabolism and when you combine this with stress stimulating your appetite you have a double whammy for weight gain

Pleasure Cravings

When under stress, people do not usually reach for a nice healthy salad. We tend to crave foods that are fatty, salty or sugary (maybe even all of them). These are what we would call comfort foods

Blood Sugar

Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia.  Hyperglycemia is our body’s way of telling us we need to put some food into our system to increase our energy supply. Of course this may not really be true just confused messages from your blood sugar levels caused by stress

Fat Storage

Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is linked with greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body.

Too Busy to Exercise

With all the demands on your schedule, exercise may be one of the last things on your to-do list. If so, you’re not alone. We live a more sedentary lifestyle than we have in past generations, yet our minds seem to be racing from everything we have to do. Unfortunately, from sitting in traffic, clocking hours at our desks, and plopping in front of the TV in exhaustion at the end of the day, exercise often goes by the wayside.

Stay tuned for Part B of this article: “Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss”

 Julie Spain

If you would like further help in changing your mindset once and for all or a copy of my ebook “Change Your Habits: Change Your Life”, simply send me an email at julie@sigmamindset.com

Julie Spain is the Owner of Sigma Mindset and a Life and Leadership Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker to Executives, Professionals and Business Owners.  Julie specializes in strategic mindset coaching that: Makes a Difference and Makes It Quick

Care of the Carer: Preventing Burnout and Maintaining Performance

Posted on April 10th, 2013 by julie

Are you in the Human Service Industry?  Do you care for your fellow man in some way? Professions such as, firefighter, police, ambulance officer, nurse, doctor, mental health professional, aged and disability care all fall under these categories

Let me say straight out: these are special people. They give and give and give and often they give more than they really have to give which sometimes leaves them burnout.

Now “burnout” is a term that has been around a very long time (since the 1970’s) and as often happens, we become desensitized to commonly used terms and often brush them off particularly if it applies to us. But I can tell you burnout is alive and well in the workplace (and it is not solely the ownership of the caring professions but for the purpose of this article that is what I am talking about today)

When I was in private practice, I would sometimes see up to eight clients a day for counselling. I always said it was like sitting an eight hour exam but it just kept on going day after day, week after week. One week, I worked with two women who had been raped. At this time of my life I had 3 young children and had become an expert in not taking my work home. But this week was different. I found myself thinking about the sad situations of these lovely young women. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was burnout and if I was suffering in this way my performance was as a consequence compromised

So What is Burnout?

According to Wikipedia, “burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest.”

Maslach and her colleague Jackson first identified the construct “burnout” in the 1970s, and developed a measure, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, that weighs the effects of emotional exhaustion and reduced sense of personal accomplishment

Maslach and her colleague, Michael Leiter, defined the antithesis of burnout as, engagement, characterized by energy, involvement and efficacy, as opposed to burnout which is characterised by exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy

This in turn can affect job performance, physical health, mental health and relationships

As you can see, it would be much easier to prevent burnout rather than try to repair it

So let’s have a look at:

10 Steps to Prevent Burnout and Maintain Effective Performance Within the Helping Professions:

1.       Watch for your personal warning signs –

Your unique radar that tells you something is wrong within you system. This can be physical, behavioural, mental, emotional or relational. The sooner you catch these signs the better as the longer you let it progress the greater the possibility that your self awareness will diminish. It is common to have others pointing out the changes within you while you are busy denying these changes

2.       Know and implement your personal and professional boundaries

Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated by others or simply to protect ourselves from a busy work and life schedule.  They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

It would not be possible to enjoy health, peak performance and healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others.

To learn more about this important topic read my blog:

“Organisational Skills for Busy Professionals: Developing Personal Boundaries in the Workplace That Save Time, Energy, Money and Relationships”

3.       Develop cultural intelligence

Here cultural intelligence refers to both the organisational culture you work within and the various ethnic and socio economic groups you work with.  Culture is always about “the way we do things around here”.  If you are at odds or incongruent with the culture you find yourself working within, it will take a toll on your mindset and wellbeing. We need sensitivity and the ability to adapt our behaviour to perform effectively while still being true to our own values and identity

4.        Understand your professional identity

This can be particularly difficult if you are new to your profession. It does take time and experience to develop. My suggestion would be to put it on your awareness radar and make it part of your professional agenda to pursue this.  Understanding and then being true to your professional identity will allow you to stand with feet firmly planted when the storms come to blow and blow they will

5.       Have a clear role definition

This is clearly linked to your professional identity but role definition translates more into what you do rather than how you see yourself.  Role definition gives clarity and with that comes confidence and assurance. Are you trying to be all things to all people? Of course this is not possible and simple revisiting your role may clear this up

 6.       Have both a preventative and crisis stress management strategy

Yes, they are different! Self care is truly about putting into yourself on a regular basis so you actually have something to give out. Crisis management is for those unexpected times that life and work can throw at us

For more on the topic of self care have a look at my blog:

“Achieving Work/Life Balance: The Secrets to Vitality and Success”

7.       Build your resilience

Resilience is a wonderful term that at its most basic means: “bouncing back when the going gets tough”.  Let’s face it, work and life does not always go the way we want it too. When times get tough, the question is always: “which road should I take, the road to being overwhelmed or the road to bouncing back?”

