Category

Wellness

Stress, Your Built-In Performance Booster

By | Stress, Wellness

It’s no secret managing stress and mental health is a major concern for every workplace today. Some of the words we use to describe todays working environments are; busy, agile, flexible, mobile, connected and 24/7. The mental load of operating in this environment is huge and when combined with the high amount of uncertainty present in many businesses as well as the increased pace of life, it’s more important than ever for individuals to have a personal understanding of stress and it’s impacts on their health and productivity.

The number 1 function of our body is to adapt to its immediate environment in order to maintain homeostasis. Keeping everything as regular as possible in the context of our surroundings. In order to do this we have a number of built in automatic response systems which run subconsciously in the background ready to be called upon at any time. The stress responses system is one example which could be described as emergency biological programming to prepare us for a demand for change. When you take this view of our stress response system, it’s really pretty amazing. It’s like our own inner steroid injection system for when we need to take our bodies up a gear. This emergency response system is our most effective performance enhancer.

It allows us to increase our physical output to run away from a threat (I won’t say sabre-tooth tiger), or focus our mind to meet an impending deadline at work. Stress helps us gain clarity when facing a new challenge and to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone which is normally the fastest way to personal growth and development. The acute physiological changes which allow this to happen take place automatically. Just amazing.

So what happens when we run this emergency programming for extended periods of time? In attempting to maintain homeostasis we might try to ignore it. Imagine your fire alarm at work went off but was faulty meaning it wouldn’t shut off. After the initial kerfuffle died down, and you got tired of hanging around after your immediate evacuation, the sound would just annoy you. They are not a pleasant tune. Eventually you might try to get on with some work, send a few emails or text messages, maybe trying to block out the noise with the help of your overpriced noise cancelling headphones (sorry that’s an in-joke with my wife). While you could block it out for a period of time, it would still be there in the background and your attention would regularly be drawn to the unbearably annoying sound while you gradually feel more restless and agitated over time.

In the same way when you are confronted by a stressor, something which causes stress, your body responds by sounding the emergency alarm and the cascading release of hormones to assist you to deal with the stressor. The main stress hormone that you might be familiar with is cortisol which is literally the steroid injection I mentioned earlier. It provides us with a whole host of benefits including increasing the availability of our stored fuel supplies (glycogen and fat), increasing our blood pressure and our increasing our sensitivity to other hormones such epinephrine to heighten our focus. All these symptoms prepare us for rapid muscular contraction and increased energy output which might required due to the stressor.

Too much of a good thing, however can be a bad thing. We like to label things as being good or bad but a lot of times these things are dose dependant. Using a nutritional example, salt and fat have been vilified for years, being labeled as body weight bad guys, when in fact they are vital nutrients that our bodies need. Just in the right amount.

In cases of chronic stress, when your stress response does not shut, you end up with elevated levels of cortisol for a longer period than is normally required. This will cause your body to try to adapt to the increased levels of cortisol circulating, leading to side effects such as reduced insulin sensitivity, irregular sleep and experiencing food cravings which can often lead to wight gain. You might not notice these symptoms at first, but your partner might when a seemingly insignificant disagreement causes a terrible-two’s-like-meltdown. This lingering, heightened stress state is now the number 1 cause of unexpected workplace absence and is literally costing organisations millions. As one of the many interwoven factors that impact on our wellbeing, it is robbing individuals of being in their optimal state of health.

As my goal is to help individuals and organisations create enduring healthy change, I see the issue of managing stress as a vital focus area. Having the self-awareness and the tools to actively manage stress could give you the best return on your effort when setting out to create a healthy change in your life. If you consider yourself to be a bit of a “stress head” it could be time to look into ways you can better manage your own stress. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing tips and tools from my workshop Driving Down Stress to help you better manage stress which may come in handy as we approach the silly season (I mean the festive season)!

Increase Your Sleep Quality with “Night Shift”

By | Sleep, Stress, Wellness

If you are not on board with night shift, you should be! And no, I’m not referring to staying awake all night and bringing home penalty rates, quite the opposite actually. The new night shift feature on my iPhone and MacBook have been somewhat of a revelation for me over the past few weeks, here’s why.

