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Those that attend the hallowed halls of Strathclyde University doing an MBA (one of the highest rated in the UK) may rightly feel smug about their prospects in life. Their average starting salary after leaving will be around £60,000 a year; not bad for a starting wage considering the average UK wage currently stands at around £23,000 according the the Office for National Statistics. But in truth you probably make the same money as an MBA graduate.
After graduation some, about a quarter, will move into consultancy. These jobs involve a huge amount of travel, often 7 days a week, every month, forever.
Others will go into private equity, hedge funds or investment banking, where they help large companies merge, create complicated investments and deal with high pressure, large transactions. The hours are usually from 9am until 9pm..or later.
Some end up working for FTSE 100 companies, in technology or other fields. Pressures are again high, with constant demands for growth and success with the shareholders constantly demanding more.
All of these graduates end up working 80-100 hours a week – a huge amount when you consider that there are only 168 hours in a week, in total.
Whatever salary system you are paid on, there is a simple fundamental working across all jobs. That is the division of wage by time or hours worked. We all have so many hours, and how much we work will have a direct effect on this hourly wage. An Oxford MBA graduate may make 3 times as much as a teacher or shop manager, but they most likely work 3 times the hours. Working that many hours leaves little time for playing with your children, spending time with friends, gardening or whatever other hobby you might enjoy. The higher wage will allow for delegation in many aspects of life (getting a gardener or cleaner or nanny) and will also pay for glamorous holidays, fancy restaurants and a nice car; it will allow for more fun, or more expensive fun. But it won’t allow for more time having fun.
Some may thrive on the pressure and reward involved in these well paid jobs. It’s their thing. Which is great. But others might prefer to see their hardy geraniums grow, indulge in a hobby or spend time with their children. So for them the career as a teacher or manager (or anything else with a similar life balance) might make them happier. Identify which one you are, using internal reasoning and discounting external expectation.
Here is what the Oxford MBA graduate makes compared to a shop manager and a teacher.
For the MBA figures we used https://www.emolument.com/salary-reports/universities/strathclyde-university-and-business-school/14127
For the teachers we used http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27087942 and http://www.payscale.com/research/UK/All_K-12_Teachers/Salary
For the retail manager we used http://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Retail_Store_Manager/Salary
Although some may argue that they are a teacher and work way more hours than that outlined above, or a banker who works way less, there is still great meaning in the figures. They all earn around £13 an hour, all told. The key is to know your hourly wage and then balance that against the trade off between work/life balance. Only by doing this can you decide off you are on the right track or if you need a change. Of course the real secret is to have a job that you really love, as this will offset any lifestyle trade off that you have to make. On the negative side, those that work so many hours that they earn less than the minimum wage, regardless of salary should take a long hard look at their life and see what can change. Perhaps it’s time for them to become a teacher?
Average life expectancy is around 75 in the developed world, and you will sleep for 1/3 of that. That’s only 18,000 days left. That’s reduced even more by the dribbling at the start and possibly at the end. So do the maths and really value your time.
Weight loss has a connection to economics in more than one way. In economics, which is where the phrase “diminishing returns” originates, the law of diminishing returns is also referred to as the law of diminishing marginal returns. It states that “in a production process, as one input variable is increased, there will be a point at which the marginal per unit output will start to decrease, holding all other factors constant. In other words, keeping all other factors constant, the additional output gained by another one unit increase of the input variable will eventually be smaller than the additional output gained by the previous increase in input variable. At that point, the diminishing marginal returns take effect”.
In layman’s terms, in most processes initial improvement usually comes quickly, but the closer one gets to the maximum goal possible, the harder improvement becomes. More work has to be done as gains become more marginal.
In sports training this is easy to see. For a couch potato, going from nothing to being able to run a 5k race might only take 8 weeks; to do it reasonably well that is. So a huge improvement in just 2 months. Yet for an elite level athlete, 4 years of hard training might mean an increase of only 0.2 seconds over 100m. So as the body becomes close to the absolute highest levels of fitness possible within that person’s genetic makeup, the harder it becomes to improve; the more work that has to be done to make this happen.
In weight loss, there is a similar pattern. An obese person, for example, eating carefully and exercising in the correct way might be able to lose 4-7lbs a week. We see this in TV shows like the USA’s Biggest Loser. However, the closer one gets to an optimal healthy weight, the harder it becomes to lose weight.
