Author: Oliver James Coaching

Food addiction and how to combat it

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Forget Crack, Gambling, or Alcohol.......FOOD is the biggest addiction. It is everywhere we go and is all around us. In everyones house there are cupboards full of it, when we step foot out of the front door we notice convenience stores on every corner, takeaways on the next street, and buy two get one free deals in the supermarkets.

We laugh with it, we cry with it, we basically link food to every emotion a human has. We have to eat it to survive, and yes we all love it, but how do we control our food addiction? As food is needed to be consumed we can’t stay away from it like a gambler staying away from the casino, or an alcoholic staying away from the pub. We need to work on the emotional connection we have with food.

This can be tricky as our food habits tend to be cemented in the early years of our lives. Our parents lay the foundations to our eating habits, we build the walls, and sometimes we need to just knock it all down and start again. This however can be extremely difficult. Now I am not talking about eating lots of broccoli as the addiction, but consuming high palatable foods. Sugars, excess fats, or salts can trigger the brain to want more and more, therefore giving you a craving which if you keep giving in to would become an addiction.

We have all heard of ‘cold turkey’ when it comes to addiction. It is where you completely remove the problem which in this case is sugar, fats, or salts. If you take salt out of your diet then you will no longer crave salt. Research shows that consuming salt triggers the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the brains pleasure centre, making salty foods as addictive as nicotine and alcohol. As with any addiction, eating salty foods makes you crave more.

The same goes for Sugar. Various studies have been completed to see how addictive sugar really is. A test with rats showed that they picked sugar over cocaine even when the rats were already hooked on cocaine. This may seem a bit daft to include but my point is to show you that even though it may not feel like a problem, over the long term it is. The brain works in exactly the same way which is why you need to treat food addiction just as seriously as all of the other addictions people struggle with.

High fat foods have the same effect on the body. Consuming foods such as bacon, sausages, cheesecake, or toast caked in butter can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain which makes us feel good mentally. All these foods may make you feel good mentally but do they make you feel good physically?

Now that we have discussed each drug like substance separately, let's talk about what happens when you put all of these together.

  • Would you be addicted to eating sugar cubes on their own?
  • Would you be addicted to eating spoonfuls of butter on their own?
  • Would you be addicted to eating salt on its own?

The answer is no. You will more than likely pull a strange face, heave, or spit it out. Now, if you put all of these ingredients in to a bowl and mixed them all together to produce a salted caramel cheesecake, would you spit it out or just want more and more?

The answer is that you will more than likely want more and more until you feel like you are about to explode. This is because putting these ingredients together creates foods that would fit perfectly well in Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory. As these foods are heavily addictive you would end up like Augustus Gloop, a boy that can't avoid the temptation of the sweet and fatty snacks that are on offer.

He is the perfect example of someone who finds these highly palatable foods made up of sugar and fats extremely addictive. His mother and father indulge his eating habits with sweets and pieces of sausage which is why it is important if you are a parent to provide your children with nutritious foods instead of highly addictive ones.

The crazy thing is that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was written by Roald Dahl in 1964, yet food addiction is still not getting the publicity needed to help educate others and tackle the problem.

It is not just these three ingredients that are addictive when it comes to food, there are other factors that you need to think about.

  • What is it you love about a doughnut?
  • What do you like about crisps?
  • Why can't you stop eating popcorn in the cinema?

When you mix fats, sugars, and salts in to a variety of foods, it is not just the ingredients that play a part in making them highly palatable. It is the appearance of the food you see and you end up drooling with saliva just by the site of the doughnuts. If something looks tempting to eat then you will more than likely eat it even if you weren't planning to.

It is the way the food feels in your mouth through certain textures. A bag of crisps are addictive through the fats and salts it contains but if you put a nice crunch to it and offer them in small bit sized pieces then you will be able to graze on them all day without feeling full.

The texture plus the convenient size of foods plays a big factor in how much we can eat. Before you know it you have eaten all of your large popcorn before the film has even started.

Have you ever eaten your main meal and felt full, but the moment someone mentions dessert you don't even think about it and start eating the dessert on offer? This is due to a thing called sensory specific satiety. Your body may feel full on a savoury level after your main course, however on a sweet level it hasn't been satisfied.

