Imagine a football team that learns to precisely execute three amazing plays over and over until they can do it with their eyes closed.

They win the championship because they’re so well drilled and their defensive plays make sure they rarely ever concede a goal.

They’re good enough to score one or two goals most games so 95% of the time they win.

One day the coaches from the other teams start to unleash their own plays which can break down the defence of the champions.

The problem now is the team is so well drilled and versed the defensive plays that they can’t help but keep going back to them when under pressure.

No matter how they try though, they’re just not effective any more.

The situations they face have changed and no matter how much they complain, argue with each other and try to force the same plays to work, times have changed.

What protected and served them so well is now the very thing that stops them progressing.

This has been the downfall of many top sports teams and businesses who were resistant to change.

It is also what you probably do day in and day out when you’re under pressure from work, relationships, money issues and so on.

As a child/teenager you developed defence strategies to deal with ‘attacks’ that you faced on a daily basis.

Maybe you ate sweets to feel better about bullying.

Maybe you always followed the crowd and did whatever your friends wanted so that you would fit in.

Maybe you did anything in your power to avoid gym class because you got called ‘fatty’.

Maybe you had to be THE best at everything in order to avoid a telling off from your parents (or to simply get their attention).

At the time, this stuff probably worked to make you feel better about stuff.

We do whatever it takes to avoid anything that makes us feel threatened (physically and psychologically).

That’s great…until now.

Now you want to get a set of abs or a tight butt but it feels like you feel like a spider trying to get out of a jar!

Around April last year, due to a totally unforeseen incident, I had to close my gym – the business that had been ‘me’ for 10 years.

Since then I’ve travelled around Utah, California, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia and I’m currently sat drinking a really crappy coffee in Vietnam.

While I’m getting out and experiencing a pretty amazing world, I’m still working with personal clients online and it’s amazing how differently I see things and see the stories playing out in their lives, now that I am in a much more open mind space myself.

It’s like watching two horses pull on a chain in opposite directions.

See the nutrition and training plans I have work – there is no doubt.

It’s science.

The problem for most people lies in actually putting what’s on paper into practice.

One part of their head says, “I want to lose weight / drop fat / build muscle / run a marathon” while the other is telling twenty stories about why it’s a bad idea to go to the gym, hire a coach or miss the weekly pub session and how they can’t afford the time or money (despite spending hours on Facebook or watching TV and buying new clothes, make up and things for their house).

All of these stories are rooted in coping mechanisms seeded years and years ago.

Too many people live in a constant state of reactive tension and playing out the same story lines in everything you do even though they don’t work.

It’s like when your computer tells you to update the software but you ‘don’t have time’ and so spend hours getting frustrated because your computer won’t do what you want fast enough.

If you won’t change the software on the computer, don’t get frustrated when the hardware won’t work as you’d like!

No matter how many times you hit the computer (berate your body), turn it on and off (drugs and alcohol), reboot it (go on some magic two week holiday to the sun) or buy new games (the latest, greatest fitness fads and workouts), you are NOT going to make it work any more effectively.

So how do we change the software?

It requires re-writing the stories in your head.

It’s simple, but surprisingly difficult.

We’ve all seen the reactions when science debunks religious myths.

Those who have lived by those stories can’t deal with it.

Their protective methods and guidance systems are shattered.

You’re questioning everything they ‘know’ and have based their life on which leaves a scary black hole for them to walk into if they choose to listen.

Resistance is extreme and the reactions often violent.

Your brain will do the same when you try to re-write the story so be ready to do this!

If I said to you “Everyone should go travelling”, immediately your stories will kick in and you will start to argue about any and every reason why you can’t, all of which eventually boil down to personal choice and stories you’re telling yourself about money, why your kids are better in school than learning the lessons of the world, how ‘wise’ it is to keep your house, how you won’t find another job like the one you have, why it’s unsafe etc etc.

THEY ARE ALL STORIES.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve had travelling is that if you want to change and you want to live by a different set of values, it is virtually impossible to do it around the same people who have been around to this point.

I love my home island of Guernsey.

Unfortunately, the reality I see when thousands of miles away is that whilst there are many amazing people, the overwhelming attitude is one of a 9-5 grind waiting for the weekend, waiting for the two weeks of sunshine we seem to get each year, getting on the property ladder to prove you’ve ‘made it’ then working to defend the ‘stuff’ that well-paid jobs can provide.

That’s not specific to Guernsey obviously but with property costing so much, it’s kind of inevitable and it’s the story I’ve been part of until now.

It makes many lives like a miserable cage and then people come to coaches like me to try and get out by ‘losing weight’.

It’s kinda crazy when you think about it!

Sure being fit and healthy will make the whole process much easier but it can be like building a house on quick sand!

