7. Control Your Mind

IMPORTANT: This blog represents just PART of a WHOLE journey. You’ll get the most out of it if you start from the beginning.

It’s 2018… Let’s start with a quick recap as to where the story’s at so far… 

…I was a personal trainer who owned a gym with my personal trainer brother.  We taught our clients that even though they don’t need to be thin, it’s probably healthier to be.  Our philosophy was that the best path to health and happiness is eating and moving in moderation whilst respecting your body by being gentle with it.  And even though my very own eyeballs showed me the evidence that this way of life is practically impossible for most people (including myself) to stick to, like most gyms, we just kept giving it out anyway.  Our advice to people who couldn’t keep it up was to try and create better habits and design a stress-free life. 

Obviously, not all of that 2018 advice held up!  Yet the majority of the Fitness and Weight Loss Industry is still repeating it despite real evidence showing that it isn’t helping to fix our problems. 

So there I am, merrily doing my thing, thinking I’m all cool in my “Gym Instructor” hoody, until… BAMMM!  Life did its thing and took a massive turn.  The landlord of the building the gym was in decided he wanted to turn it into residential housing.  My gym closed for good. 

Even though the closure wasn’t unexpected (aside from the landlord issue, our finances weren’t looking too hot anyway), it still came as a shock.  No one ever expects life’s twists and turns, no matter how obvious in coming they are.  It’s only when things go wrong do people realise how shaky their mental and physical foundations really are.  And when those foundations are built on low self-esteem and fake confidence like mine was, any unexpected or big event can be devastating. 

My 35th birthday was spent clearing the last of our sh*t from the gym and handing back the keys to the building.  I was so lost.  So, I did what any normal person would do when they don’t know what to do…  I leaned heavily onto every ‘solution’ my emotional toolbox had at the time: food, alcohol, my sofa, and sh*tty TV. 

And the solutions worked well – in the short term at least.  They let me completely ignore how broken I felt.  I convinced myself (read: lied to myself) that my mental health was totally fine, and as long as my next project was successful, my life would be totally fine too. 

My next project was to be online fitness coaching.  It was just becoming a big thing, so I paid for an expensive course and qualified as an online personal trainer, as well as completing a bunch of ‘very important’ training in things like advanced nutrition and biomechanics.  As far as I was concerned, my fitness knowledge was higher than it ever had been.  But none of these helped the personal problem that I, the coach, was having trouble motivating myself to get back into movement after I stopped working. 

Up until this point in my life, I’d never really had to try that hard to stay fit and active.  My career as a fitness professional has meant I’ve always been surrounded by training equipment and have always moved a lot simply because of the incidental exercise done whilst teaching classes, demonstrating exercises, and moving equipment.  It never really made any difference to me whether I took part in a strict training programme or not.  But now, sitting in my flat surrounded by empty crisp bags, wine bottles, and creeping depression, for the first time ever I began to feel unfit. 

No amount of fitness knowledge, willpower hacks, small daily habits, or fitness quotes motivated me to get moving.  I wanted to smash my phone every time a smiley Insta-trainer told me to “Do something today your future self will thank you for!”.  My current self was firmly in charge and couldn’t give two f*cks what my future self might want.  Turns out that good intentions, logic, and willpower suck in convincing an unwilling mind to do something it doesn’t want to.   

Not only did my own body feel like cr*p, but my business head recognised a major flaw in my plans for future success… how the hell could I hope to convince an online client to want to do my fitness programme when I couldn’t even convince myself.  How could I become more “Get up and Grind” than lay down and cry? 

What I had to do became obvious: Learn how to control my mind and force that depressed f*cker to do what was good for it.  So, I turned to my other -slightly more useful – emotional tool…  learning my way out of a problem.  I grabbed as many books as I could on mindset and happiness and got to reading. 

I could easily spend thousands of pages right now summarising what I learned from those books, but I’m not one to reinvent the wheel and parrot what best-selling authors have already said so eloquently (the outsourcing part of The Four-Hour work week has clearly stuck with me!)…  

…instead, here are some links to the book summaries from just a few of the books I read at the time.  I really loved these especially, as they suited my very logical and science-led brain and explained how my mind works in ways I’d never heard before. 