Did you know that artificial light at night can inhibit your production of the hormone melatonin? And what’s more, did you know that melatonin is your greatest ally when it comes to having a restful sleep? Our most prolific sleep hormone is sometimes referred to as the hormone of darkness, which gives you some clue as to why it might be important. Throughout the day the melatonin level circulating through our bodies is relatively low, but during the evening our body begins to produce melatonin through a chain of chemical reactions as the sun goes down, with peak levels occurring around 2am. This coincides with a range of other physiological changes that occur in our bodies over a 24 hour period in line with our natural circadian rhythm.

In the early hours of the morning when first light is approaching there are a number of mechanisms that begin to fire up all systems to prepare us to face the new day. Our body temperature begins to increase, our cortisol levels rise, our heart rate and blood pressure increase and our metabolism starts to increase to ensure we are ready to produce the energy we need to function. At the same time our melatonin levels rapidly decrease allowing us to become alert.

Apple MacBook Night Shift Settings

When it comes to light, it is specifically the blue light in the visible light spectrum that has the biggest impact on keeping us awake and alert. The bad news is that many of our current energy efficient light bulbs today such as LED’s and fluorescent lights emit a much higher amount of blue light, as do our mobile devices and computer monitors. But now we have another tool to help counter the effects of blue light late at night.

By turning on your night shift mode and setting it to the warmest possible setting the device will limit the amount of blue light being emitted from the screen. You will notice the difference straight away as the softness of the light is a welcome relief for eyes that have already spent many hours on a screen during the day.

Getting the best possible sleep

When you combine this feature with other lifestyle habits you can ensure you are preparing yourself for the best possible restful and rejuvenating sleep. So here’s a few tips that you can use alone with activating night shift mode on your devices to ensure you get the best sleep you can:

  • Gradually reduce your exposure to light in the evening. Dimmer switches are great for this otherwise just gradually turn lights off around the house.
  • Avoid sitting under LED’s at night.
  • Limit your intake of food and drink two hours before bed.
  • Set a time when you will turn off all electronic devices before you go to bed. Ideally I’d recommend giving yourself 30 minutes to an hour device free before you crawl under the covers. (I’m still working on this habit myself as I sit here writing this post at 10pm at night ha).
  • Spend a few minutes doing deep breathing exercises before your head hits the pillow. Mindful breathing for even a few minutes does wonders for relaxing your body and mind.
I hope this helps you get the restful sleep you need to make the most out of your days. If you are finding that you are going to bed both tired and wired at the same time, as in your brain just won’t switch off, then on top of following the above recommendations it could be time to look further into how you are managing stress in your life.

Why Do You Eat What You Eat? Understanding Food Choices (Part 4)

By | Nutrition, Wellness
Not many people would argue with me on the fact that the food we put in our bodies is one of the most important influencers of our health. While there are so many factors that influence what food ends up in our mouths, ultimately as adults what we eat is well within our circle of control. During this four part series I set out to try to put into words why we eat the food that we eat. There were four key ideas that I wanted to highlight, three of which have already been covered.
  1. We have physiological drivers that make us want to eat. We are wired to crave energy, our cells need it to survive. This was explored through the lens of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When we meet the physical needs of the body our needs are then driven by psychological and self-efficacy needs. (Part 1)
  2. The role of attitudes, social norms and perceived behavioural control play a big role in what we choose to buy, to cook and to eat with attitude having the strongest correlation with behaviour. This was addressed by applying the Theory of Planed Behaviour to our food choices. (Part II)
  3. Habits and past behaviours are one of the strongest predictors of future behaviour and unless you consciously design the environment to support a change and repeatedly practice the new behaviour, we find it very hard to break away from existing patterns of behaviour. (Part III)
And the fourth reason?
  1. We are a product of our environment!
The effect of our environment on our food consumption behaviour overlaps with all of the other areas we have looked at thus far and plays a huge role in what food we eat. When it comes to food choices, our environment is not merely the trees growing in the street, or the community vegetable garden down the road. Our environment comprises every place and system we live within, from our family make up to the broader political and cultural environment we live within which plays an important role in the types of foods made available or considered suitable for consumption in our culture.
To get a better understanding, let’s apply another framework (yay), the Ecological Framework!

Ecological Models of Behaviour

Ecological models of health behaviour place the individual at the centre of the model surrounded by layers of environmental influencers.

Using a model such as Bronfenbrenner’s model, shown here, demonstrates the overlap between the varying environmental contexts the individual exists within and that it’s the combination of each layer that influences behaviour.

The inner circle represents the individual who is surrounded by their immediate environment known as the Microsystem. The Microsystem represents all the interactions the individual has with people in their lives such as family members, peers and school or work colleagues. The following layer, the Mesosystem is the environment in which the microsystem relationships take place in and connects the Microsystem to the Exosystem.