If you are interested in increasing your resilience skills then you may like to read my ebook:

“Thriving Not Just Surviving a Life Crisis: How to Bounce Back and Find Happiness Again”

8.       Monitor your self confidence and self esteem

When our self belief is down, our confidence goes down. When our confidence is down it is more difficult to make decisions, enjoy life, communicate our needs and protect yourself. Do a quick confidence check every so often just to know that you are on track

9.       Know your limits and your strengths

Knowing your professional limits will protect both yourself and your client. You cannot be all things to all people and you do not need to be.  Knowing your strengths allows you to give the best of yourself to others. If you are not sure about these things then ask a trusted colleague or your professional coach or supervisor

10.   Regular supervision or coaching

The helping professions can be lonely and taxing. When you make a mistake, it can have grave consequences for your client and most of us take this very seriously.  We need the opportunity to debrief after events and strategize before certain situations. Coaching or supervision gives you someone to bounce off, to give you another perspective, to learn from, to download with. Why wouldn’t you cultivate this very important relationship?

You may be wondering what I did when faced with burnout in my personal story that I shared previously?  Well I took rather drastic action and downsized my private practice. I knew myself and knew the warning signs were severe for me. My non negotiable was taking work home and I was determined to protect my family from my work. As life would have it, taking care of myself and my family led to other amazing career opportunities

If you would like further help for yourself or your organisation or to attend my upcoming course see below:

CARE OF THE CARER: PREVENTING BURNOUT AND MAINTAINING PERFORMANCE

  • Personal and professional boundaries
  • Preventing vicarious trauma
  • Role definition and professional identity
  • Knowing your limits: Know your  strengths, manage your weaknesses
  • Resilience Building
  • Preventing burnout

 Just email me for further information at julie@sigmamindset.com  or phone 0430186415

Until next time

Julie Spain

 

 

 

Don’t Just Run the Race, Run the Race to Win

Posted on March 20th, 2012 by julie

Recently, I read something that made me think about the challenge of winning or in other words, achieving success:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize”

1 Corinthians 9:24

I really related to this quote and the fact that I just did not want to be involved in running the race, I actually wanted to get the prize when it comes to being successful with my business. I started to think about what winners actually do to win and soon realized that all of these things were applicable to success with my business Sigma Mindset.

If you want to be successful in your career or business, then you need to follow all of the success keys below:

1. Train hard.  We must put the effort in. Practice, practice and then practice some more to perfect the skills. I just learnt recently, that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be truly good at something.

2. Take time to understand and respect your competition. You are not an island. You are actually competing against others for the coverted prize. Study and learn from your opposition. Learn to do things different and better.

3. Never give up. Winston Churchill said it beautifully: “We will never, never, never…………..give up”. The major point is that he said “never” for 30 mins. I think he made his point.

4. Practice discipline and routine. First decide what routine you will need to achieve your dreams. Then of course repeat it – over and over again. It only takes 28 days to establish (or break) a habit, so why not establish great habits that will lead you to exactly where you want to go

5. Focus, Focus, Focus. It is so easy to be distracted by 1000’s of other things in your life. By all means, enjoy life to the best of your ability but discipline yourself that at certain times you will be totally focused on the tasks required to win the prize you are chasing. Without focus you will just spend a lot of time getting nowhere in particular. Ask yourself right now, “What are the top 3 things I want to focus on this year?” Then let nothing distract you

6. Sacrifice. Oops! Not really a well loved term today. We need to sacrifice now so we can enjoy the fruits of the prize later. The athlete who gets up to train at 4 and 5am would probably much rather have a couple of hours extra sleep but when they stand on the podium to win their prize, all the sacrifice is forgotten in the joy of the win. We need to sacrifice of our time, energy and resources.

7. Prioritize. Does anyone else have trouble with this? Sometimes we try so hard to prioritize what we believe to be important but still get it wrong. 5 years, 10, 20 years of hard work goes by and we still are not where we want to be. Stephen Covey tells us we spend 80% of our time working on things that are really only 20% important to us. Get hold of a journal and spend some time deciding on what is important to you and then start to prioritize. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in a much shorter period of time.

8. Dream.  Dreams keep us alive. They get us up in the morning with renewed vitality and motivation to tackle the day with purpose. My husband and I have a dream book. In it we write the things that we want to achieve. Some are small and personal such as dancing lessons, others are large and long term such as a successful business to create passive income. Write everything you have dreamed of – no judgements. It will surprise you what is really in your heart

9. Never lose sight of the goal. This can be difficult when you are seeing few results. Keep coming back to your dream book. Remember why you embarked on this journey.

10. Build a good support team around you. The athlete has the coach and the physio to name just a few. You will need a mentor or coach if your goal is to move forward with your career or business

11. Understand your personal roadblocks, obstacles and weaknesses. They say that 90% of the battle is in the mind. Get the mind in order and you are nearly there.

12. Educate yourself about the process, skills and techniques that you will need on the journey so you will reach your career and business goals

13. Remember to take care of your main tool – yourself. No one else is going to do this and if you burn out or go off the rails then your dreams of winning the prize will never be realized.

If you would like to chat about how I can help you with any of the above, just give me a call on 0430186415 or email me at  julie@sigmamindset.com

Until next time

Julie Spain

Life and Leadership Strategic Coach for Executives, Professionals and Business Owners