I Have Decided – Have You?

Have you ever heard someone say: “Oh, I will quit on Monday! That’s it, I truly had enough on this junk! Let the weekend go buy and then I will quit” or “From January I will change, I will go on a diet and get myself down at the gym” or “That’s it, from tomorrow I will stop drinking at night”?

Seriously, think about all the people who made these kinds of statements and see if you can recall any of them who actually acted on that statement. Chances are that if you have caught anybody say anything similar to the above, none of what wad said has ever come to reality. The person who said “Oh, I would so like to lose some weight” whilst eating a pizza, is still overweight and the person who said that cigarettes will no longer control his life whilst blowing the smoke out, still coughs in the morning while he looks for the lighter.

This is down to one simple but very significant fact: none of the above statements constitute a decision; none of them is structured as a decision nor is it meant as one. They are simply verbalization of preferences, verbalization of what these people would like to have happen in their lives, they would like life to just give them those things but they are not willing to do anything about it.

A true decision is always, with no exception, accompanied by an action; immediately. That means that one must do the most that one can do the moment the decision has been made. This concept represents the most effective way to start, and consequently complete, anything and seems very simple. In some ways in fact, it is simple although, maybe because of its simplicity, many people fail to apply it and thus fail to reach their goals whether that is quitting smoking, losing weight, getting a new job, making money etcetera.

The power of decisions is responsible for the success of people like Thomas Edison who decided that “every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward” and, straight away, carried on seeking the right way. Edison decided that he will keep on trying until he found the right way and he did carry on until he did. Henry Ford who decided that he wanted an 8 cylinder engine mounted in one piece and invested time and money persuading his employees, who declared the project to be impossible, to find a way. Ford decided that he wanted such engine and took action right away. Silvester Stallone decided that he would have been Rocky and even when the 2000 agencies he went to refused him 3 times each, he still persisted. His wife left him, he had no money to eat, he had to sell his dog because he was no longer able to look after him and still, when the one of the agencies he went to, decided to offer him $60,000.00 for the script as long as he gave up on the desire of wanting to play Rocky, he refused and walked away with nothing. He refused and he persisted until the agency accepted with the condition that Stallone would have only received nominal pay and a cut of the profits because they would not believe that a guy who, at least to them, did not look good, did not sound good and simply did not have the right presence to be an actor, could drive Rocky to be a successful movie. They were right: Rocky was not a good movie; Rocky turned out to be a legacy!

Of course, persistence, drive, motivation, ambition, vision and desire all played key roles in the monumental achievements of Edison, Ford and Stallone and others like them, but it all started from a true decision; a decision to accept nothing less, nothing different from the dream they have carefully designed, not even the smallest compromise.

All these amazing outcomes above were once ideas, like the ones that many of us have, like the ones that remain in one’s mind and eventually become regrets. Unless we take these ideas and turned them into Decision and the one and only way known to turn ideas into Decisions is to take action; not tomorrow, not in one hour but right now. This is, symbolically as well as practically, the equivalent of giving the big wheel the first push; it makes the second spin almost inevitable.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Anthony Robbins

Image reproduced from http://www.lesca.ca

Taking Responsibility on Life’s Ride

Adam Shaw reports on taking responsibility. Watch his video on City Connect

In life we all get dealt seemingly good and bad cards. How we see them is important and by seeing them as separate it is possible to lose the bigger picture.

Only by realising that everything that happens in your life is inter-related can you move through life’s challenges with a smile on your face (even if it doesn’t happen straight away!)

The Healthy Heart Academy

City Connect introduces Adam Shaw and the Healthy Heart Academy.

Thank you for taking your time in getting to know me. Your time is precious and can never be replaced. I truly appreciate yours used to connect with me here.

A different start in life.

