TSHP377: Losing the Lockdown Pounds

What’s Coming This Episode?

The period of lockdown we’ve been through (and continue to live through) has been a strange one to say the least. Part of life for many has been lots more time at home with less journeys to the office, to see family or getting those little jobs down. For some, this lack of activity has had a physical impact on us. Short version – we’ve put on some weight. Sean opens up about how much he has put on and what he plans to do about it…

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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Losing the lockdown pounds – Time to Detox

So, how much weight have you put on in lockdown? I am looking at about 16 pounds mainly around the belly. My diets hasn’t really changed that much perhaps a bit more snacking and a glass of wine. My main problem has been being sedentary. Working from home has a lot going for it but when you are out in the world you move your body and that is what we are designed to do. We are built to be hunter gatherers. Going out into the bush and getting our food and supplies on a daily basis burns a lot of calories. You never see an over weight hunter gatherer.

5:2 Dieting

Along with moving as we gathered and hunted would have come the days when there was plenty and we could all pig out and the day when there was not so much to eat so we would nuts drink water to fill us up. MIchael Moslem’s 5:2 diet imitates the pattern of lots followed by lean. The science has shown that regular periods or either fasting or low calories kicks the body into fat burning mode. Our problem today is a never ending supply of food, lack of body movement and sugar.

Sugar occurs naturally in most of the plants that we eat. Our move to refine it to the white powder and then put it into everything from boiled sweets to pasta sauces creates weight gain and diabetic diseases. Also psychologically sugar spikes can create spikes and drops in mood and energy. I am sure that in lockdown many people have experienced increased irritability and moodiness. This is partly due to cabin fever and partly due to over eating the wrong foods and lack of body movement.

14,000 steps a day

With gym regimes we can easily believe that HIIT, weights and running are the ways to get fit. Well, actually, hunter gatherers hardly ever ran. They would only run to get away from something or to catch something. The trick is that they are always moving. This could be walking, jogging or simply moving around the home doing things, they do not spend hour sat down staring at a screen. The idea that we need to be doing 10,000 steps a day has become a sort of standard. Some personal trainers tell that the idea has back fired because people can develop the belief that if that have done their 10,000 steps that are now entitled to the next Mars Bar. Exercise wisdom says that we should be taking at least 14,000 steps a day and preferably more. Hunter gatherers walk between 15 and 18km per day which takes it around 24,000 steps depending on your stride.  

Get up and move

For those of us stuck in a chair for most of the day we need to get up whenever we can. Both FItBit and Apple watches remind you to stand up every hour. It is good just walking around the desk for a couple of minutes. When I was in the NHS every hour I would walk down the corridor to the waiting room to eat the next patient. In lock down the screens rolls from on to another. So unless I actively do something I could be sat there for hours.

Different desk set ups 

The alternative to the static low level desk is the rise and fall desk. By simply pressing a button the desk will rise to enable you to work standing up. All the time that you are working standing up the weight transfer from one foot to another as you maintain your balance burns calories and strengthens your core. The same effect comes from using a Pilates ball as a seat instead of a chair. While working at your computer and sitting on a ball your core and back muscles are exercised as the ball moves and you maintain your balance. The movements are small but the effects are great. I have to add the proviso of you need to check with your doctor if you have any underlying issues before climbing on the ball.

What to do next

As we come out of lockdown check your weight and decide what exercise, body movement, regime would work for you. Over all just get moving. Next is the diet. How have your eating habits changed over lockdown? Get rid of all the bad stuff and start to eat well along side your new body movement regime.

5:2 Diet and 800 calorie Diet

I have used both of these eating patterns at different times and I have seen lost of people and clients use them. When used along side a body movement programme they are amazingly effective. It is worth checking them both out. 


Many people around the world will do a yearly or twice yearly detox. I have put the detox programme that I use up as a my resource of this weeks podcast. It is a 13 day exclusion detox. Each day you take out certain categories of food to get done to one day on fruit juice, one day on just honey water and lemon, then one day on fruit juice then a daily re-inclusion of food groups back up to your normal diet. Most people will lose between 5 and 6 pounds in detox. This type of exclusion detox is particularly useful when you wish to stop smoking or drinking etc.

I shall be doing 21 days of the 800 calorie diet in September and an annual detox in October. With that and and my body movement regime that includes walking, running and yoga. I will reclaim my beach body.  


I cannot leave this blog without mentioning Mindfulness. The mindful ability to focus in to the present is so incredibly helpful when attempting any behaviour change, weight adjustment or exercise regime. Check out the mindfulness toolkit on the site.