From them, I discovered that my thoughts aren’t necessarily an accurate reflection of the world and that by taking a step back and looking at these thoughts rationally, I could choose which were useful and which I could ignore and tell to “f*ck off” to.  And honestly, I could have just left my learning there. Even those few books changed my mindset for the better by incredible margins. 


…randomly, whilst learning all the new brain stuff, an old school friend was building a new business as a mindset coach and I happened across some of her social media content.  This, by contrast to the books, was all very manifest-y, gratitude-y, affirmation-y.  You know the kind of thing.   

Up until this point, I believed that only logical, evidence-based, peer-reviewed information held any truth to it, and anything else was just pseudo-science bullsh*t.  But for some reason, I kept watching her videos.  The more I heard her say, the more it started to make sense.  Obviously, I knew that all science was fact, but does that mean that all pseudo-science was false? What if it wasn’t? What if that could hold some truth as well?  Could both be true? 

Below are a few links to more of a pseudo-science approach to mindset.   I’d highly recommend you take the time to watch them, especially if like me at the time, you automatically think all pseudo-science is complete cr*p.   

Being able to approach subjects with an open mind, and having the ability to create an unbiased space for views that differ from your own is going to become more and more important in these blogs, so this is a good test.  If you can’t open your mind now to the potential that there’s more than one way to look at the world, then honestly, I’d stop reading this blog immediately.  You’re going to remain as conditioned and compliant to the current systems as you are now, meaning that your results are likely to remain the same too. 

So, what do you think?  What would happen if you allowed your mind the possibility that the world we see around us could be of our own making?  What if you removed the automatic negative associations with the words, ‘pseudo-science’?

Personally, I loved the mixture of pseudo and ‘real’ science that I now had mingling in my brain, and I spent a lot of time deep-diving into loads of different elements of it.  I played with mindfulness, meditation, conscious awareness, manifestation, gratitude, affirmations, the Gaia Network, and more.  I ended up being coached by my mindset coach friend and went on a couple of her retreats (Emily Chadbourne, Unashamedly Human if you want to look her up).  I even became a neurolinguistic programming coach.  I approached every new experience with an open mind and a willingness to learn something new and allowed the possibility that every new thing I learned had the power to change me. Many didn’t. But a f*ck tonne really did! 

A lot of what I learned back has changed. I had to do a lot more learning and adapt a lot of the concepts. For example, I don’t now believe that you can just wish hard and manifest anything you want.  And I don’t just squash down every negative thought or ban anyone from my life who annoys me as many mindset coaches teach.  I don’t post ‘positivity’ memes and pretend like everything’s going to be fine all the time. F*ck that privileged toxic positivity bullsh*t. Life can still suck. But they do serve as a good introduction to the topic. But don’t worry, the rest of what I’ve learned will come up in future chapters of this story. 

In the meantime, my story has moved on to 2019. I moved back home to Somerset to be closer to my family again.  And whilst at my parent’s house, I happened to find an intuitive eating book.  It was the first time I’d come across this crazy new way of eating, and next time I’m going to share how that changed the course of my life (as well as why I now think intuitive eating might not be right for many people). 

Before I go, grab your fancy notebook, and use it to think through these concepts… 

  • What type of world have you created for yourself? Are your thoughts, reactions, and habitual ways of behaving creating a positive life full of potential, or a negative self-fulfilling prophecy? 
  • What beliefs have our culture has conditioned you to see as the truth, and why do you think it has done so… To make you a happier more content human?  To sell you more things?  To get you to comply? 
  • What could you do today to act or think differently which would have an impact, no matter how tiny, on your world? 

I’d love to hear any thoughts you want to share. 

And please don’t forget that if this blog has been useful to you in any way then please do share it with a like-minded person.  Also, I’m not writing this to make any money, but if you did want to buy me a coffee by clicking this link, I’d be forever grateful for the love. 

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