Sugar: what happens when we eat it and why cravings are so much worse in the afternoons

Sugar: what happens when we eat it and why cravings are so much worse in the afternoons

What happens to your body (and brain!) when you eat something sugary?

And why are sugar cravings always so much worse in the afternoon and evening than then were in the morning (when you were feeling motivated and focused on your goals!)?

Nutrition is a minefield of controversy, contradiction and cult-like followers of the latest diet.

But one thing that most sane people agree on is that eating too much sugar is bad for us.

I’m assuming here I’m not telling you something you didn’t already know, so let’s cut to the chase.

This 10 minute sugar video explains:

– How we become addicted to sugar

– When insulin drives down our blood sugar levels… where does all that sugar go?!

– Why all that ‘energy’ can actually make us feel sluggish and lethargic

– How sleep, ‘decision fatigue’ and stress all make us more susceptible to caving in to the cravings

Why your willpower drops off a cliff in the afternoons

Why your willpower drops off a cliff in the afternoons

Some people seem to have more willpower than others, but is that really the case?

Do you ever wake up in the morning full of resolve to ‘be good’ only to give in to something mid-afternoon and then write off the rest of the day?

If you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health this can be a bit of a problem and we often put it down to a lack of willpower.

But willpower is like a battery, and it depletes through the course of the day.

The more decisions you have to make and the more stress you are under, the quicker the battery drains until you dip below your ‘people tolerance’ threshold and drive your wagon off the edge of a cliff.

One of the best ways to make sure your resolve lasts right the way through the day is to start paying attention to the quality of your sleep.

The Broken Sleep Cycle

After a busy day – especially one that has been fuelled by copious amounts of caffeine – we usually want a bit of time in the evening to unwind and relax.

The TV goes on, smart phones come out and we double screen our way through another Netflix binge-watch.

A lot has been written about how a ‘morning routine’ can set you up for a productive day.

But a more structured evening routine that promotes higher quality sleep can be just as effective.

Improve your willpower

Here are a few ideas for how you can start to improve your evening routine and sleep quality:

– Switch off screens earlier (especially social media!)

– Do all your ‘chores’ before you sit down to relax

– Bring your lights out time a little earlier

– Take a magnesium supplement an hour before bed

– Write down 3-5 things you have been grateful for during the day just before you switch out the lights

– Take a warm bath or shower in the evening

– Read a (fiction) book for a few minutes in bed

– Reduce the amount of caffeine you drink earlier on in the day

Progress, not perfection

There are loads of other things you could do and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

But a nudge in the right direction here will have a knock on effect on your willpower battery and the decisions you make the next day.

The Frog Graham Round – failure and experience

The Frog Graham Round – failure and experience

When you set out to achieve something and then don’t achieve it, do you regard that as ‘failure’, or ‘experience’?

I got back home this morning after a weekend up in the Lake District.

Yesterday was the day of the ‘Frog Graham Round’ – an epic 40+ mile swim and fell running challenge I’ve had my eye on since January.

An event that I had estimated would take me and my running buddy Guy around 16 hours to complete, but in the end we had to call it a day after only 8.

We were disappointing not to have finished, and although it was a tough decision to make it was absolutely the right one from a safety point of view.

Horrendous weather and very poor visibility made navigation and staying upright a nightmare.

One small mistake of missing a turning left us on the wrong side of an enormous valley, and by the time we had clambered our way back on track again all hope of finishing in daylight had vanished.

Success and failure

On the day that Mo Farah made it 5 straight years of winning the Great North Run, I failed to make it 5 years of successfully completing my own annual ‘big challenge’ series.

4 years ago I ran 10 marathons in 10 days.

3 years ago I ran 100 miles in 24 hours at Endure24.

2 years ago I completed an ironman triathlon.

1 year ago I ran another 100 miles in 24 hours at Endure24.

Yet this year’s ‘failure’ has probably taught me more about myself than any of them.

The 37km of running, 2700m of ascent and 1km of swimming across Bassenthwaite Lake has all given me valuable experience.

More wisdom was gained from our crew team, Nigel & Roger, who both shared their knowledge of the area.

The weather was the deciding factor but the recce also exposed a number of weak points in my preparation… some more painful to deal with than others.

Over the next few days I’ll be mining some of the important biggest lessons from this weekend’s non-completion, and I’m certain that I’ll be back to take on The Frog next year.

Small decisions > consistent actions > results

Small decisions > consistent actions > results

When you think back over the course of your life, where you are today is probably the result of a handful of key decisions.

With your career, relationships, health and wellbeing, or any other area of your life.

You can trace your progress back to these big decisions, where you adjusted your sails and started to move in a new direction.

But simply adjusting your sails isn’t enough – to create movement and change you need WIND.