The Exosystem is the broader community the individual resides within but does not necessarily directly interact with such as the industry associations, educational institutions and the political environment. Finally, the outer layer of the model consists of the Macrosystem which represents the cultural norms and societal laws.

Each level of the model influences food choice and consumption behaviour in some way. The inner circle representing the individual encompasses the attitudes the person has towards various foods. The following two circles have a large bearing on what food is available to an individual in their community, what they like, what foods they tend to purchase and when they eat.
The outer levels will have a large bearing on food behaviour in the form of what is accepted as food in the culture and what foods are grown in or imported into the area. An example of how the Exosystem can impact food choice through politics is if the government were to introduce a tax on food products containing added sugar, this would make those products more expensive and may influence an individual’s decision to purchase them or make an alternative decision.
Cultural ideologies are more likely to inform food choice behaviour in an unconscious manner as the individual may not question why things are done a certain way but rather accept that it is normal such as which foods you could expect to purchase at a restaurant or whether you would buy fried scorpions from a street market! (spew)…

Summing it all up

An ecological appreciation is important as it acknowledges while individuals make choices as to what foods they consume, their choices are largely a product of their environment in the form of what foods they have been exposed to and the foods which are available to them. From a social standpoint we can see that other people have perhaps the most significant role in our food behaviour particularly as we grow up and begin to form our food preferences. So while you could blame Mum or your culture for the food that you eat as a result of the environment you grew up in, you also have the power to change the story and make a new choice (however, you might also need to consider changing your environment).
References
  1. Sallis JF, Owen N, Fischer EB. Health behaviour and health education theory research and practice. 4th ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; c2008. Chapter 20, Ecological models of health behaviour; p. 465-85.
  2. Hardcastle SJ, Thøgersen-Ntoumani C, Chatzisarantis NL. Food Choice and Nutrition: A Social Psychological Perspective. Nutrients. 2015 Oct 21;7:8712-15.

 

Why Do You Eat What You Eat? Understanding Food Choices (Part 3)

By | Nutrition, Wellness

One thing you can guarantee in life is that you will encounter multiple life altering changes. Whether of your own choosing or due to outside circumstances, change is inevitable.

I’ve had a couple of dramatic routine changes this year, the most recent in May when I left my full time job (for the second time this year) and decided to finally go out on my own! A big change in routine provides the perfect back drop for creating new healthy habits such as cleaning up our diet and assessing the foods that we purchase on a day to day or week to week basis.

It’s amazing how easily and quickly we can experience habit creep! Old patterns of behaviour slowly creeping back in to influence our new habits. This is why past behaviour and habits are the strongest predictors of future behaviour.

The Role of Habits

We are constantly forming patterns of behaviour. It’s important that we do so in order to prevent us from having to consciously think about every single action or behaviour we undertake. This frees up an enormous amount of mental energy to make decisions about important things like what to watch on Netflix (jokes). Driving a car provides the perfect example of developing automated habits. If you think back to your first time behind the wheel, as a learner driver you were very deliberate about all of your actions and the sequence in which they occurred such as indicating, looking in their mirror, head checking, braking and turning. However, as the skill of driving is developed over time, as a seasoned driver you now undertake most of these actions automatically without conscious decision making. Now you can devote your attention to belting out a tune while looking around to see whether any fellow travellers have spotted you.

In the same way, eating behaviour can exist as a series of automated habits that are developed and reinforced over time. People become familiar with the types of foods they know they can prepare, the sensation of being satisfied or over-satisfied, where certain items are located in the supermarket that they like to buy and even the position they place them in their pantry at home. There are so many layers to the habits we form around our eating!

Have you ever walked to the pantry with your mind elsewhere and before you knew it you were about to put food in your mouth? I’ll take that as a yes. Even healthy foods can become a vice in this way. I love roasted almonds and recently I was beginning to develop the habit of taking a small handful from the jar every time I walked through the kitchen so I needed to move them to break the habit!

When combined with our biological impulses such as cravings we can experience for certain food types, patterns of behaviour can be very difficult to overcome. Changing a food choice behaviour is not always as simple as having the intention to do so or making a rational alternative decision. Items such as chocolate, caffeinated drinks, soft drink, alcohol and cigarettes contain substances which provide physiological stimuli that we learn to crave due to the short-term reward we receive from these substances.