It must also be noted that the closer one gets to optimal weight, weight itself ceases to be a useful measurement. The balance of muscle mass and fat mass will be more important. Size over weight, if you like. The best way of measuring improvement at this point is through body fat percentage.
Weight loss is never linear – even eating exactly the correct amount of energy needed to create a 2lb deficit a week won’t necessarily lead to exactly 2lbs lost in that week – our hormonal systems are the main reason for this. However, the more you have to lose, the more linear it should be as the law of diminishing returns hasn’t kicked in yet. You will also be able to lose more than the recommended 2lbs a week.
The closer you get to that elusive size 10/12 though (32 waist for the guys), the harder any linear weight loss will become. You will also have less leeway in terms of treats and “mistakes”. This is the law of diminishing returns kicking in. At this point the 2lb per week rule should be applied. Any more and your body will start to utilise muscle for fuel. This is disastrous at it will lower your metabolic rate, making further weight loss even harder. The law is even more relevant for someone trying to get from slim to super toned or a six-pack. Almost all the eating leeway has gone; both training and nutrition must be close to perfection to progress and reach the goal.
You must also now take into account that as you near perfection, size and shape become more important than weight. Static weight loss over a week or two that seems disappointing (considering how careful you’ve been with food) may well have translated into size loss, shape change and a reduction in your body fat. At this point it’s important to stay the course and rely not so much on the scales as on a tape measure, a snug pair of jeans that are getting that tiny bit looser or a personal trainer with callipers to measure your body fat.
So beware the law or diminishing returns. Don’t let weight be your sole guide. Remember that weight, size and shape are not always the same thing.
Weekend warriors who embark on an exercise blitz over the weekend – despite being office and couch potatoes during the week – enjoy almost the same health benefits as regular exercisers, a new study says. Up until now scientists believed that the damage done by 5 days of inactivity could not be overcome by weekend exercise. The new study however, shows that even the weekend warriors’ lifestyle of no exercise followed by intense weekend activity was enough to afford significant health benefits, lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer by more than a third.
“The weekend warrior activity pattern, characterised by one or two sessions per week of moderate or vigorous physical activity, may be sufficient to reduce risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines,” said lead author Dr Gary O’Donovan, of Loughborough University.
Some smaller studies had previously inferred that vigorous exercise on the weekend only was likely to increase injury and put a strain on the heart. But the new study is both broad and large, following 63,000 British adults over a period of 18 years to find out how the frequency and quantity of exercise benefit health.
All those who exercised – regardless of whether they did so throughout the week or at weekends only – had a large reduction in the risk of early death. Although those who exercised more frequently had an even better chance of healthy old age, it was only a slight increase. Those who spread their exercise over the whole week had a 35% lower risk of death overall (a 41% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, 21% less risk of cancer). The weekend warriors had an overall reduction of death risk by 30%, with chances of cardio-vascular disease down by 40% and the risk of cancer reduced by 18%. A very close comparison considering they just exercised on the weekend.
“It is very encouraging news that being physically active on just one or two occasions per week is associated with a lower risk of death, even among people who do some activity but don’t quite meet recommended exercise levels,” said one of the lead authors of the study, Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney.
“This finding persisted after adjusting for chronic diseases and excluding those who died in the first two years of the study.
“These results mean that ‘Weekend Warriors’ and other leisure-time physical activity patterns characterised by one or two sessions per week may provide beneficial health outcomes event when they fall short of physical activity guidelines” he said.
The study was published in the JAMA Internal Medicine magazine.
So even one or two reasonably intense exercise sessions a week will have huge benefits for health – not to mention quality of life, happiness and feelings of well-being. Struggling to make even this one session work? A personal trainer just once a week could be the cost effective solution. Many of our clients have just a single sessions a week with some easy to achieve homework provided by us on the side.
Back in August the DDW team of Diana Tombs, Karma Fields and head trainer Adam Atkinson began training for the BIRC – the British Indoor Rowing Championships. Attended by over 1500 athletes from around the globe, including team GB rowers, national champions and world champions, the championship races take place on Concept 2 machines, the Olympic standard. Although the event is attended by elite athletes and Olympic medalists, it is hugely inclusive, with schools, teams and 80 year olds all competing side by side. As well as open categories the races are divided into age groups, so anyone can take part.