It’s hard to get out of because when everyone else is doing it, you will eventually soak up the same attitudes unless you pay minute-by-minute attention to the stories you’re telling yourself and allowing other people around you to tell you.

Your environment WILL shape you no matter how independent / strong or whatever that you think you are.

It’s human nature to want to fit in so you will eventually do whatever it takes to fit the mould, or walk away.

The answer is to take some time (more than five minutes sat in the rush hour traffic) to decide what your values really are and what kind of life will let you be at ease, be happy and do the things you want to do.

Note I say ‘do’, not have!

Since I started to travel I’ve found a lot of people who don’t value houses, cars and other forms of ownership but instead work with different currencies like experience and connect.

Don’t worry I’m not turning all hippie on you but I know now that I can be just as happy with a rucksack and a few possessions as when I was living in my apartment with a nice Audi parked outside!

The place to start is to brutally trim your environments and the people around you.

You can be sure that you are living your life a lot like they are and if that’s not helping you be happy, no training program or nutrition plan is going to make any difference.

You MUST start eliminating stuff and people that just gets in the way.

This isn’t selfish because when your energy levels surge you become a lot more useful to everyone around you as well as yourself.

I lost a lot of money and sanity due to the gym closure, but I’ve gained wealth I would never have had by just trying to be a successful businessman.

This was VERY hard to get my head around but the more I travel and let things unravel, the clearer things become.

Sometimes a loss is the very thing you needed to make space for what you really wanted.

The more the cup is emptied the more new people and opportunities appear – ones that really excite you and give you really inspiring reasons to get ripped, lose body fat, be super strong or whatever else you say you want but can’t rev yourself up for.

You will not really appreciate this until you start clearing out people, stuff and things you do week on week simply because of habit and saying “Yes” to too many people because you have no direction of your own.

If you’re feeling stuck right now, the solution is not to seek out more solutions from other people.

The answer will lie in ’emptying the cup’ and living by your personal values.

What are you expecting to happen when you give all the hours of your day away?

  • Checking emails on someone else’s schedule
  • Answering WhatsApp group chats about…nothing in particular
  • Thinking about what a dick your ex was/is
  • Scrolling Instagram wishing you had a body like ‘them’ (even though you know it’s photoshopped)
  • Checking any number of notifications from all your Apps
  • Running errands that aren’t really that important and could wait
  • Worrying about what might happen in a year
  • Reading Facebook articles
  • Watching other people’s lives on TV
  • Drowning your sorrows to forget stuff that happened today which you won’t even recall in a few months.
  • Eating food that puts you even further back

It has become surprisingly easy for me to simply say…

“My values are Fitness, Fun and Adventure. Does this fit and does it serve what I said I wanted to do?”

It only gets complicated when you let the old stories or assumptions about the future get in the way of Yes or No!

Some people would disagree with my decisions and that’s cool because their values (or stories) say something else, but that’s the fun part of being different!

Sooner or later, the solution will appear because now it can.

Until then you’re living like our football champions.

What you ‘know’ and the stories you play out are no longer serving you, even if they did before.

Stop hanging with people who don’t move you closer to what you dream about.

Stop doing a £100k job you hate just to pay for a house that’s three times bigger than you need, a car that just costs loads to look after and booze, drugs and holidays to escape the stress.

Work on your inner environments too.

You will move towards what you focus on.

If you’re telling yourself you are too fat/skinny/ugly/poor/stupid/shy/stressed to start moving forward, that’s exactly where you’ll find yourself.

Your actions gravitate towards making reality out of what you think about most so you have to be totally aware in all situations about what story you’re telling yourself about what’s about to happen.

“I won’t speak up at work because that girl in marketing ALWAYS shoots me down”

“I won’t ask that guy out because he’ll DEFINITELY say no”

“I’m scared of the gym because it’s full of meat heads who will eat my arm for extra protein”

“I’m so stressed and the wine and ice cream will make it all okay…”

This is why improving your life through health and fitness really is a full time job.

It’s not three workouts a week.

It’s not a salad for lunch.

It’s not a ketogenic diet.

It’s not something I can give you in a PDF.

It’s slowly building a new reality with everything you think and do.

It’s telling yourself a new story with enough conviction and for long enough.

It’s designing new plays that you practise every single day until it’s habit…

…but accepting that things will eventually change and new plays will be required BUT BASED ON THE SAME VALUES.

It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect and not have treats and lazy hours on the sofa.

It’s just about tuning into what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

Is this helping me get what I want or is just playing out the old stories again?

The old stories will likely never go away completely so you have to stay aware and be relentless about guarding what goes into your eyes and ears and what you allow yourself to revert back to.

I appreciate this is weird coming from me as a fitness coach but if you’re stuck, forget the workouts, forget the nutrition and start with having someone root out what stories you’re telling yourself.

Re-write the story book and you’ll find the six-packs, low body fat and muscles aren’t too far away.