Without “choice architecture,” the purposeful planning and design of the environment to support new desired choices and behaviours, it can be very difficult to overcome the desire to consume certain foods and control impulsive behaviour. Willpower alone is rarely enough. There are many environmental factors that reinforce the habit as we associate the environment, whether that be physical, social or emotional, with the behaviour. So, changing the behaviour usually involves deliberately changing the environment.

In the final part of this series I will take a deeper dive into the role of the various levels of our environment on our food choices. In the mean time, if you are serious about understanding why you eat what you eat and creating healthy change that lasts, take note of the following:

  1. It’s near impossible to change a behaviour without first understanding what’s influencing that behaviour and what patterns or habits lead to that behaviour.
  2. Past behaviour is the strongest predictors of future behaviour unless you have a deliberate plan to redesign the environment which leads to the decision or impulse to undertake that behaviour.
  3. Merely saying “I don’t want to overeat” or “I quit chocolate” will rarely be enough and are more likely to cause you to feel like a failure the next time you do overeat or gorge yourself on chocolate!

To finish on a side note, one of our biggest pitfalls when it comes to our diet is guilt we feel as a result of eating. I believe that the guilt you feel due to eating is just as harmful, if not more so, than what you are putting into your body. It’s time you developed a positive relationship with food!

Why Do You Eat What You Eat? Understanding Food Choices (Part 2)

By | Nutrition, Wellness
I’ve loved getting back into football this year, after my first attempt at retirement last year (ha). The pre-season helped me sharpen my fitness and the familiar routine gives me a sense of stability. Thursday night training is a buzz, though I must admit partially because I’m looking forward to the end of the session to get inside and see how much food I can eat for $10! Anyone familiar with the Aussie rules community club culture is accustomed to the Thursday night meal which usually includes fried nuggets and chips for the kids (but I’ll save this bug bear for another post).
A few weeks ago following Thursday night training, I was doing my usual thing which is to try and load as much of the veggies or salad onto my plate as I can. Then when I found a seat, I was talking to some of the young guys who’s plates looked very different to mine. It appeared they preferred single colour meals and traded any semblance of real food for extra fries. These are young athletes mind you, and it often leaves me pondering how they fuel their body to perform and recover. I digress…
I politely and non-judgementally pose the question, “no veggies mate?” 
The answer, “Na I don’t really like them.”
When you are fortunate enough to have access to pretty much any type of food you want, always satisfy your hunger and never have to think about where your next meal is coming from, why do so many people give little thought to what they eat?
In part one of this series (found here), we had a quick glance at food choice behaviour from the point of view of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to consider some of the drivers of our behaviour. Now we turn to a well known behavioural process model, The Theory of Planned Behaviour, to provide another perspective.

The Theory of Planned Behaviour

Developed by Icek Ajzen, the Theory provides a model to describe and predict human behaviour through the lens of three belief types; behavioural, normative and control. It is these belief systems which inform a person’s intention to act in a certain way.
In this model, intention is the key predictor of behaviour, so we must understand what influences our intentions.
Intention signifies our desire to perform a behaviour which according to the model is a result of our attitude towards the behaviour, whether we believe it to be socially acceptable in the eyes of our peers and significant others and the degree to which the behaviour (or alternatives) are within our control.

Attitude

Attitude has been found to have the strongest association with behaviour followed by perceived behavioural control and then subjective norm. It’s an individual’s attitude towards certain foods which creates a set of beliefs such as regular fast food consumption being acceptable or it is beneficial to forgo hedonically pleasing food like french-fries in favour of more nutritious foods like vegetables.

Perceived Behavioural Control

Perceived behavioural control refers to one’s perception of the control they have over their actual behaviour in terms of the resources, time, money and opportunities available to them. Whether or not an individual believes they have the skills, time, resources and ability to prepare tasty yet healthy meals is a major influencer of food choice. An individual may regularly opt for cheap, convenient and less healthy takeaway food due to believing they do not have the time to cook a healthy meal.