I know that once I have finished I will go down one size from a 32 waist to a 30 waist. The next trick will be maintaining my resolve through Christmas and if we get really unlucky and go into a second lockdown.

Take care, stay fit and be happy.

Sean x

TSHP376: How to take responsibility for your life

What’s Coming This Episode?

What makes us run from responsibility? What stops us from facing up to the things we need to do? Sean and Ed have a chat about responsibility.

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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Are you responsible for your actions?

In the East they call it karma. This simply means that there is a consequences to your actions. It may be positive or negative it is simply the consequence or the karma of the action that you have taken. The point is that the consequence will happen anyway we have no choice about this. However, we can intervene in our karmic process, this is called Dharma. So, Karma is the consequence of action and Dharma is to act in the right way. In English the nearest word to Dharma is ‘Righteousness’ which means to act in the right way. The philosophy in both Ayurveda and Samkhya is that if you spend your life acting Dharmically you will minimise any negative Karma.

Should we face up to what we do?

In many societies the ability to ‘get away with it’ overrules the need to take responsibility for action. The criminal justice system is full of those who are not prepared to face what they have done. Many people will plead not guilty when they know that they are.

Cause and effect

As the effect, consequences or karma, is a universal law in the end it makes no difference whether or not we take responsibility now we will still be required to pay our debt of negative actions. Equally we will benefit from the consequence or karma from positive actions. We live in a universe of cause and effect.

I have been moved to address this issue in a podcast and a blog when today the news broadcast announced that the American lady who allegedly killed a young man on a motorbike and then flew back to the USA claiming diplomatic immunity has been asked to attend the UK court virtually. Now as this case is alleged we do not know if she is guilty or not. The fact that she ran away and failed to account for her actions does not seem to go in her favour. This leaves the questions ‘why would someone run away’ rather than being accountable?

We have the opposite issue of Prince Andrew who seems to be equally unwilling to go to the USA and answer the allegations being made against him involving the Epstein case.

In Beirut we have recently seen, following an horrendous explosion, the entire government resign. This would seem to be them taking responsibility for their actions and what happened. I am sure that as the story unfolds it will become clearer.

All around us are people who seem to feel that it is okay to act in ways that can hurt or damage other people without taking any responsibility for what they are doing. On social media trolling can be so destructive. Trolling is no different to physical bullying. Bullies, thieves, robbers and muggers all have devastating effects on their victims.

In some countries the law of ‘an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth’ means that the karma is paid back in full measure equally. This would mean that the young men who knowingly towed the police officer on the back of their car until they killed him would have exactly the same done to them.

Karma and Samskars

Have you ever had a tough day, a tough period in life, or felt like nothing else could go wrong and then said ‘I must have been a wicked person in a past life time for this to be happening to me now’? Well you might just be right. The word Dharma means to act in the right way. The word Karma means the consequence of your actions in this life time. The word Samskar means an unresolved karma that was created in a previous lifetime.

We have no way of proving that reincarnation is real but if it is then that means we do not get away with anything, that all debts will have to be paid in full, there are no free lunches, so to speak.

My teacher used to say to me ‘if you are honest there is nowhere you need to run and nothing that you need to hide’. He also said ‘if you act Dharmically in this life time your next life will so much easier’. He explained that the difference between those that were having easy, happy and successful lives were those carrying a light karmic load. Those that were having a difficult, unhappy life were those carrying a heavy karmic load.

In Christianity the concept of repentance suggests that negative karmas can be dissolved if we are genuinely sorry for what we have done. This would assume that we have learned something and seek forgiveness for our actions. Alongside that goes the concept that we should also be able to forgive others for their misdeeds against us.

The bottom line for me is that we are all responsible for what we do, there are no get out clauses. The laws of karma apply to us all whoever we are, politicians, business people, royalty, diplomats, all of us. The nearest that you get to this in Christianity is ‘Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’ or in other words no one gets away with anything. The choice is , do we face up to what we have done now or do we leave it until later? I don’t know if these unpaid karmic debts gain interest and the lessons become harder over time.

Take care, be kind, try to repair any damage that you do or have done, apologise and forgive and try and do the right thing.

Sean x

TSHP375: What is Success?

What’s Coming This Episode?

Success is a funny thing to define. Is it money and fame? Is it comfort and happiness? Is it empathy or struggle? Who knows? Maybe Ed & Sean know… let’s find out!