I grew up within the grounds of a Psychiatric Institution. My parents both worked there, as nurses and we lived in the staff housing within the grounds. During my youth I used to answer the door to old ladies and gentlemen, sometimes in their nightgowns or pyjamas, asking for cigarettes. I saw many crazy, sometimes very funny things and people growing up.

I learned that laughter is a great gift.

Much of my time growing up was spent exploring the natural surroundings of the hospital, playing with my friends in nature and getting very curious about what mental health was.

After brief careers as a waiter, chef, banker, children’s counsellor and supermarket checkout clerk, I trained as a nurse in 1992. Here I discovered drugs for both treatments in the hospital and recreational use in the nurse’s home. I simultaneously worked part-time as a circuit-training instructor.

Did you ever experience a paradox in your life?

I found a health service that, although providing some critical and life-saving interventions, was very dependent on drugs. I also became dependent on drugs.

I was extremely fit physically, yet increasingly unhealthy mentally by being surrounded by sickness, death and various herbal and pharmaceutical interventions.

I have spoken with hundreds of people who were about to die and witness them realise what was truly important to them in their final hours.

Some people suffer because of things that they had done but couldn’t change. The people who suffer the most always get to regret what they didn’t do. Some had huge shifts in their final moments. If only they had been helped earlier, much pain could have been avoided.

Not only did patients suffer but many families were destroyed by the aftermath of a relative’s death and the unresolved issues left behind. Witnessing this several times led me understand that your heart is always guiding you. Unfortunately, many people become experts in ignoring these messages. Then one day a loved one dies and it’s too late to say and do the things that were unsaid and undone for so long.

Death is so final.

One day we will all be dead. In my experience, very few people consider this and what they hope to have done before that day comes. The only question that will matter at that point is what purpose did your life serve?

A very common theme in hospital was people full of regret because they spent so much of their lives investing money in their retirement, whilst compromising their happiness in jobs and relationships that made them feel trapped.

So many people waste the best years of their life being too unhappy to appreciate their health.

Many people hold regret about things that they could have done in the past. However, if you have any health at all then you can change. I became aware that all was not well in my world and that I was not particularly happy. Consequently, I used my nursing years to save up money and travel the world.

As others collected assets, I collected experiences in 6 different continents, spending over 6 years travelling overseas.

During these adventures I was caught up in riots, where hundreds of people died (I was not involved, just happened to be there!), earthquakes, hurricanes, pursued by gunmen on mopeds, rolled down a mountain in a vehicle with no seat belts and entertained by witch doctors at a party! These are just some of the adventures that I ended up on.

I then decided to leave nursing and discover the worlds of personal development, complimentary therapies and energy medicine. Despite spending over £100,000 on courses to find the answers to life’s questions I still felt that something was missing. Yet, I had no idea what it was.

For all of my classroom-based learning I realised that I was more productive and better able to think when I was on the move. It is a simple principle, yet incredibly powerful when used regularly. It fitted in with my time issues, as I walk anyway.

I realised that physical movement, when associated to learning, was the missing link to all that I had learned.

How was it possible that I had learned so many potentially powerful tools but was not using them regularly?

Time was my biggest issue and I stopped using my many tools for positive change and searching for something that I would remember to use regularly.

I then discovered my own method for enacting positive change at my pace.

By using a set of simple steps each time I walked I could work on my issues at my own pace, taking positive steps every day towards a better place.

In the past 3 years this process has led me out of a job and relationship that I did not love and into a life of discovery. I sold everything that I owned and used the money to learn all of the things that I had been putting off. I spent 3 years training in personal development, energy medicine and business-based courses.

Simultaneously, I took many risks, made many mistakes, had many hard lessons and ended up over £20,000 in debt. I had no assets and had to rely on friends and family to even be able to afford to eat. This was a humbling place to be and taught me many lessons. The main thing that I knew from this place was that I would never make a difference in the world if I didn’t look after myself first.

