Archive for August, 2008

100% Success trial – Day 6

August 29, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Earlier in this experiment, I was worried that I wouldn’t stretch my limits by doing this. What is actually happening is that I am increasing some of the tasks I set myself to do, with the confidence that I will be able to achieve them. For example, I’ve increased the number of words of fiction I should write a day, because now 100 doesn’t seem enough.

***

I’m spending some time with friends down in the South of France, and I have learned one thing yesterday: it’s perfectly fine to party, but start partying after you’ve finished your work! It was harder to complete what I set myself to do!

100% Success trial – Day 5

August 28, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

Not much to report on this day, apart from a couple of facts.

First of all, this method has allowed me to be disciplined all day about the Paul McKenna principles of eating, and I am trimming down at lightening speed, which makes me think that I will have to do an update post in a while.

Second, I’ve talked to more people about this trial and everybody thinks it’s a great idea!

All I can say is that this trial has made me so much more relaxed about life and challenges in general… Granted it’s only been a week, but it just looks VERY promising. More promising than any motivation peaks I’ve experienced.I’ve felt like a total winner this past week, so obviously my feelings towards myself are so much more positive than they were on day 1.

25 more days to go!

Guest Blogger: “What is physical Fitness?” by Matt Johnson.

August 28, 2008

This week, I was asked to write a short article on my Paul McKenna experiment, and in return, I got some valuable health advice for people looking to trim down… So here we go: Matt Johnson is the certified fitness expert at DietsInReview.com, where you’ll find his fitness guidance in the Diet Blog and newsletter. The site also provides more than diet reviews: weight loss tools, health news and advice.

Exercise today is becoming more and more popular and knowing where to start is vital. I feel that understanding exercise is the first step. Physical Fitness (exercising) consists of five basic components and each of which is very important to the entire exercise process. These five concepts involve the heart, lungs, strength, endurance, and flexibility as well.

First, cardio involves the heart and lungs and allows the heart to become stronger while pumping blood throughout the body. Second, endurance consists of how long or how many repetitions your body can handle before fatiguing. Third, strength involves exerting maximum force one time. For example, maxing out or lifting a very heavy weight. Fourth, Flexibility consists of joint range of motion and muscle elasticity. Lastly, Body Composition involves proportions of lean mass to fat tissue. This is not weight, but just a percentage of body fat that is located on the body.

A good and effective work-out will incorporate all five of the components listed above. I have designed a twenty minute work-out that can be performed at home or at the gym that targets all five components. Although maxing out is not incorporated; muscular strength is being targeted throughout the work-out.

Warm-up

Ball Squats: 2 sets of 20

Ball Crunches: 2 sets of 30

(Crunch on stability ball with arms behind head – click on image to view this exercise)

Push-ups: 2 sets of 20 or failure (do as many as you can)

(click on image to view this exercise)

Step-ups: 2 sets of 15-20 (ex: stairs, bench or chair)

(Alternating dumbbell step up on bench – click on image to view this exercise)

Seated shoulder press with dumbbell or weighted object: 2 sets of 20

(Dumbbell shoulder press with overhand grip – click on image to view this exercise)

Hip abduction: 2 sets of 20

(Bent arm side bridge and hip abduction – click to view this exercise)

Crunches: 2 sets of 50

Lower abs: 2 sets of 20

(Lying on back straight leg raise – click to view image)

Cool Down

Stretch: hold each stretch for a 10-15 count

100% Success trial – Day 4

August 28, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

I did it again, I just can’t help it… I spoke about this experiment to a friend and to my father. There was a side of me that wanted to keep it secret for a month, to see if it produces great results, but another side couldn’t wait to share the excitement with the people who are close to me, as truly, I have never felt as productive and relaxed than the past 5 days.

Two years ago, I decided to organize my work according to a producticity system called “Getting Things Done” (GTD) It took me about 24 hours of work to implement it in my life (that’s how disorganised I was), but now that I have adopted it, I would never go back. But, although I admire the GTD process to handle the work flow, it hasn’t allowed me to achieve outstanding results, because some tasks were not concrete enough, or were not attainable.

With this 100% success trial, I’m still using GTD, but all I’ve done was to replace each task with something I am sure I can succeed.

New questions have started to arise in my mind; it feels that right now, the system is very short term, i.e. it deals with the success of short small tasks- but what about mid- and long-term projects? How do I engage in a longer term project and formulate it to myself in a way that I am guaranteed success? Let me explain. Right now, a lot of my small tasks consist in researching companies that interest me, contacting recruiters, preparing for interviews. Obsviously, the longer term project of all this is to find a job that I enjoy. But I am not guaranteed success in this… I mean after all, it doesn’t entirely depend on me. It depends on the appreciation of a third person, and as soon as a third person comes into the picture, there is a loss of total control factor. The idea is: how can I formulate to myself what I am doing at the moment as a positive and success-sure/failure-proof objective?