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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I guess that most of us would hope that both happiness and success are the same thing. Ed came in with an article by Arthur Brooks “Success addicts choose being special over being happy” that got us thinking. The sub title to the article was…

“The pursuit of achievement distracts from the deeply ordinary

activities and relationships that make life meaningful.”

That statement was what connected with me. I have seen so many people over so many years chasing some notion of success while, at the same time, blindly destroying everything around them.  All got trodden underfoot, colleagues, friends, family, loved ones. When someone is truly focussed on success and see their end goal as the most important thing in their life then nothing else really matters.

“What you feed grows and what you starve dies”

In every area of life in every situation the definition of success will vary. It might be the need to have the most money, the biggest house, the best car, to be the most famous ever, to have position and status. Success truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Are you good enough to be successful?

When we drive for success what we are saying, in one way or another, is that what we are or what we do, is not good enough. We feel a need to be different to what we are and to where we are or even who we are. I am not suggesting here that we should not have ambition or a drive for self improvement, these things are good. It is that when we seek to become the best we tend to see what is around us as not the best. That where we are and what we are is not good enough.

There is often a snobbery in people that would see themselves as more successful than others.

The key feature of mindfulness is to be at peace in the present, in the moment.

Be here now

As soon as we crave things that are other than what we are or have in the current moment we disconnect from the present. The craving for what we do not have now can lead to an aversion to what is in the now. This is often the seed of both depression from worrying about the now and anxiety for worrying about the future.

Fashion is often an accessory of perceived success

Often we define people by what they have, what they wear or where they live. Fashion and possessions are a common methods of broadcasting what success we have. designer clothing, the ‘go faster’ car model, the latest phone or iPad, the watch, the sunglasses, it all tells our story of how we see ourself and how we want you to see us.

The wise sage is often depicted in very simple and humble clothes as a demonstration that the inner world of wisdom is so more much important than the outer world ‘hey, look at me’.

Fashion feeds an inability in many people to enjoy their present moment. Their clothes are not good enough, their house is not good enough, their car is not good enough, their friends and social circle are not good enough. The real tough stuff comes when someone feels that…

…I am not good enough.

Any psychologist will tell that it is hard, if not impossible, to be successful when you feel that you are not good enough. Lack of self belief might be emotional with a lack of confidence and self esteem. It could be cognitive as in ‘I am stupid’ or ‘not clever enough’. It could be social ‘I have no friends’ or ‘my friends are good enough’. The one thing that I am seeing all around me now is ‘my body is not good enough’. It used to be that people bounced up and down on yo-yo diets needing several sets of clothes as their weight went form heavy to light and back again. This has scarily turned into a body dis morphia, ‘my body is so bad that it needs to be changed’. The cosmetic surgeons and the beauty clinicians filling people’s faces with Botox and fillers are colluding in, and reinforcing, psychological and emotional damage that could blight an entire generation or more.

Listening to people who are breaking down because their Botox is wearing off or their lips are sagging and need filling because without it they do not feel the self esteem of success and cannot leave the house. Some people cannot leave the house without make up, ‘putting their face on’. We have created so many ways of confirming  to ourselves that we are not good enough. When you are not good enough you will never be, or feel, successful.

What is success?

Ed has problems with my definition that he sees as being too simplistic but, to me a successful person is some who is waking with a smile on their face feeling good about the day that they are about to have and then goes to bed with a smile on their face feeling  good about the day that they have just had. To me being successful is being happy. I have worked with people who are financially, socially and famously successful who are the most miserable people that I have ever met. I have also met people on my travels who have very little other than the joy of their family and their community and they were amazingly happy.

So, for me it is not ‘is success better that happiness? It is, being happy is being successful, without happiness there is no success.

Take sometime, look at your life and ask your self the questions, ‘am I happy?’ ‘Am I successful?’

One thing that I have observed is that people that do things that make them happy often create success at the same time.

Take care

Sean x

TSHP374: The Year of the Staycation

What’s Coming This Episode?

We talk about holidays about this time every year. The ups and downs of spending times away from our homes, our desks and our routine comes with ups and downs. This year the pandemic has brought a new dimension as many seek to swap Ibiza with Abersoch or Marseille with Cornwall. Let’s dive in and find out how to make the best of our ‘staycation’ in 2020.

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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Big question – Is it selfish to go on holiday abroad during the Covid Pandemic?

