Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are You Afraid of the Big Bad Carrot?

Reading a few nutritional posts this morning I saw the same tired, old advice doled out....Avoid carrots because they are high on the glycaemic index.
My first reaction was to do what has become my usual reaction when reading posts like this: 1) click the close button, 2) Yawn, 3) Think; "How freakin' boring"...

But when I considered that one of the sites spouting this drivel is one of the most well read health sites on the net...and one that many of my clients read, I figured that I could at least throw my 2 cents into the ring...

We have become SCARED by food!

Don't eat carrots because of a high GI rating!?
Give me a break!

YES carrots have a high GI rating. But as I have lectured on numerous times at conferences around the world and at several prominent universities we cannot get hung up on just one indicator of food quality. It is the total quality of what we eat that is important - not just picking and choosing indices (such as GI, GL, ID or leptin effect) that denote a complete and healthy diet.

Take an average large carrot containing around 7 grams of carbohydrates. As a carbohydrate/vegetable option ANYONE who is moderately active and eating a healthy diet on the whole is going to more than adequately be able to deal with that load. Especially when you consider that it does take a little time to eat a carrot!
But therein lies one of the problems - people aren't active and they aren't active in the way they need to be (lifting, pulling and pushing a variety of heavy things; moving in different directions; walking long distances; sprinting intermittently...)

A carrot is extremely nutritionally robust; high in antioxidants (including vitamin C and beta-carotene) and to my mind provides a great additional to a meal, a post-workout snack option or even just a sweet treat that has many, many nutritional and health benefits.

I feel again that people are missing the point. A carrot is real food....as are most natural, whole and unprocessed foods - particularly the ones that can be eaten in their raw state. It is not carrots (or dates, or bananas for that matter) that are making our population fatter and less healthy; it is all the highly processed, refined and denatured CRAP that people fill themselves with every day....I think they'd be better off eating a carrot...

 I will continue to run barefoot, lift extremely heavy things - and throw them around! I'll use my body as a viable means of transport over long distances, AND I'll keep on eating carrots, bananas and dates....

7 grams of high GI carbs....as I said before: boring. Next topic.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cliff featured on the Everyday Spirits Blog Talk Radio Show

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mo and Bee at the Every Day Spirits blog talk radio show and have a great (and fun!) chat about my first book: "Choosing You!", my upcoming book: "Time Rich. Cash Optional" and various other topics...namely meditation, mindfulness, how to become a 'life artist' and generally how to live the shit out of life!

Thanks Mo and Bee!

[Full show below]

Listen to internet radio with Mo Bee on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Living the Shit Out of Life...

I was talking with my Sister the other day.
She was in a bit of a funk and I had my 'counselor Cliff' hat on. (She often has her Counselor Char hat on for me too!)
As she was about to head off to work I said - "You know what Char - today can you do just one thing for me?...."
To which she replied "OK....what's that?...."

Clients and friends of mine will know that this is a spin on a favourite affirmation of mine.
And whilst not being awfully 'PC' - doesn't it so perfectly, and vociferously encapsulate the idea (in no uncertain terms) of living...REALLY living life and living it to the full, with passion and purpose.
You can't be half hearted about LIFE if your are really living the shit out of it!

I am reminded of the audio book "Wild at Heart" by Tessa Bielecki  - the wonderful Carmelite nun who, when speaking about mindfulness and being complete in the moment, recalls Zorba the Greek asking himself "What am I doing now?"; with the idea that whatever he is doing, he should REALLY do that.

I often ask the same question...

And the answer can always be: I am doing the shit out of something! (Whatever that something is.)

The other day I was walking to work (yes....I often walk to work...) and I found myself worrying about something quite inconsequential...and something that I had no control over in that moment.
So I stopped myself and asked "What am I doing now?"
The reply of course was; "I am WALKING the SHIT out of this path!"
And just after slipping back into a more mindful, and purposeful state I looked down and narrowly avoided stepping in a BIG pile of dog crap.
So by walking the shit out of that path I literally avoided stepping in shit! Awesome! :)

My question to you is: Are you living the shit out of life?

And if not, why not?

Because let's face it - it's easy to be alive. Alive is the default.
You didn't need to do much to wake up this morning...
But to live, to really LIVE - well that takes the courage to choose to do it, to accept that you may have to step outside the norm and to really, really LIVE THE SHIT OUT OF LIFE!
So....just F'in do it!

~ Cliff


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carry Your Scars Well...

I had an ex-girlfriend who told me: "If you hadn't had all those broken noses your face would be too boring..."