Subjective Norm

Subjective norm is a social determinant which results in selection of certain behaviours over others based on what we think other people think about those behaviours. The more an individual perceives a behaviour to be a socially acceptable behaviour, the more likely they are to participate in it.
In the context of making healthy food choices, if the behaviour of eating a healthy diet full of vegetables is seen by as a positive behaviour (attitude) that is socially encouraged by your peer group and family (subjective norm) and is also within you control, as in you have these foods available to you (perceived behavioural control), would there be any reason you would eat anything but this healthy diet? The answer as we’ve already found is yes.
One reason could be (as Ajzen acknowledged himself) that intention alone is not the sole predictor of behaviour and the model doesn’t recognise the role of past behaviours or habits as an influencer of future behaviour. We often form behavioural patterns and continue to do what is familiar.
In part three of this series I’ll be covering the role habits as well as how the immediate and broader cultural environment play a large role in our attitude towards food choice behaviours. For now have a think about the following;
  1. What attitudes contribute to your food choices? For example; mashed potato has a disgusting consistency and spaghetti is inedible because it looks like worms (maybe just in my house, and no, it’s not me)! Attitude towards certain foods is the biggest influencer of food choice. To change a food behaviour we must examine our attitude first.
  2. How does your perceived behavioural control impact on your food choices? For example; I don’t have time, I don’t know how to cook, I don’t like cooking. Recognising that all these things are actually within your control is the first step.
  3. How do your social circumstances influence your food choices? Think about your work situation which can have a huge influence; “let’s all go get schnitzel burgers today at lunch time” or “I’m going to get a coffee, would you like another one?” Also your home environment; if the kids won’t eat it, should you bother making it? Absolutely, because repeated exposure to foods influences liking of those foods (research shows this) and you’re also setting the best example for them!
I hope this has given further appreciation of the complexity of food choice behaviour.
Eat your veggies!
References
  1. Ajzen, I. The theory of planned behavior. Organ Behav Hum Dec. 1991;50:179–211.
  2. McDermott MS, Oliver M, Svenson A, Simnadis T, Beck JE, Coltman T, et al. The theory of planned behaviour and discrete food choices: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Behav Natr Phy. 2015;12:162.
  3. Azjen I. The theory of planned behaviour: Reactions and reflections. Psychol Health. 2011 Sep;26(9):1113-27
  4. Hardcastle SJ, Thøgersen-Ntoumani C, Chatzisarantis NL. Food Choice and Nutrition: A Social Psychological Perspective. Nutrients. 2015 Oct 21;7:8712-15.

Why Do You Eat What You Eat? Understanding Food Choices (Part 1)

By | Nutrition, Wellness

What really drives food behaviour?

There are a multitude of theories that have been developed by psychologists, nutritionists and back yard gurus in an attempt to describe and predict why we put certain foods in our mouth. Yet the food choice landscape continues to become infinitely more puzzling, with new food products, advice, diets and apps available every other day.

So, why do we eat what we eat? That’s what I’m attempting to answer over this four part series. I hope you follow along and use it as an opportunity to look inward and think about why you really eat the food you eat.

When trying to understand human behaviour it is helpful to view it in the context of what drives human behaviour. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, a well-known psychological model is a great starting point for this series as it describes the drivers of behaviour, being a desire to fulfil varying levels of needs.

You might be familiar with the model which presents five categories of needs in a pyramid with the bottom level, the physiological needs, being the most basic needs and our highest priority. It culminates in the top-level needs which are self-fulfilment needs as seen below.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

The premise of the model is that humans will aim to meet their basic physiological needs first such as eating and drinking before going about trying to fulfil higher level needs such as the need for love and belonging or the desire for feelings of accomplishment.

Thinking about the foods we eat from the perspective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, once a person has satisfied their physiological need for food (they are no longer hungry) and they have an adequate level of food security (they know where their next meal is coming from) their basic food needs are met.

In Australia 13.3% of people are said to live below the poverty line, which is an alarming stat, and these people are most likely concerned with meeting their physiological needs and obtaining enough food to eat. Most of the other 86% of people should have adequate food security and be able to satisfy their hunger. Their food choices would then be determined by the next level needs, the psychological needs. An example being an individual’s need for belonging impacting on the foods they choose to eat due to compromising on their own wants to satisfy the social group. They might engage in certain eating behaviour like eating takeaway because their friends desire it and it’s a socially acceptable activity. Not to mention nobody wants to be seen as judgemental or elitist for not engaging in the group activity, we’d much rather be included. Another example could be a desire for feelings of accomplishment influencing the types of restaurants a person visits, choosing upper-class experiences which fulfil a status need or what they consider a social norm.

Without broaching the subject of eating disorders, there are many ways that our psychological needs influence our eating behaviour such as eating as a reward, eating for a celebration and eating for distraction or boredom (possibly to avoid finishing a blog post or assignment)!