Taking place at the Lee Valley Velodrome, site of the London 2012 Olympic track cycling, the racers compete in the olympic standard 2000m race, the 500m sprint, adaptive races and relays. The 2000m is known throughout the sporting world as the hardest, most challenging physical feat you can face. It’s basically a sprint that you have to hold for 6-9 minutes, taking athletes to the darkest recesses of mental and physical toughness. Several competitors on the day were stretchered out of the arena. Many were left writhing on the floor.
Diana Tombs overcame a lightening start from her main rivals to reel them in and come home in gold medal position with an excellent time of 8:16.2. She then clinched the silver medal just a few hours later in the women’s 60-64 masters 500m sprint with a time of 1:52.2. She adds the gold and silver to the silver won at the 2014 English Nationals. All the more remarkable is the fact that she has only been rowing for 5 years and only came to sport and fitness shortly before that. You can see more of her journey on our success stories page.
Karma Fields smashed her personal best 2000m time (an 8:07 done in training in November) posting an amazing 7:56.3. This bettered her previous best attempt by some 10 seconds. She came a very respectable 16th place in one of the most competitive categories, the women’s 40-49 masters; all the more impressive as she is only in her 1st year of rowing. A definite top ten (and more?) in future British Indoor Rowing Championships. Last seen writhing on the floor of the Olympic velodrome.
Diet’s Don’t Work founder Adam Atkinson also managed a personal best in the hugely competitive men’s 40-49 masters, with a time of 6:33.9. A great 18th place among a field of world record holders, giants and extras for the next Lord of the Rings movie. Also last seen prone on the race floor, he maintains that he was first in the pit pony category.
A huge well done to all that took part on the day both competitors and organisers alike.
1 – Laser Blade. A snug and comfortable helmet, this bit of kit is adjusted by a roller on the top rather than a dial at the rear, which makes it great for the ladies or the rockers as it leaves lots of space for long hair. The 22 air vents keep the head cool and also reduce weight.(£80 from www.lazersport.co.uk)
2 – Zeal Air Profil FC02. At just 18cm long this mini pump is one of the smallest on the market and is genuinely portable. It comes with an old fashioned flexible hose which reduces the chances or damage to the rims and valves when you are exerting lots of pressure, so it ranks as some of the best cycling equipment for 2016. (£25 from www.tredz.co.uk)
3 – Garmin Varia Radar. This smart rear light has a built in radar system which can “see” vehicles approaching from the rear from 140m away. It then lights up and flashes to alert the driver. (£160 from www.garmin.com)
4 – Crankbrothers Y12. This compact and sleek multi tool is made up of 12 compartments including 8 wrenches and two screw drivers. It’s sturdy, small and will fit into a pocket. (£19.36 from www.bikes24.co.uk)
5 – Lazerlight Blaze. lazerlight’s forward projection technology beams a green image of a bike 6 meters ahead of the rider. Unlike normal lights, the laser light is highly visible from different perspectives, allowing you to be seen despite busy road junctions and blind spots.It also has a normal 300lm light. (£125 from the Blaze shop).
The link between sleep, cortisol, stress and weight gain is well known. But a re-analysis of previous research by King’s College University in London has pinpointed just how damaging lack of sleep can be. Can lack of sleep make you fat? Oh yes. In fact, having a poor night’s sleep leads people to consume, on average, 385 extra calories the following day. The study, led by Dr Girda Pot (actual name), defined bad sleep as a night with less than 5 ½ hours sleep. The researchers confirmed that lack of sleep can make you fat through disruption of hormone regulation, in particular ghrelin and leptin. These hormones are responsible for controlling feelings of hunger and satiety respectively.
“If long term sleep deprivation continues to result in an increased calorie intake of this magnitude, it may contribute to weight gain” said Dr Pot.
The study confirmed previous studies’ results showing that lack of sleep can make you fat.
So try to get at least a good 7 hours sleep. How? We’ve got a blog for that! Simple tips are: switch tablets, computers and phones off. Research shows that using these before bed will stimulate the brain, making dropping off difficult. Keeping the room cool can also help, as can a good mattress that suits your posture and preference. A good pillow, like memory foam can also be helpful in sending you off to the land of nod. Try to eat reasonably early, so that the process of digestion is finished by the time you go to bed and try to avoid high intensity interval training in the evening – this will produce endorphins that will keep you alert and awake later than you might want. Some also swear by lavender oil or dried lavender to soothe you to sleep.