"In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade, and he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down..."
~ The Boxer [Simon and Garfunkel]

We all have our scars, and each of them tell a story.
They are the physical remnants of our past and the reminders that we can actually 'see'.
Of course we have mental scars from our wounds (both mental and physical) too.
These wounds and resulting scars are all part of the grand journey that is life. If we are to honour ourselves and value our journey we must also begin to honour our scars. We must begin to 'carry our scars well'.

Within an archetype of the warrior (male or female) scars can almost be seen as badges of honour for battles well fought.
They can also be the reminders of naivety, ignorance and stupidity and serve to help keep us safe in future (if we only pay attention to the learning!) and where they still pain us they can be the messages from the body saying "Hey - there's some more learning to do here!"

And in whatever form they currently are they can become those signs that show where we have been, and when we have come to peace with the journey that has been, and the journey that is ahead, we can begin to 'wear our scars well'...in peace.

Plus chicks dig scars....

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Against the Odds ~ Battling Crohn's Disease to Become a Triathlete.

Guest Post by Ari Meisel

When you’re lying in a hospital bed, overcome by wave after wave of excruciating pain, the last thing you can imagine is ever being drug-free, let alone training to become an endurance athlete.

Four years ago I was unceremoniously given a diagnosis for Crohn’s Disease, and what was predicted
to be a life-long drug regimen complete with severe and entirely undesirable side effects. Crohn’s
Disease, which is currently incurable, is a disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal system,
but typically shows up in the form of constricted intestines. Frequent (as in, every 15 minutes) trips to
the bathroom, severe pain, malnutrition, and the danger of obstructions when food gets stuck, make life
At the time my doctor called, I had just started dating the girl who was to become my wife, absolutely the
last thing you need when you are embarking on a new relationship, and are supposed to be enjoying every
second of each other’s company. That and the fact that discussing your stomach problems is difficult at
the best of times, let alone to a girl you like, let alone when your drugs are inducing daily nausea, hairloss
and steroid induced aggression. My own body was my enemy and I was in a deep, dark hole for a
long time.
For those around me it must have been distressing. I had grown up as someone who loved life, loved
challenges, could see opportunities and seize them. I started my first company at the age of 12, and after
graduating a year early from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, moved to Binghamton
to spend the next three years working eighteen hour days learning every kind of construction trade
imaginable, so that I could convert a number of run-down historic cigar factories I had managed to buy,
into luxury lofts.

Although I was in my early twenties and exerting myself each and every day, I was drinking every night
after work, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, and surviving almost exclusively on fast food. It’s hard
to know what causes Crohn’s, and it’s been suggested that a combination of lifestyle factors can lead to
the appearance of the disease. However, in my mind there was no doubt that the stresses of my lifestyle
at that time contributed to my diagnosis, and I knew that if I was to get through the years ahead, it would
all be down to improving my health and becoming as physically fit as possible.
I’d been on the track team at school, but had always hated running, and after rupturing my patella tendon
rock-climbing, hadn’t been to a gym in years. I decided to begin my new fitness regime by purchasing a
Wii Fit.
It sounds silly, but if you haven’t worked out in a long time, the program is an ideal way to become
accustomed to the idea of working out. I’d get up at 6am everyday and stumble into the living room
to exercise, and after three months decided I should step it up and go back to the gym. I was still
experiencing pain everyday and constantly fatigued, and despite moving up to a weight training program,
bench pressing 220 pounds, was still overweight and dissatisfied with my progress.
Another visit to the Emergency Room after yet another obstruction, and a warning that I would most
likely need surgery to remove part of my intestines sent my head spinning. After a lucky escape, and a
chance viewing of a TV advert for the Insanity Workout, I vowed to get back on my fitness program and
take control of my body once and for all.
An hour’s worth of reverse interval training, in sports specific drills is enough to bring even a fit person to
their knees by the end, but in my state, it took only thirty minutes before I collapsed on the floor, gasping
for air. Sheer determination kept me going and by the end of the first week I could make it through a full
hour. Two months later I had lost thirty pounds, my blood pressure and cholesterol had dropped more
than 20% and my resting heart-rate had dropped from eighty-two to sixty.
Next came yoga. Anna, who was by then my wife, had decided to become certified as a yoga instructor
and open her own studio. While I had managed to manage my pain, and avoid any further hospital visits,
I was still on a lot of drugs and wanted to take a more holistic route. With three, four, sometimes five
practices a week, the twisting motions would massage my internal organs, the inversions stimulated
blood-flow and nervous system, and the overall calming effect of yoga had an immediate and profound
effect on my mental state, as well as my body. On my own I started to reduce my drug intake.
Over the next few months my life was transformed. I started practicing Krav Maga, the Israeli martial
art (incidentally, there is nothing quite so cathartic as landing a perfectly aimed kick at someone’s liver)
and training as an EMT. It was during these studies that my classmate Jonathan, a veteran triathlete,
convinced me that I should set myself a goal, a real competition, and we decided to enter the Mighty
Montauk Triathalon.
Soon I was getting up at 5am, to bike, run, or swim, go to the studio for yoga or krav maga or teach my
own cardio conditioning class, part of my own training but a complete hit with my friends, who had
caught my enthusiasm for the workouts. With Anna now qualified as a Holistic Health Counsellor,
I changed to a vegetarian diet and overnight stopped taking all my Crohn’s medicine. No symptoms
returned, I was no longer fatigued, and even my seasonal allergies had disappeared!
Endurance sport is about mental strength as much as it is about physical conditioning. The body is
extremely resourceful, and much more resilient than we imagine. Race day quickly arrived and diving
into the lake for the 1-mile swim, I just pushed myself as hard as I could. “You’re swimming farther
than you’ve ever swum before”, is all I kept thinking. The bike ride went by in a flash and I was into
the run. By the last mile every part of my body wanted to quit, “You good? PUSH THE BUTTON
BABY!!” yelled Jonathan who had appeared at my side. I listened, and pushed.
Completing the race in 2 hours 37 minutes, the feeling was indescribable. On every level the road to the
finish line had been hard, but somehow I had made it. The mental and physical freedom from illness sent
me soaring, and it’s a lesson I constantly pass on to others. It’s about finding what it is that drives you
and then amplifying it until you become an unstoppable force. The committed mind cannot be overcome,
so don’t let anybody, least of all your own body, tell you that you cannot do something.
Next up for me, Ironman France. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike-ride and a marathon. Think I’m crazy?
Just watch me do it! 