 

The Takeaway

To summarise part 1, the take away points are:

  1. There are varying levels of needs that we attempt to satisfy which influence our behaviour such as food choice and consumption behaviour.
  2. A majority of Australians are capable of meeting their physiological needs which results in their food choices often being influenced by psychological and self-fulfilment needs.

In part two I’m going to explore how our beliefs influence our food choice behaviour through the lens of a common behavioural process model.

What is a Wellness Coach anyway?

By | Coaching, Wellness
It took me some time to confidently proclaim to my friends and family that I am a “wellness coach.” In giving this statement the eyebrow test, I’d almost always be met with raised eyebrows and eyebrows don’t lie! Raised eyebrows usually signal surprise with a side note of criticism and imply people are quickly trying to figure out what exactly a wellness coach is before any words escape their mouth.
Before you raise your eyebrows, let me explain what a wellness coach is. The first part of the equation is figuring out what exactly wellness means, which is trickier said than done. Simply stated, wellness is your overall state of wellbeing. It’s more than freedom from disease, it’s being in a place of physical, mental and social/spiritual wellbeing so that you can perform in a manner consistent with your expectations. It encompasses lifestyle, environment and most importantly the self-evaluation of one’s quality of life.
The many facets of wellness can be viewed as a set of skills that are able to be learned, practiced and refined, similar to taking up a new sport. One of the best ways to master a new skill is under the guidance of a coach. Learning skills and techniques that enable you to enhance your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing will enable you to live a higher quality of life – as determined by yourself.
So the next part of the equation is the coaching part. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
In todays “information era,” the coach is no longer the expert but rather a lead collaborator. The information to improve your wellbeing is more readily available than ever before. The problem is there is just as much mis-information, fad diets and click bait to leave people feeling confused about the direction they should take to improve their health, particularly in taking the first step. Here lies the value of a coach, to help guide you into making decisions that are aligned with your goals and your motivation.
Coaching is not instruction, nor is it judgement. A good coach will accept people for who they are in their current state and ask that they do the same. There is no point being ashamed of what has been or who you are, but rather focus on what will be and who you will become.
In a sporting or strength and conditioning sense, I have been doing this for over 15 years when I began as an 18 year old personal trainer, and have continued to coach others in the sporting, fitness and corporate arenas ever since. I’ve always had a passion for performance, helping others perform at a high level and achieve their fitness goals. Whilst I love physical training, I now offer more to clients to help them go deeper into their personal vision, their motivation and the reasons that are driving their desire for change. Through my coaching program I help clients explore mindset, self limiting beliefs, nutrition habits, exercise routines and establishing process goals which are going to have the biggest impact on creating a healthier and happy being.
The people that I work with inspire me. They have recognised that there are one or two clear dissatisfactions which have caused then to want to change something. Whether it’s weight loss, feeling fatigued, lacking motivation, wanting to feel better about themselves or wanting to look better, they have a desire that is strong enough that they are ready to express it. It is this state, the beginnings of change, which can be the start of something amazing.
My goal is to reflect that inspiration and instil in my clients a belief that they can make it happen. Then we create a clear roadmap to ensure it does happen. There is no one size fits all plan. Each individual will work through a series of exercises to establish a base line and build a vision before we begin to look into solutions or design programs, which could include any number of approaches. The outcomes, the process goals and the successes are ultimately driven by the client.

A little about the I GRASP Wellness philosophy

The core purpose of I GRASP Wellness is;
“To empower individuals to make incremental healthy changes to continually improve their life.”
The I GRASP Wellness coaching and corporate training programs are built on five foundational pillars that counter the reasons why progress can be challenging.
Guidance – To be the best version of yourself physically a small dose of guidance is invaluable in helping establish a vision and paint the picture of a healthier, happier future.
Rapport – Focus on people first, building relationships through careful listening, deliberate curiosity and thoughtful questioning. Genuine care for each individual, treating each person who connects with I GRASP as a client for life.
Accountability – Many people have great intentions to be the best version of themselves, however “you can’t intention your way to anything.” Accountability is reminding someone what they desire and why they desire it followed by acting to an agreed standard.
Sustainable – Consistency in executing the small things leads to great things. A wholesale change is rarely sustainable. It is near impossible to eradicate negative past behaviours simply because you have drawn a line in the sand. Self determined lifestyle changes are best achieved through incremental progress.
Progress – Is my purpose and my promise. These five areas of focus will help you to move forward.
When you commit to making a positive change with the help of the I GRASP Wellness one on one coaching program you benefit from:
  • A minimum of 12 coaching sessions.
  • Daily mobile messaging support and encouragement to keep you on track.
  • Wellbeing plans to suit your goals whether that’s exercise plans, nutrition and meal plans, weekly productivity planner or mental wellbeing planner.
  • Connecting with like minded people.
  • Subscription to our newsletter for weekly wellness hacks and tidbits.
If you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to connect with I GRASP through our website or send me a direct message.