Finally, the final component of our food addiction is reward. It's easy to say 'Hey cut these foods out', however, if we do not reprogram our brain to reward ourselves in a different way, then we will constantly be reaching for these highly palatable foods every day.

Highly Addictive Foods

  • Ice Cream
  • Chocolate
  • Cookies
  • French Fries
  • Fizzy Drinks
  • Cake
  • Cheese
  • Bacon
  • Fried Chicken
  • Crisps
  • Pastries

How do we combat the issue?

First of all we need to remove these foods from your diet. If you consume too much salt for instance then you need to remove all added salt from your weekly food intake. Like drugs, you build up a tolerance to salt and will start to add more and more to your food over time as your taste buds will change and be unable to be satisfied by the smaller, original amount.

One of the best ways to do this is to cook your meals from scratch; this way you know what is in your food. Most packaged foods contain added sugars and salt, along with all ready meals so avoid these foods if you can.

This should be an obvious one, but also avoid fast foods as the fats, sugars and salt added to these foods is ridiculous. If you are looking to season your foods then use various herbs and spices such as paprika, cumin, oregano, or coriander.

Drinking more water would help. When you consume too much salt, your body tries to dilute it by holding on to as much water as it can. You may notice a bloated feeling when this happens. To help your body dilute the excess salt, drink water. The same can be said for sugar as drinking water can lower blood sugar levels by diluting the amount of glucose in the blood stream.

Exercising more will help you feel better. This will encourage you to eat the right foods as exercising more changes your mindset to the way you live your life. Being more active can only be a good thing. It changes your lifestyle by getting you up and out of the house. Doing more exercise changes you both physically and mentally.

Finally, what you need to do is stop using food as emotional therapy. I know it's easier said than done. Try to reward yourself in different ways such as treating yourself to a massage or a trip to watch your football team play. Talk about your problems with close friends or family rather than eating them away. Speaking about these things will make you feel better than holding it all in. It will also train you to speak about your worries or problems rather than covering them up with short term fixes such as unhealthy eating, drinking, or drugs.

In conclusion, food addiction is a big big problem. It can cause heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and various other health issues. It needs to be tackled head on to improve your health and wellbeing. The foods you eat create the person you are. If you consume a healthy balanced diet then you will be a healthy person. If you overindulge in certain foods then you will have a lack of energy and won't be as productive with your time.

Food addiction is a problem that everyone should be aware of and you should take it seriously. Overindulging in high fat, sugars, and salty foods is damaging your overall health and more should be done to tackle this ongoing issue.

As more of these foods are on offer now than ever before, it is important to think before you eat.

  • Do you really need it?
  • What are the nutritional benefits?
  • Can it damage your overall health?
  • Will it help me achieve my goal or will it hinder my progress?
  • How could I reward myself in a healthier way?
  • Could I talk about my worries rather than use food as emotional therapy?

Hopefully you now have a greater understanding of this ongoing problem and you can now take a moment to reflect on the situation and question whether you or someone else is struggling with a food addiction. We all struggle with food addiction in some shape or form so never be scared to admit that it's a problem for you.

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The Take Control Programme

The 12 week Take Control programme is an online course that helps you lose weight and keep it off. It provides you with a step-by-step process that allows you to take control of your weight, your health, and your future.

What I hate about the food industry

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We are surrounded. Surrounded by bad advice, surrounded by bad foods, and surrounded by bad advertising. With so many foods out there and so many people telling you how you should be eating, how the hell are you supposed to know what is right and what is wrong?

The problem we face in the world of food is it's a marketing dream. If you say it is fat-free then people will buy it because fat is apparently bad. If they say that protein is good for you and a cereal or chocolate bar is being advertised as 'protein snickers' or 'protein weetabix' then surely it is better for us all than the original thing? Nope. If something says that it is reduced salt and sugar, does that mean that it is good for us? Nope. You must still look at the total sugar and salt content on the food label.

The other part of marketing is people. There are so many people out there trying to sell you something and the reality of it all is that people don't want to be sold 'Consume a balanced diet, it's good for you!' Instead they want a quick fix, a solution, and something that is easy.