Another example is that I started to learn verses of a French play. My dream, my goal, is to know the entire play by heart. How to make sure that I bring this project to completion with my system… I mean, I am sure that on any given day, I can learn at least two verses, if not more, but I am not sure, at the moment, that I will have the tenacity and discipline to carry this project to completion.

Finally, I am bound to have an interview in the coming days. There is a chance that the interviewer likes me and there is a chance that he doesn’t. In the second case, it will be the end of my possibility of getting a job at this specific company. But I don’t want to view this as a failure. First of all, the miss rate in job search is always a part of the game and is inevitable to happen to some people. So what could be my task, my goal at the interview, that would bring me success if completed regardless of the outcome?

To be continued 🙂

100% Success trial – Day 3

August 26, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

So far so good ! I am really enjoying this 100% success trial, and I think I may be seeing some signs that indeed, « success brings success ».

I’ll give you a few examples. Among the many projects that I have, one is to write a big piece of fiction, be it a script or a novel… Will I succeed in finishing it? Will I succeed in selling it? Will the book succeed to be entertaining to its audience? I don’t know… there is no way I can know today. So the first day of the trial, I thought: what task could I do to make sure that I succeed it. And I decided to settle for the task: “write 100 words of fiction”. Easy, that one I know I can succeed. On day 2, I start the same task… and suddenly the inspiration kicked in, I ended up writing 2 pages!!

I mentioned yesterday that I have to write a speech. Actually, I am in a group and we have to build a speech together… each of us has to write their own bit. This is a speech for a wedding. Using a no-failure technique, I said to myself: “I will concentrate and work on the speech for ½ hour”. Easy! how can you fail that? I did it on days 2 and 3. End of day 3, I was satisfied with the first draft of my speech, I sent it to the other, and they had great feedback! (with only 1 hour of work!)

How can I explain this? I don’t know… I think that adopting a mindset where there is no possible failure (how can I NOT work on something for 30 minutes??) it makes me much more relaxed and confident that I can loosen up and let go of my creativity. I mean creativity in the larger sense: not only imagination, but my ability to produce.

Speaking of productivity, I have been able these past two days to work for hours straight without feeling too much pain. On a couple of occasion, I had to tell myself “come on! You know you can succeed this” in order to get myself going, but apart from that, it’s been rather enjoyable to work.

Among other achievements, I have been able to submit an application for a job I really want (was afraid to even start), finally finish drafting a home page for a website I’m working on (a task I had put aside for weeks!), learn 18 verses of French classic theatre, go for drinks with my friends, do a bit of physical activity, maintain 100% discipline with following the Paul McKenna eating principles, network for potential jobs… Not so bad for only 3 days… We’ll see if the trend continues that way!!

100% Success trial – Day 2

August 25, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

On this second day, I used this 100% success trial to build my self discipline. Let me explain. In the last trial, I mentioned that I had self-discipline issues, which impaired my ability to follow the Paul McKenna rules completely. So when I woke up, I thought: “today I’m going to follow these rules without failing”, but I wasn’t even convinced myself that I could succeed in this. So I thought, what is a goal that I am sure to have success in? and came up with the following: “until 9:30 am, I will only eat if I am hungry, and if I do eat, I will follow the recommendations of McKenna.” It was 9:00 am, so I was sure that I could succeed in observing the rules for only half an hour! After those 30 minutes, I thought, well, I guess I could try and observe the rules for another 30 minutes… etc etc. I increased the intervals to 45 minutes, then 1 hour, and I managed to observe the rules for the entire day ! Why? Because in my mind, I know I can be disciplined for 30, 45 or 60 minutes and therefore I put myself in the conditions of success… As I write, I only have to observe the McKenna rules for 30 minutes.

I have also started to re-phrase some goals or tasks I used to set. For example, I have this speech to write that’s due in two weeks; in my mind, I have a vision of what I would love the final result to be, but that vision is almost too daunting to start working on it… I already tried to fight that fear by having a task saying “Start writing speech”, but that was two imprecise, and I didn’t know what success meant in that task. So I rephrased it and wrote: “Spend a 1/2 hour writing the speech.” That’s easy and precise for me. Success is attained if I am able to concentrate for 30 minutes and write whatever ideas come to mind. As a result, those 30 minutes were very productive and I came up with a lot of ideas. The speech is not finished, but I have a lot to work with already, when I do spend another 30 min working on it today.