A new study by the University of Cambridge has shown that some people are genetically wired to crave fatty foods over healthier options, putting them at more risk of obesity than others.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers created dishes that varied solely in fat or sugar content. The main meal on offer, chicken korma, had three variations; high, low and medium fat. Apart from this they were made to be as identical as possible in both taste and appearance. The 54 volunteers were given a small taste of each, then left to eat as much as they liked from any of the three variations.
The menu also offered dessert, with the choice of three seemingly identical portions of Eton mess, a tasty combination of merengue, strawberries and cream. In the case of the dessert, the differing factor was the sugar content, so three otherwise identical desserts with low, medium and high sugar.
In the test 14 people unwittingly ate significantly more of the high-fat korma than the others in the test. In the pudding section, the same 14 volunteers didn’t like the high sugar choice.
All of the 14 high fat eaters were found to have a mutation in their genetic code, specifically in one called MC4R. This gene controls hunger, appetite and how we burn energy. It is thought that about 1 person per 1000 carries the mutation. Mutations in this MC4R gene are the most common genetic cause of severe obesity within families that has so far been identified.
Prof Sadaf Farooqi, from the Wellcome Trust Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge, said the findings suggest that at least some of our food preferences are influenced by biology rather than free will.
“Even if you tightly control the appearance and taste of food, our brains can detect the nutrient content” she said.
“Most of the time we eat foods that are both high in fat and high in sugar. By carefully testing these nutrients separately in this study, and by testing a relatively rare group of people with the defective MC4R gene, we were able to show that specific brain pathways can modulate food preference.”
The defective gene makes the brain prefer fat over other food groups and this is connected to an evolutionary survival mechanism programmed to safeguard humans against famine. As fat contains more than twice as much energy than sugar or protein it makes sense to consume more in case of food scarcity.
“Having a pathway that tells you to eat more fat at the expense of sugar, which we can only store to a limited extent in the body, would be a very useful way of defending against starvation.” said the professor. She also added that the study did not mean that those with the mutation were helpless in the face of fat, emphasising the importance of exercise and healthy nutrition in maintaining a healthy weight.
Just walking for half an hour a day will halve heart disease chances. Further to the large body of evidence that walking is great for you, a new 6 year study has shown that even just half an hour’s walking every day can cut the risk of a fatal heart attack by half. The study also found that walking was just as effective as running in reducing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and fighting heart disease. Previous research has also shown that the simple activity can also protect against type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes affects 2.7 million people in the UK. The risk of this can be slashed by up to 30% by walking for only 30 mins daily according to data from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study.
Another 12 year study by Dr David Hupin, physician in the Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology, University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, France, showed that walking for even 15 minutes a day was “protective even if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol”.
Other recently published studies have shown how walking can precent many of the negative side-effects of ageing. Researchers at Boston University found that walking 6,000 steps or 3 miles a day could improve knee arthritis by helping to build muscle strength and flexibility and also reduce arthritic pain.
Only 25 mins of brisk walking a day could add up to 7 years to your life experts claimed recently. Also when you exercise moderately you reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack when you are in your fifties and sixties by 50%.
To stop emotional eating you need some hypnotherapy, right? A run may be better, shows new research. Changing the way your brain thinks is a complex task. Those who specialise in the field usually talk of changing neurological patterns through changing routine; the theory is that every habit requires a start point, or cue; then the activity, then the reward. So to change emotional eating, theory would state that you need to analyse (and change) the cue (or cause), the routine and if possible change the reward too. Tea is a good example. Instead of reacting to the cue (I want to eat) by eating, you could make some tea instead. This covers all the bases; it takes the cue (perhaps an argument with a friend) but then changes the routine and the reward – tea is the reward. The routine is the brewing.
Although many methods to change habits and stop emotional eating work purely on a psychological level, another method in breaking the pattern of emotional eating has been discovered: interval training.
Recent research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise shows that interval training reduces the cues and breaks the routines that lead to over eating. Especially in sedentary, office bound subjects. The study stated
“An acute bout of interval exercise after mental work resulted in significantly decreased food consumption compared with a nonexercise condition. These results suggest that an acute bout of exercise may be used to offset positive energy balance induced by mental tasks”.