If you look at all diets they are all the same. They may not be packaged or branded the same however they all have one thing in common......a calorie deficit. When you take a big food group out of the diet then people don't overindulge on the ones they are left with. I don't know anyone who has followed the Atkins diet and consumed 2 steaks, a chicken, a dozen eggs, a block of cheese, and a slab of butter each day. Instead they stick to their normal food intake just without the carbohydrates. This creates a calorie deficit.

A weight watchers diet is following a points system where you can eat whatever the hell you like. You can eat anything as long as you don't go over the amount of points each day. This is a calorie deficit.

For the past 20 plus years 'professionals' have been telling people you that fat is the devil and you can consume anything as long as it isn't fat. Does this mean that you can't eat nuts, salmon, avocados? We must consume healthy fats!

Once again, if you remove a food group and lose weight then it is down to a calorie deficit, NOT because of a certain food group.

The Keto diet is a low carb high fat diet. Sounds quite similar to the Atkins diet right? If you reduce your carbohydrate intake then of course you will lose weight because after all, weight loss is a result of consuming less calories than you are burning off.

With so many people telling you what you should be eating then how the hell are you supposed to find out what is right and what is wrong?

Follow my rules for food consumption

If you follow my tips below then you will have the freedom to choose your foods, live a healthier lifestyle, and create a stable food intake that will benefit you long-term. Not just for a few weeks or months, for the rest of your life!

Never cut out a food group

Cutting out a complete food group is not good for you at all. It deprives your body from essential nutrients that are needed for your body to function properly. Even if your goal is to lose weight, it's best long-term to focus on reducing your food intake from each food group.

Consume Vitamins and Minerals

Many people dismiss the importance of vitamins and minerals. They are natures medicine and without them then you are prone to disease and illness. Most people don't include them because they don't like salad and vegetables however in your adult life you can't be behaving like a picky 5-year-old. When taking in your fruit and vegetables, make sure that you are consuming a variety of colours as each colour offers different vitamins and minerals.

Don't follow a specific diet

I hate diets and so should you too. A diet to me is a marketing tool. Most diets remove food groups or encourage you to eat in a way that is not healthy at all. Yes you may be able to lose weight however your health should come first. The best way to lose weight is through healthy eating. This creates a healthy body and also sustainable results.

Stay hydrated

Water is extremely important. Most people would pick a coffee with added cream or sugars, or a carbonated soft drink over water any day. Drinking water keeps you hydrated which helps your body function properly. Just a slight drop in hydration and you may feel tired, unable to focus, and your concentration levels decrease.

Don't buy fat-free or sugar-free products

A big hatred is free foods. When food says fat-free then it tends to contain high sugar levels. When a food says sugar-free then the sugar is replaced with artificial sweeteners which can be more damaging for your health. It may sound strange but pick the more natural food rather than the fat-free or sugar-free one.

Don't buy something because it has the word 'protein' on the box

The most popular thing at the moment is protein. It is the king of macronutrients to many however most people are already consuming sufficient protein each day. Just because it has the word protein on the packaging, it does not mean it's healthy, and will still contain sugars and fats in the ingredients if you look closely. Don't be ripped off; if you want protein then just eat some chicken.

Educate yourself

If you educate yourself then you will have the knowledge needed to make the correct decision for you. We are all different and what works for one person won't work for the other. Educate yourself on the benefits of each food group. Assess your body and how it responds to certain ways of eating, and you will achieve so much more.

I am basically trying to help you understand that there is so much money to be made through marketing food as 'healthy'. Money is made by selling something that sounds appealing and easy.

The things you should be buying are the things that are always there and don't need advertising. Things like fruit and vegetables, chicken, and milk. The reason why these aren't advertised is because we need them.

Supermarkets know that we need good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, fats and fibre. Because these foods aren't fancy and they are classed as necessities then they don't get the limelight.

When advertisers know that people will buy something because they switched the sugar for artificial sweeteners, or switched the fat for a truck load of sugar, then it will be on the TV adverts creating a vision of your perfect life.

Don't believe what is said on TV adverts, read the food labels to see the truth, and educate yourself on nutrition and healthy eating.