The good thing with these little units of time is that I can always add another one if I feel like working more, but I can also decide to not add a new one if I am bored with the bigger project. In both cases, there is no failure, just success in the little tasks that I decide.

On a side note, my pec muscles are really hurting from the push ups… I guess I’ve never done that many push ups in my life!

100% Success trial – Day 1

August 24, 2008

For 30 days, I have decided to only undertake tasks that I know I can successfully accomplish, in order to bring success in my life, and see if the common sense saying: “Success breeds more success” is true.

I think that if there are great results to be seen from this experiment, they will happen after 7-10 days. It’s a completely arbitrary figure and I’m open to great results even earlier.

So for this first day, I will just list the types of action I’ve decided to take, and that I have accomplished.

Let me start about how I chose some of the taks I did. While I was during my past Paul McKenna trial, I’ve made a clear decision to have happiness at the core of my life and I started to wonder about the things that could help me reach this state of mind. I came up with a list that comprise all the things happen in a happy day for me. These are:

  • Making money
  • Artistic contribution to the world
  • Learning new things
  • Discover other people’s art
  • Lead a healthy life
  • Socialize with other people

This list may change in the future, but right now, this is my idea of happiness. So I thought to myself: for these categories, what task could I take that would be easily accomplished that that would be a small step towards the goal, even if it is a baby step? Then, after that, all day to day tasks that adds up to the original plan and that must be carried out.

I had a limited time (and also the day after), as I was due to leave my house at 2 pm in order to go to a wedding. Here are some tasks I accomplished and their results:

Do 20 push ups OK
Do 50 crunches OK
Do push ups until failure OK
Do crunches until failure NO Did sit ups until bordeom
Do crunches until failure OK
Learn 2 lines of classic French play OK
Revise one page of German Voc NO Did not have time
Post new 30 trial voc OK
Call mum OK
Call dad OK
Post an important letter OK
Buy Mobicarte OK

So that’s the idea: micro-tasks that ensure an almost 100% sucess rate. After micro-finance, I introduce a new concept: micro-success! 🙂

100% Success trial – Day 0

August 23, 2008

As I am in a period of my life where I could do with having some success (I feel more like a failure at the moment), I have decided that I will bring success into my life by attempting this 100% success 30-day trial. Let me explain: for 30 days, I will attempt and do things that I am sure to succeed. You could dubb it “baby success steps”. I will not attempt incommensurable tasks. It doesn’t mean that I won’t do part of a bigger task, but instead of telling myself: “I’ve got to write a book”, it will be: “I will attempt to write one paragraph of a book”. Nothing prevents me from doing this more than once a day, so I maybe I will have many paragraphs at the end of the day… but the point is, I will only attempt tasks that I know I can succeed.

I’ve got three reasons for trying this:

  • first of all, I want to test the common sense belief: “success breeds success”. If I introduce a lot of success seeds into my life, will they all bloom and bring a lot more success? Will starting with baby steps provoke an exponential phenomenon of success creation, thus making me encounter success I never thought possible?
  • second, I think it may help me be in the mindset of thinking in terms of attainable goals. I have all these dreams, all these things I want to accomplish, but they are just distant ideas at the moment, I don’t see them as attainable in the short/mid-term. So maybe if I train myself to set goals so that they will be achieved, I will be able to find the path to achieve those bigger goals that seem so far away at the moment.
  • finally, as I said, I could do with a confidence boost. In my previous trial, I said that I only knew one thing for sure: I want to be happy. And I think that my happiness can benefit from introducing this sum of little achievements-

So, I have some pre-conceived ideas of what this trial could bring, but I guess there is only one way to find out if those ideas are true… Try it for 30 days!

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” Review – Concluding thoughts

August 21, 2008

This is my first attempt to follow the Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”‘ principles. This attempt didn’t succeed. I tried again in March 2009, and this time it worked. If you want to read the successful trial, click here.

***

The purpose of this trial was to see if the method of Paul McKenna is efficient and if I want to continue using it after the 30 days.

The verdict, which is the answer of the 2nd question, is: yes, I will continue not dieting. I will continue feeling good about the things that I eat and not bring guilt, food control, portion control into my days. I will check back in a month from now if it’s still working for me, but for the moment, I will not go back on a diet.

To answer the first question, the method is efficient to a certain extent. Scale wise, I’ve lost 3 kilos in a month, which is not bad. I believe that if you actually stop eating when you feel full, you will loose weight. But Paul McKenna claims that reading his book, plus listening to his hyptonic induction tape will make you follow that rule.