My natural instincts were to help everyone else and not ask for anything in return. Whilst this made me popular , I found that it was not working for me in the world of business. In order to help more people I had to help myself first. Installing this principle in my life and the lives of others is a key principle to having a healthier heart.

In the past, I would have dropped out and retreated back to my comfort zone, taken a job that I didn’t love and lived a life of mediocrity. However, this process has guided me towards many people who have supported me, believed in me and helped me through the toughest periods of my life.

Despite this, it was only discovering a renewed belief in myself that allowed me to pursue my goals and dreams beyond my comfort zone. This has led me to a much happier and healthier place.

Most of my interventions and resources will not offer you a quick fix for instant happiness. My path has been one of daily, positive steps. There have been ups and downs and still are. What is different now is that I have created a wonderful network of friends and my vision for The Healthy Heart Academy has carried me through many dark days along the way.

I believe that true health is accepting all aspects of oneself, balancing the less healthy aspects of my life with ones that restore balance. Through balancing any activities that may not be considered 100% healthy by some experts in the field, with the techniques that I have developed, I have cultivated a more harmonious relationship with myself.

It is my aim to not just improve the heart health of the world but also to create a movement that leaves a legacy of a healthier, happier planet for our future generations. I am not sure exactly how this will happen but I do know that unless I spend the rest of my life moving towards this goal then I will not be living a life that is true to my heart.

I invite you to join me. You can get in touch with me through City Connect or my website.

Image reproduced from http://nneteworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Healthy-heart.gif

The Insider’s Guide to Living with Depression

I am a young woman who has suffered from clinical depression intermittently throughout my life. I have had counselling, psychotherapy, anti-depressants and cognitive behavioural therapy; whilst these treatments work and should always be carefully considered in a case of mental illness, I have learned to manage this condition in my own little ways. I can tell you this: it gets easier every time and fighting is the only way you’re going to get out of it. You deserve to get better and be well. You deserve to do all the things you want to do. And let nobody tell you that you are a failure or a weaker person because you have depression. No-one would say that if you had diabetes! It’s a disease, nothing more, treatable and manageable and much more common than you think. There are many things you can do to help yourself. Just give it a try. You have nothing to lose, right?

1. Attitude:

Your attitude to your illness is one of the main things that defines how you deal with it and how quickly you can recover. I used to think of myself as a ‘depressed person’ who would always have a tendency towards the condition and never get out of it. Why should I try to get better? It’s who I am, right? Wrong. That is simply not true. A quarter of UK adults suffer with some form of depression at some point in their lives, so you are not different or less strong than everyone else. You are not a ‘depressed person’. You are a person with depression. Do you see the difference? It is only a chemical imbalance in your brain, an illness just like diabetes or flu or anything else, and of course it doesn’t change who you are to begin with. You can manage it just as other conditions are managed and you can be sure that it does not define you. Think about all the other things that you are! For example, I am also a writer, a friend, a daughter and a sister. I am a student, a wine enthusiast and a French speaker. What are you? What have you achieved in your life? Depression is something inside your head that shouldn’t even be there. It’s not your fault, it’s not your personality and it’s not here to stay. Remember that no-one has a right to judge you for the way you feel. You didn’t ask to be depressed and you have every right to work through it in your own way. There is hope, there are treatments and you aren’t alone. If you see this as a battle against an outside enemy rather than yourself, you have no need to beat yourself up. You aren’t the problem, even if it feels that way. Depression is not who you are.


2. Exercise:

Believe me, I know the feeling. It’s 3pm and you’re on the sofa, in your dressing gown, watching your 10th episode of Friends that day and feeling so tired and unhappy you just can’t move. I know that in this situation, the last thing you want to do is get on a treadmill. But consider this: 10 minutes of exercise in the morning raises your endorphins, gives you energy and ultimately makes you happier. I can’t understate the power of an energetic dance session around your room to your favourite song. It’s actually fun. Swimming is another good one too: No sweat, no pressure, you can go at a quiet time of day and you can easily build up laps each time. It’s scientifically proven that cardiovascular exercise raises your mood. You won’t regret it.