Ari will be competing in Ironman France on June 26, 2011. He’s a member of the board of the
Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. For more information visit www.ccfa.org

Incidentally Ari, amongst his many business ventures writes one of my favourite blogs (www.lessdoing.com) and is an all around great guy!
I can relate to his story as I too came back from the ravages of Crohn's Disease to win 2 World Titles in All-Round Weightlifting and set several World records for feats of strength.
You can recover and live the life of your dreams. Ari's done it, I've done it. Now it's your turn! :)

~ Cliff

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What do you do?...

My buddy Paul Hemsworth calls me a "Happiness Coach".
BTW - He's a Strength Coach...and a damn good one!
This is one of the questions that for those of us without a 'job' is often the hardest to answer...

To this day I am still stopped for a second when someone asks this.
Several options flash through my mind in a heart beat: Naturopath, Nutritionist, Life Coach, Mentor, Author....
But none of these really sum up completely what I do, and perhaps no definition really can.
I've heard it said that if you can really define what you do then you're not unique...in other words you are expendable, replaceable and not an artist.
And I certainly don't take offence as some do when asked this question - for it is fascinating to discover what others do, most especially when they are living something that they are truly passionate about and have in the words of my great friend Julien Emery achieved the 'integration of work, life and play...'

Readers of this blog may have the best insight into what I really do....

And that is to help people to be happier. Plain, simple and to the point.

I was talking with one of my dearest friends about the conundrum of 'what we do' last week whilst he was here visiting from Canada. His succinct description was "You're a Happiness Coach".. My initial thought was that it was a a little flowery...a little 'airy fairy!' But the more I thought about it I realized that it's quite beautifully simple!

You see I equate health of the body with happiness of the body; health of the mind with happiness of the mind; and health of the spirit with happiness of the spirit.
Both health and happiness ultimately require some level of 'connection' with the world around us and all that it entails, and health and happiness of the entire mind-body-spirit complex requires the provision of great, healthful 'food' (not just the stuff we put into our mouths!) for the body, and for the mind and the soul.
 (That might be why I'm so fond of saying to my clients that the coffee and cake that I enjoy on a Sunday is food for my soul!)

So I don't necessarily see any difference between helping someone to eat more effectively, coaching someone to achieve their goals, or using therapeutic modalities to help them release negative and self limiting beliefs. In fact the modalities I use are all tools that work effectively well together to help people to realise a life of greater satisfaction and fulfillment.

I often think that ANYONE who does something they love is in fact working as a conduit, in their own inimitable way, to make people happier. An artist provides an emotional response in the viewers of his or her art, a coach helps someone to achieve some of the goals that enrich their life and an author provokes that same visceral response through their writing. At the end of the day the passion and love that is translated through our work is received by our client/reader/patient etc and becomes their love, their joy....and yes...their happiness.

So I think I'm cool with it....
Perhaps next time someone asks me what I do I'll say "I'm a Happiness Coach!"...

[Book for a consultation with Cliff and get your 1st 30min FREE with this Google coupon!]