The study followed 38 University students who were offered unlimited pizza in a single meal. How much they ate on average was measured. Then, on another day, they were made to sit and do 20 minutes of an exam, to recreate office work conditions. Half of the group then sat for 25 minutes, the other half did high intensity intervals on a treadmill. Then it was pizza time.
Those who had been sitting ate 100 calories more than on the first test day. Those who had been running had 25 calories less. When the energy used by those in the intervals is added in it totalled 200 calories less. The New York Times said of the study:
“An acute bout of interval exercise after mental work resulted in significantly decreased food consumption compared with a nonexercise condition. These results suggest that an acute bout of exercise may be used to offset positive energy balance induced by mental tasks”.
Unlike our other animal friends, humans have uniquely evolved with a large brain. This brain uses much more energy (blood sugar) than other animals. And this energy must always be supplied, even if it means shutting off supply to other vital organs. The study would seem to show that using the brain only creates an urge for more calories than are needed than when we use both our brain and muscles.
So to stop emotional eating try to include some short but strenuous exercise into your working day. Even a run up the stairs or 20 impromptu burpees will do it.
Studies show us that over 90% of people on a diet fail to lose weight permanently. Logic dictates that if all attempts to lose weight were successful, then eventually everyone would be a happy, fit weight, and dieting or trying for weight loss would be consigned to history.
So why do our attempts to lose weight fail so often? Having been in the personal training business for over 13 years, at Diets Don’t Work PT we’ve seen pretty much every method of weight loss attempted…and then been brought in to clean up the mess! Here are the most common reasons that people fail in their attempts to lose weight and their classic weight loss mistakes
1 – Going all in. Those whose enthusiasm has overtaken their application fail. Eating fewer calories daily while cutting out all bread plus doing an hour of exercise a day while stopping caffeine might sound good, but attempting to do these all at once will lead to failure. Weight loss needs to be done in a step-by-step way. Achievable goals are the key, with a long-term plan. So try to hit just one simple target in the first few weeks – cutting out bread and drinking more water, for example. This must be the top of all weight loss mistakes.
2 – Expecting instant results. Heat magazine and Grazia would have us believe that we can undo years of weight gain in just a few weeks of the latest “wonder diet”. But we are designed in a way that makes fast weight loss counter productive. Go too far too soon and really bad things happen – loss of lean muscle mass, lowering of the metabolic rate and weakening of the heart muscle are just a few of the negative side effects.
3 – Weighing too often. Weight is a funny thing. You might have had the best eating week ever, then get on the scales only to see a slight gain. We are not machines, so are not governed purely by the law of “energy in versus energy out” (although this is still the most important factor). We are instead humans, with complex chemical systems (hormones), genetic inheritance and differing metabolic rates. So weight can fluctuate a bit regardless of eating. The classic mistake is to take a surprisingly poor weight result one week personally, allowing it to derail your efforts. Even a week in weight terms is a small amount of time. As we say to our personal training clients, a week or two is a blip, any longer is a trend. Blips are to be taken in your stride. Trends need addressing though. So only weigh once a week, on the same scales, at the same time of day, in the same clothes. Any variance on these can affect the result and not give a true reading.
4 – Believing you can’t do it. Although genetics can play a part, as do hormones, age sex and so on, ANYONE can lose weight. Those that say “I’ve tried and tried and just can’t lose weight are mistaken. Those that say “I hardly eat anything and just don’t lose weight” are mistaken. They just haven’t gone about it the correct way. YOU can lose weight You can. Honest. It might take some application, or even some professional help, but if any human went to a prison camp on limited rations they would get thin. We’re not suggesting that, but it’s just a case study to prove a point. It’s easier than prison camp.
5 – Working only on one side of the equation. The math: 2 pounds of fat = 3,500 calories. This is 500 calories a day. So if you consume 500 calories a day less than you need you will lose 2 pounds. But eating that much less will certainly take a bit of effort. Instead of this one sided approach, you could tackle the other side of the equation at the same time. So you could burn 200 calories with a bit of structured exercise. You could then get another 100 by walking to the station, using a basket not a trolley (at the supermarket) and taking the stairs. Now you only have to eat 200 calories less a day. Easy!
So take these points in. Apply them. But remember it’s much easier to avoid classic weight loss mistakes if you enlist professional help…in the form of a personal trainer, friend, hypnotherapist, nutritionist…whatever you need to make it happen. .