'People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.' - Wendell Berry

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The Take Control Programme

The 12 week Take Control programme is an online course that helps you lose weight and keep it off. It provides you with a step-by-step process that allows you to take control of your weight, your health, and your future.

I Hate Exercise!

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I hate exercising is a comment made all the time around the world but why?

First of all you get hot and sweaty, out of breath, and feel like a sloth chasing a bus. It feels uncomfortable and unpleasant. This however is not the reason you hate exercise, you hate it because it's boring.

Going on a treadmill is a humans version of a hamster wheel; so much effort but you are just staying in the same boring place. The treadmill dates back to the Victorian times in England where prisoners were punished by being placed on a treadmill or tread wheel which would generate energy to make flour. So what are we doing going in to a gym and running on one of these things?

Why traditional ways of exercising don't work

We've been programmed in to believing that the best way to get fitter, be more toned, or lose weight is to join a gym. Although these places have everything you need to achieve your goals, the main problem is that not many people go on a regular basis.

I once worked in an exclusive health and fitness club that had the latest technology. I was responsible for 550 individual members. When I broke it down to what was described as an active member (someone who's attended in the past 14 days), my numbers were only 100 or so members. That's only 18% of my members who had attended the gym in the past 14 days.

When we think of the minimum requirement for someone to achieve their goals, it's 2-3 times per week. Out of the 100 members who were classed as active, only 20 had used the gym 2-3 times each week. That's only 3% of my members who were attending the gym at a frequency that allowed them to achieve their goals.

The reason why I'm explaining these figures to you is because it shows that joining a gym isn't sufficient. Why? Because from my statistics, only 3% of members attend the required amount of times. If you don't go, it won't work. And it's this reason why in my opinion, from my own experiences, traditional ways of exercising don't work.

Why you may not be attending the gym

Most of us are stuck inside for our work commitments due to the masses working in an office type environment. We're stuck inside all day so when it comes to visiting the gym after work, we drive past it and venture home instead. Have you ever thought about why?

There are a variety of reasons why you're not attending the gym.

  • It's boring
  • You don't have time
  • You don't know what to do
  • It isn't practical
  • It's intimidating

These are just a few of the common reasons why people don't attend the gym. Is this the case for you? If you can find what is fun instead of boring, eliminate the travel time so you have time, educate yourself so you know how to exercise, and gain confidence in your own ability, then you're more likely to enjoy exercise rather than hate it.

What to do if you hate exercising

Gyms have many positives however my advice is if you hate exercise then stay clear of them. The 12 month membership you've just signed up to will be used about 4 times. So save your money, buy some decent running shoes, and get outdoors.

You are a caged hen, and you want to be free range. You want your freedom, you want to find something that fits in to your current lifestyle, you want something that's going to be fun. If you can find something that works for you then this new habit will stick.

If you hate exercising then stay away from the general ways of training. Find something that you enjoy doing as you are more likely to stick with it. There is so much out there that you can try such as running in the countryside or parks, taking part in a sport, or attending a dance class.

If you are going to run then run outside, or run in the park. It feels so much better when you are outside and taking in fresh air with various landscapes to discover. Your mind is elsewhere rather than watching the clock tick slowly on the treadmill.

If you enjoy music and dance then clubs in the city have day time raves that are exercise or dancing based. If you enjoy getting out in the countryside then cycling is a good way of exercising while venturing in to a peaceful place.

I recently felt like a kid again by going to an indoor obstacle course. It felt like I was just clowning around at the time but once I got home I had realised that it was a very good workout for the whole body. Other visits to your childhood could be trampolining, or even ice skating. We all had fun when we were children right?

Find something fun

In my times as a personal trainer, I always made sure my sessions were fun, creative, and interesting. Many of my clients hated exercise with a passion, but once they got in to a routine doing something that they enjoyed doing, then they were half way to achieving their goals.

If you hate exercising then start off by trying as many things as possible. Approach everything with an open mind and you will soon discover what you like.

Exercise is like a career, there are so many careers out there but not all of them are for you. There are office jobs, practical jobs, or jobs that require travel. There is something out there for everyone. It is your job to find your own way of exercising that's fun, interesting, and effective.

If you find something fun then you will never look at exercise the same way again. You will want to do it, and when you want to do something, you try harder. You will never make the comment 'I hate exercise' ever again!