And this ‘wind’ comes from the dozens of small decisions you make every day, in the direction of your new goal.

Let’s face it, we can all sit here and decide that we’re going to lose weight or get fit.

But without corresponding action nothing changes.

Deciding to have a healthy breakfast.

Deciding to drink a glass of water with your meals.

Deciding to go for a walk at lunchtime.

Deciding to switch off Netflix and go to bed half an hour earlier.

Deciding to spend 5 minutes a day meditating.

None of these decisions by themselves will have a significant long term impact.

But make enough of them, consistently and for long enough, they will carry you to where you want to go.

It’s the big courageous decisions that we tend to remember, but it’s the small day to day actions that result in progress.

I’m moving in with you!

I’m moving in with you for a couple of days…

Imagine it.

We’ll be working out together, cooking and eating healthy food together, coaching, setting up new morning and evening routines, creating systems for planning meals, working on goals, nutrition, training programs…

When I posted this hypothetical* situation in my OTW group yesterday responses ranged from ‘what would I hide first’ to ‘you wouldn’t survive in our madhouse for that long!’

But if it did happen, what would you learn?

Which of the habits or behaviours that are you thinking about right now… do you know are slowing down your progress?

Things that you’re aware that you’re doing (or not doing), but as there’s nobody checking up on you or holding you accountable you let it slide.

Imagination can be a powerful thing.

When I was running a boot camp a few years ago I had a coach who used to get me to imagine I was being filmed for a TV show before every session.

I’d think about that every time I drove to the session, and it made a real difference to the energy I brought to those 0630 workouts!

What would I notice?

If I was to move in with you for a couple of days, what would I notice?

What suggestions would I likely make to help you move towards your goals more easily?

What changes would I make to your environment, your daily habits, the way you manage your energy levels?

If the thought of me sleeping at the foot of your bed fills you with horror, perhaps once you’ve called yourself out on some of these things, you can start to make a few changes all by yourself.

Something to think about as you go through the day today.

*Hypothetical… or is it!

This is a real scenario I’m contemplating putting into action.

Can you imagine it to the point of it becoming a reality?

If so, drop me a line.

Mental Health | Getting back on track after a struggle

Do you find that some days you feel you can take on the world and handle anything?

Then other days it’s a bit more of a struggle.

You walk around in a mild panic, feeling like you’re about to drop one of the many important balls that you’re trying to keep in the air.

I get days like that.

Pushing hard, getting things done, but feeling like I’m swimming against the current.

Like yesterday, for example, which was a super productive day…

I filmed the 2 remaining workouts for my 21 day program, then another 5 short videos on procrastination and self-evaluation…

…Coaching sessions with clients, a speaking engagement briefing call, produced some content for my groups, trained in the gym, walked the dog in the morning with my son, and sat down to dinner in the evening with my family like we always do…

But for most of the day I felt this niggling anxious sensation prodding away at me.

Yet here I am, today, back to taking on the world.

I can’t tell you what you should do when you get days like that, but I can tell you what I do to get myself mentally back on track again in the shortest possible time.

Because I don’t know about you, but it’s not much fun when your head is filled with negativity and crap about what could go wrong.

No matter how much stuff you are getting done in your life.

The first thing I do is to acknowledge what is happening.

That I’m feeling a bit wobbly, that I need to be a little kinder to myself, and that what I’m feeling right now won’t last forever.

This always makes me feel a little better right away, as it gives the problem context.

Even if I can’t in that moment see the light at the end of the tunnel, it reminds me that it’s there.

The next step is to pivot from Victim to Victor.

Do you notice how when you’re feeling a little anxious or scared you tend to focus on the problems?

This is happening, that is happening, woe is me…

Very difficult to change your situation or start to feel better when you’re in this mindset.

The easiest way to pivot from Victim mode back towards all-conquering Victor is GRATITUDE.

A few moments spent reminding yourself of what you have got makes it much harder for your mind to latch onto what’s missing.

For me, this is often enough to nudge my thinking towards solutions and away from the problems.

Don’t get me wrong, this takes practice and if you take just one thing away from this email today it should be that awareness always precedes change.

Just becoming more aware that you’re feeling a little wobbly without the expectation of change is a great starting point.

Be kind to yourself.

Cut yourself some slack.

Avoid the things that you know are going to stress you out.

Do the things that you know will make you feel calmer and more settled.

Be grateful and above all else, remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


P.S. One of the most rewarding parts of my work is getting on the phone or Skype and coaching clients to help them get more clarity, confidence and enjoyment from their lives.

Sometimes when we’re in a bit of a fog it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees, and a little guidance can go a long way.

If anything today has resonated and you feel that you would benefit from some guidance, make sure you get in touch.

I have a number of coaching spots available from next month and am looking to work with people who are ready to make some changes in their lives..