My Story – I GRASP Wellness

By | Purpose, Wellness
Hi, I’m Russell Whiteford and I am the founder of I GRASP Wellness.
My core purpose and the reason I founded I GRASP Wellness is to empower individuals and teams to make sustainable healthy changes to continually improve their lives.
We’re living in one of the safest times to be alive in human history with more information and resources available at our fingertips than ever before. However, the burden of preventable and lifestyle disease, continues to increase year on year having a profound effect on our wellbeing as a society.

How I Got Here

I’ve always had a passion for performance. I grew up with a love of sport and being active which through many twists and turns led me down the path of physical performance, sports coaching, fitness centre management and then onto project and infrastructure management.
Following a degree in Exercise & Sports Science and an attempt at running my first business (where I actually had to pay employees), I worked full time in management positions for a number of years in local and state government organisations. Through an array of leadership roles in sport, work and while studying, I have been able to help so many people improve their fitness, health and their sport or work performance. However, somewhere along the way it dawned on me that many of the people I witnessed making improvements in their lives struggled to change their deep rooted behaviours, which ultimately hindered them when it came to sustaining progress.
My personal training clients or even my staff often looked to me as the “expert” who was going to tell them what to do to improve their health, skill level or performance. Somewhat of a lightbulb moment occurred when one day I realised, by labelling me as the expert others could project the ownership of their success, whatever that may have been, onto me. After all, I was leading them.
If they did not get to where they said they wanted to go, it was easier to justify slipping back into old habits as it was my program, teaching style or coaching method which had failed them. It was me who failed.
This realisation drove me to learn more about the importance of leading your own holistic wellness journey rather than focusing on specific elements such as cardiovascular fitness or core strength. Behaviours, habits and self determined lifestyle goals are the real measure of success rather than 4 minute kms or ticking off an annual performance review. The sometimes small “process” goals make all the difference in creating enduring change. My change of thinking motivated me to learn more about other areas of health and is why I am now undertaking post graduate study in the field of Human Nutrition.
As a husband and father of two boys it’s more important than ever that I define and live up to my own version of success and be clear on the cost that I am willing to pay to attain it. The mental representation of success that I hold is based on an Earl Nightingale quote that has always stuck in my mind and is extremely relevant to how I work with people now:
    “Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy goal or ideal.”
It’s totally subjective, and that’s the point. Your baseline measurement is relevant only to you and where you are at right now before devising your next goal. It’s not the images you see on Instagram or even the your own pictures from 7 years ago that pop-up in your Facebook memories.
To be a great leader and restore your wellness potential you don’t need to immediately flip your life upside down nor embark on a journey of enlightenment in search of an “aha” moment. That comes later when one day you realise the sum of all the seemingly insignificant lifestyle tweaks amount to the life you’re aspiring to, and the best version of you.

The Foundation of I GRASP Wellness

CORE PURPOSE – Why does I GRASP Wellness exist?
“To empower individuals and organisations to make incremental healthy changes to continually improve their lives.”
Incremental, healthy and improvement are subjective and are relative to each individual.
VISION – Our vision is:
“To have a meaningful impact on the health of 1,000,000 people, helping them improve the quality of their own lives though I GRASP Wellness.”
CORE VALUES – Our foundational pillars and our guiding behaviours.
  1. Guidance – We guide people on a self directed journey of empowerment and assist them to build their vision of a healthier, happier future.
  2. Rapport – We focus on people first, building relationships through careful listening, deliberate curiosity and thoughtful questioning. We genuinely care for each individual, treating each person who connects with I GRASP as a client for life.
  3. Accountability – Through genuine relationship and the absence of judgement mutual accountability propels us forward.
  4. Sustainable – Manageable, self determined lifestyle adjustments multiply and result in enduring change.
  5. Progress – Hope, commitment and action provide the positive feedback loop to perpetually fuel progress.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.