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The Take Control Programme

The 12 week Take Control programme is an online course that helps you lose weight and keep it off. It provides you with a step-by-step process that allows you to take control of your weight, your health, and your future.

How small changes create big results

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If you’ve resolved to lose weight and get fit in 2019, it can feel like you have to make cataclysmic life changes in order to achieve big results. Not true. Small changes create big results. 

Think about this

You’ll have seen it before - cast your mind back to your first day in your current job. Did you know what you were doing from the off, or did you take each day as it came, learning something new and growing your capability? Until one day you stopped worrying and realised you’re good at what you do? 

Or how about when you had a baby? Babies don’t come with a manual, you (both) had to take time to figure out what was going on, baby steps, and look at you now - a natural.

So what is the common thread here? Simply this: breaking a problem down into bitesize, manageable chunks and tackling these small obstacles, one at a time, until you’ve defeated the gargantuan issue.

And that is how small changes create big results.

Where do you start?

So if you’ve committed to losing weight and adopting a healthier lifestyle this year, where do you start? Easy. You’ve already started. No, seriously, the first step was deciding to do it. 

Now, disregard everything you think you know about weight loss: 

  • You don't need to starve yourself
  • Nor adopt any fad diets
  • Nor hit the gym seven days a week for hours on end

You’ll only do more harm than good and also, that lifestyle isn’t sustainable. Instead, choose to make one minor change weekly to progress towards your health and fitness targets. 

The key is keep it simple and manageable, and that is just what I do here at Oliver James Coaching. I help you build a plan that works around you, so that it fits in with your current lifestyle. And we don’t move onto the next stage until we are certain each client has mastered every step. 

So what changes could you make?

Small changes can be as simple as: 

  • Eat more vegetables. Research has shown that if you eat more vegetables at each meal time and eat them before everything else on your plate, you will lose weight.
  • Eat less sugar. Cut back on the sweet stuff a little at a time: give your body a chance to adjust to lowering amounts of sugar rather than going cold turkey.
  • Resolve to get more sleep. Research shows that if you want to lose weight, get more sleep.

It really doesn’t matter how small the changes you make are, even a two percent improvement from one week to the next will soon add up to a significant positive change over the course of a year. So don’t look at the short term, think long term, think sustainable change and watch those big results come rolling in. 

And if you need a helping hand, I work closely with each client to ensure they're able to make the changes needed to help them achieve their goal. With Oliver James Coaching you’re never on your own. 

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The Take Control Programme

The 12 week Take Control programme is an online course that helps you lose weight and keep it off. It provides you with a step-by-step process that allows you to take control of your weight, your health, and your future.

How to get fit at home

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In a world where we have less time, getting fit at home is becoming more and more popular. This article will help you find out many benefits of getting fit at home and how to get fit at home. You will also find some useful and affordable equipment to be able to do this.

Benefits Of Getting Fit At Home

There are so many benefits of getting fit at home and you will be surprised with what you can achieve by exercising at home.

You Save So Much Time

Training at home is great as it allows you to save time due to the fact there is no travel time involved. You are already at home and you can get started achieving your fitness goals and then continue with your day. Taking out your travel time can save you a minimum of 30 minutes compared to your gym visit.

You Can Train In The Comfort Of Your Own Home

So many people feel intimidated when training in a gym or health club. If you train at home you can exercise however you want to, get sweaty and not care. You also don't need to wait for equipment, and can watch the TV programmes you want to do. The dream of listening to your own music on full blast no matter how alternative your musical taste is, can only be a good thing too.

You Can Achieve So Many Goals

Everyone seems to think that following an exercise programme at home can restrict and limit your progress.  It is the complete opposite and can work on a variety of goals.

By training at home you can

  • Improve your cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Increase strength
  • Improve flexibility

It Is Practical

If you have a busy lifestyle involving long working hours, or a house full of your beloved children then home training is the one for you. It is extremely practical as you can fit your exercise sessions in and around your current commitments.

While the children are playing or doing their homework you can get a quick exercise session in. After you have prepped your food and thrown your marinated chicken and Mediterranean vegetable medley in the oven for 30 minutes, you can do a high intensity cardio workout or complete a weight session.