Between the 1950s and the 1970s Britains favourite holiday destination was Britain. The West Country was heaving with people, not only from the UK but, from all over the world. The area of Torbay was known as ‘The English Riviera’. B&Bs, hotels, caravan parks and campsites were bursting at the seams. Then came cheap air travel and cheaper holidays in poorer countries such as Spain and Greece. With the marketing for cheap flights to cheap hotels and guaranteed sunshine in Spain, “I’m off to sunny Spain” they all sang, the bottom started to fall out of the British holiday market. Could this be the time for the British holiday to come back?

When all that there was, was staycations the road systems in the UK were so bad that to get to Devon from London took long over eight hours. It was easier to set out at 11pm the night before, drive overnight, and arrive for breakfast in a cafe the next morning. Most people would get the train, it was easier and often quicker. Actually, not so many people owned a car then. The railways ran a service where the would collect your luggage from your home. Your luggage would then be sent down to your destination a few days before you left. It would be there waiting for you at your hotel when you arrived. At the end of the holiday the reverse happened and your luggage arrived at your home a few days after your return.

The Council Estates would empty out onto the holiday trains going to Kent, Norfolk, Devon, Cornwall and so on. Train seats would be booked in advance. The best were with a table, where we could sit as a family, play games and watch the countryside rush by the window. It felt like such a big occasion, a real adventure. These days it seems that we do not feel that we have had a holiday unless we have been abroad which usually means taking a plane.

I have only recently really realised the cost to the environment of air travel. The carbon footprint of a long hall holiday, especially in a jumbo jet, would require you to plant seven trees to compensate for it. Considering that I was flying to the Middle East for one week every month I owe the planet a Forrest!

The Real Staycation

The real staycation meant staying at home for the six weeks of the summer holiday. Some of us on the Council Estate could not always afford a holiday even in the UK. There was that embarrassing moment in September when we returned to school and the first thing we were asked to do was write an essay “What we did on our summer holiday”. We overcame the problem by describing what we had as “days out”. Then followed a fictitious account of what would have happened if we had been able to afford to got to the zoo, the Natural History Museum and so on. When we had to read these out to the class those that enjoyed endless trips to the seaside would look sadly at us describing our ‘days out’, we all knew that we hadn’t been anywhere.

There was a time when people worked seven days a week and the only time that they had off were the ‘Holy Days’ of the religious calendar. Eventually Holy Days turned into Holidays and the Holiday industry began. As the train network developed people went to Spa towns to ‘take the water’. In the south Brighton and Blackpool in the north became holiday destinations of choice. Gradually people by the sea or by lakes realised the sales potential of holidays for workers from the factories and the Bed and Breakfast industry was born. Then came the Hotels with star ratings, started by the AA, from two stars to five. Then came the package holiday and the trips abroad.

Is it selfish to holiday abroad at the moment?

We have just witnessed the holiday makers who rushed to Spain as soon as the lockdown was eased, only to find that they were in another wave of infections leading to their return flights being postponed. Holidays cut short and potential for ten days of isolation on their return as they could be bringing the Covid infection back with them and become infection spreaders. Is it too early to return to holidays until we know that the infection has passed? Is it selfish to go abroad on holiday? Should we be deciding to settle for a real staycation?

Holidays in the Uk make sense to me provided that we take sensible precautions and attend to sanitisation. Not travelling too far would make sense for two reasons. One limiting the spread to areas that have been low risk and reducing our carbon foot print.

The ultimate staycation

Many of us, during lockdown, have been having the ultimate staycation. This has been good for some and a horror for others. How did you get on? The are also many people who either from choice or anxiety will remain in a shielded lockdown for weeks or months to come. Some people have told me that they will not be leaving their home until the New Year. Others have developed agoraphobia and fear leaving their home due to the infection. Some have said that will not go out again until a vaccine is in place. That would probably mean that some people will end up being in ultimate staycation for over twelve months.

One thing that I am hearing about is the redevelopment of community. Groups of people, neighbours, family and friends gathering in small community groups for a picnic, bring your own food, and a chat. Some have been so successful that they are becoming weekly events. People are helping each other out from going to the shops to offering technical support, baking treats and delivering them to friends and neighbours. Could this be the start of a new community based awareness?

One of the things that I have learned during the period of lockdown is how beautiful the place that I live is. On our walks and bike rides we have discovered tracks, byways and cycle paths that were unknown to us. These have introduced us to whole areas all around us that we never even knew existed.

Here is a question that occurs to me, Why do we go on holiday in the summer? If we are going to take a flight to somewhere warm why don’t we do it in the dark months of winter when we could really benefit from a vitamin D boost? Perhaps we could spend the summer holidays actually enjoying where we live and getting to know it better.

Whatever you do this summer take care, stay safe and be happy

Sean x