3. Food:

I am not going to bang on about fruit and vegetables here, don’t worry! I watched an interesting programme recently on Channel 4 called ‘The Food Hospital’ (http://foodhospital.channel4.com/) which sought to prove that medical conditions could be cured with food. There was a case of a woman named Debbie with severe depression who didn’t change her medication or treatment, just her diet, and in 10 weeks she was happier, more confident and scored very low on the PHQ9 questionnaire (a measure of depression used by doctors). Did she have to cut out carbs? Go vegetarian? Eat goji berries and nettle soup? Guess again. To boost her serotonin, Debbie ate more protein, which contains tryptophan, an important amino acid which the body uses to boost serotonin. That’s the same thing SSRI antidepressants do: boost serotonin to make us happier. Some good proteins are eggs and cheese. The other important feature of this diet was wholegrain carbohydrates (good news for me, as I love pasta). She also ate foods rich in zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which include nuts, chicken and oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Of course, fruit and vegetables are important too.

Since watching the programme, I have taken to eating a lot more chicken, fish, nuts, eggs and green leafy vegetables. I’ve switched my rice, pasta and bread to wholegrain but still eat a lot of it! Not only have I lost weight but, along with a few other factors, it’s really helping kick my depression. I call these foods my ‘happy food’ and the beautiful thing is, it doesn’t even feel like a diet! I also recommend taking an Omega-3 supplement, this has been proven to be effective and many people, including myself, swear by it as a supplement to diet and anti-depressants. I also take B-vitamins for energy. (I strongly advise you to talk to your doctor before taking any new medicine).

4. Keeping Busy: 

Sitting and doing nothing, though you may feel like it’s what you want, is the worst possible thing to do. It gets you feeling more and more trapped and irritated and you then find it harder to get out of it. At first, just try to plan to do one useful thing a day: help with the washing up, take the dog for a walk, go and visit a friend, bake a cake, sort out a messy drawer, or go shopping. If you achieve something, you will feel better at the end of the day, just by knowing that you didn’t give in to depression completely that day. When you become more confident at doing things, you could then start making yourself a rough schedule, divided into morning and evening, for what you will do on particular days of the week. Try to get into a routine, just so that you know that your day will not be empty. It’s a daunting prospect getting up in the morning and not being sure what to do with your day; often if this is the case you will just stay in bed or switch the telly on. After you’ve done what you said you were going to do, treat yourself: listen to your favourite CD, watch a film, eat some cake or have a bath, whatever makes you feel happy. I know that it’s hard to find something that you do want to do, but it helps to self-motivate and make the effort worthwhile. For example, I’ve spent the morning cleaning the house, so I’m going to have a cup of tea and watch my favourite programme. It’s as simple as that. The sense of achievement is reward enough: If you feel useful, you are fulfilling your own needs and you will feel better about yourself. Prove that you can win over self-loathing thoughts and lethargy. Get up and do something!

These four factors are the things that have helped me the most in dealing with my depression and I have seen that with a positive attitude and a little bit of effort, every bout of depression is easier to cope with. I have also seen a very good psychotherapist and would always recommend this, as a lot of issues can trigger depression and talking about them can help. I have also been on anti-depressants, so I have taken every possible avenue of treatment and sincerely believe that, though I have been hugely aided by medical help, some of my depression was due to my own lack of effort and my utter surrender to the way I was feeling. It was when I started fighting for my own mental health that things began to look up. I’m now talking to my doctor about reducing my medication and I believe that the end is definitely in sight. If depression comes back to plague my mind again, I will be ready for it. I hope that you will be too.

Images reproduced from: http://www.depression-survival.com, http://www.questmachine.org, http://www.prairiespine.com, http;//www.orientalmedicine.co.uk and http://4.bp.blogspot.com