First of all, a lot of overweight people don’t even know what the actual feeling of hunger is, because they don’t even allow it to happen, as they constantly stuff themselves with food. I wouldn’t know what the feeling of hunger is if I hadn’t been on a diet before. The purpose is to free oneself from diets and a preliminary diet is almost necessary to experience the feeling of hunger.

Second, I did not feel compelled to strictly follow the rules, despite my listening to the hypnotic induction. A few years ago, I stopped smoking by reading a book called “Easy way to stop smoking” by Allen Carr, and immediately after finishing the book, I felt compelled to start my life as a non-smoker (and haven’t touched a cigarette since). For some reason, Paul McKenna doesn’t achieve this performance in his book/tape. I didn’t feel an irresistible force to lead a healthy lifestyle after being exposed to his ideas.

Paul McKenna recommends using visualization of the thin self, in order to achieve that goal. I think he doesn’t push or help the reader enough in that visualization. It is very superficial, something like: “imagine yourself as thin, imagine how you feel in that body, imagine how you move”. To me, it’s not enough. Unhealthy people face a lot of challenges to overcome, and McKenna almost ignores those challenges (although he gives a relaxation exercize and say you shouldn’t not emotionally eat). A book like the Allen Carr one actually went into every possible situation someone may be tempted to smoke and gave the appropriate reaction to adopt in order to not smoke. To me, that’s real visualization of the future self because it goes into precise details of how a non-smoking person should react. Maybe Paul McKenna has never been overweight, so he cannot completely grasp the difficulties (Allen Carr was a heavy smoker).

It’s a shame, because something in me tells me he hit the nail on the spot with the actual rules to follow (my own personal research led me to the same conclusions before I ever heard of him- see the Day 0 post), but he didn’t go in depth about how to actually follow the rules (how to be mentally strong to follow them). And the recorded hypnosis bit just didn’t do it for me.

However, it’s been a real growing experience to stop calculating, measuring, checking my weight on the scale, because as I wrote several times this past month: this allowed me to focus on the real issues, the reasons why I numb myself with food. This experience was not pleasant, it was actually violent, and at one point in the trial, I felt I reached an emotional bottom in which I couldn’t see the point of life and compelling reasons to continue living. It was because I had decided to let go of my one main coping mechanism (numbing through overeating) and I suddenly felt so anxious that I couldn’t deal with anything anymore. This deconstruction actually made me try and find new ways to behave and I think this is the first step towards a having the mind of a healthy person.

Slowly, I feel that I am constructing my compelling vision of the healthy self. (that vision that should be in the P McKenna book 🙂 ) Which makes me think that if I manage to construct that compelling vision, I could publish my book too! 😉

Anyway, after this 30 days trial, I will happily continue to NOT diet and follow the P McKenna rules to the best of my discipline. But I will stop listening to the tape and read his book. I will however keep working on my own vision.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” Review – Days 26 to 30

August 21, 2008

This is my first attempt to follow the Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”‘ principles. This attempt didn’t succeed. I tried again in March 2009, and this time it worked. If you want to read the successful trial, click here.

***

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about the issue of self discipline. Indeed, even if the principles of the Paul McKenna system seem fairly easy, they require a good deal of self-discipline to follow. In my mind, discipline has always been associated to the idea of military, which gives it a negative connotation. to me, military is aggressivity, violence and suffering. Military people are among the most disciplined people: they have a daily routine of exercize and training that they follow unfailingly. They have very organized processes for even the most simple tasks (how to make a bed, for example). The result is that they are very efficient in the tasks that they are trained to do.

If there is a negative connotation to the military, why then should I become discipline myself? I don’t want to harm anybody, I don’t want to provoke violence. I am not an aggressive person. But then I thought that the military is not only here to attack. In European countries, the military exists mostly for the purpose of defending, in case there is aggression from another country. We could discuss the European engagement in Afghanistan, but let’s skip this question right now, the point is that ideologically, the army exists for defensive purposes. In France, the authority that governs the army is called “Le ministère de la défense”, the defense ministry. This made me think that there could be a positive, virtuous connotation associated with self-discpline.

Now, what are my unhealthy habits, but an attack on my health, and therefore on my happiness? There is a part of me that wants me to be unhealthy and therefore it is making me unhappy. I see this today as an aggression on myself, and that therefore this aggression should be fought against with strong self discipline.

What does this mean exactly? It means I must not compromise with the rules I decide to follow. If I choose these rules for a certain period of time, then I stick to them. (I compromised a lot during the trial). For the purpose of becoming healthier, daily exercize are also a must (more to come about this, I’ve got a little surprise for you in the next few days, stay tuned!). You get the idea. Firmness and discipline are positive qualities when to comes to defending oneself against aggression on my own happiness.