Sessions Can Be Varied

By training at home you can start to think outside the box and get creative. This will keep you interested in your workout sessions and prevent you from getting bored. The conventional way of exercising is over.

There are so many ways to vary your sessions. Follow youtube workouts, train outside, and use what you have at home in alternative ways.

You Won't Forget Anything Ever Again

Training at home means that the days of forgetting your headphones are over. There is nothing worse than  having to do an exercise session without motivational music. Going to the gym and forgetting your towel after a big sweaty session will seem like a distant memory.

It just means that you won't get stressed or annoyed with the fact that you have to listen to people grunting or get in the car and stick to the car seat. Surely getting rid of these annoying moments is a good thing.

Ways to get fit at home

I've kept these examples brief as I prefer each of my clients to discover a way to exercise that will work just for them. Below I have outlined a few ways to get fit at home. These options give you the perfect ways to begin getting fit at home.

Youtube workouts

Many people have smart TVs meaning that they can access youtube on their TV. Find a workout that suits, whether it be a high intensity cardio workout or a yoga class. You will feel as though you are receiving a personalised class as it is just you and the instructor. This way of training can be motivational for many and be a great alternative to exercise classes in gyms.

Use Your Garden

When the sun comes out it can be such a great feeling to just open up your patio doors and step outside in to the warm weather. You can complete your workouts by bringing the gym outside. If you have space then shuttle sprints can take place. You can also do static sessions using bodyweight exercises. If you have any equipment then this can be brought outside in to your private garden.

Use Those Stairs

Forget the stair master in the gym, most people live in a house that has stairs so use them. If you are looking to work those leg and bum muscles then walking or running up the stair is a great exercise that builds muscle and pushes you aerobically.

Running up the stairs one step at a time is great for those of you who are looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Walking up the stairs two steps at a time is ideal for those of you who are looking to strengthen the muscles in your lower body.

The Take Control Programme

The Take Control Programme involves an added cost however it is a great way to receive the guidance and support you need from a fitness expert (myself). I provide you with the structure needed to achieve your goals by using an online course to educate and guide you through a process.

You will discover a way to exercise at home that works just for you. I will provide you with exercise ideas for you to choose from and you will be able to plan a way to work out at home.

Equipment to help you get fit at home

Now that you've discovered potential ways for you to exercise, the final part of this article is to give you an idea of what equipment you could purchase. If you're serious about exercising at home then investment in certain pieces of equipment is probably needed.


You can pick up a cheap pair of dumbbells and start working on toning your arms. An even better way of making sure you have relevant weight is to purchase a barbell set. Long term, the greatest value for money is a pair of adjustable dumbbells. You will only ever need one pair of dumbbells this way, so when you progress, you won't have to go and buy another set that will work for a few weeks.

Yoga Mat

A yoga mat is an extremely affordable piece of equipment. Great for those of you who are going to follow yoga classes on youtube along with other activities such as core exercises, press ups, or meditation.

Battle Rope

A battle rope is a popular piece of kit at the moment and the reason why is because it is highly effective. A battle rope enables a full body workout at your home and there is so much you can do with it. For those of you looking to workout your whole body and improve your cardiovascular fitness then a battle rope is a good choice for your home workouts.


Kettlebells have been around for a while now and they are still sticking around. Why? Well they are an effective way to workout your whole body and they can be used as weights too. If you want to start including kettlebell swings in your workouts then purchase a kettlebell. You with have firm legs in no time at all.

Exercise Bench

An exercise bench that has multiple settings such as incline, decline, and flat enables you to complete a variety of workouts. Another great thing about an exercise bench is that it can be used as a step for your aerobic workouts too.

Overall thoughts

Overall, working at home is great. It's practical, it is effective, and more importantly, you feel comfortable in this environment. If you don't like the gym (like me), then working out at home is the perfect solution. Before you go rushing in and buying any equipment, make sure that this is going to be the place for your sessions. Start off working out using no equipment and then go from there.

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The Take Control Programme

The 12 week Take Control programme is an online course that helps you lose weight and keep it off. It provides you with a step-by-step process that allows you to take control of your weight, your health, and your future.