Jacky Leonard's blog

Archive entries for: Mar-2013

A modern day epidemic?

Categories:  Business Coaching, Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

Just read an article on www.publicservice.co.uk providing startling statistics.  Obesity in children under 11 has increased 40% over the last decade.  At the current rates, without effective intervention, more than two thirds of Britain’s population will be overweight or obese by 2050. 

This ‘epidemic’ has significant financial and health costs; with over £5 billion a year being spent on the problem and a loss of 9 years life expectancy, and the scariest part of all is that no one is immune!  Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, family history, you can all fall prey to making poor lifestyle choices which ultimately not only affect how many years you add to your life but also with how much enthusiasm, energy and passion you live it!  

Surely, maintaining a healthy weight is a simple equation of eating less and moving more…right? Unfortunately, although it may be simple it is far from easy.  There’s a minefield of options on the market to help you obtain the ‘perfect body.’  Few seem to provide a sustainable answer to the question, “how can I achieve and maintain healthy weight?”  The result for many is a roller coaster of weight loss followed by the seemingly inevitable weight gain.  Unfortunately, modern day eating habits often involve over indulging in high fat, high sugar options because they are usually more readily available and in many cases, cheaper than following a healthy diet. 

So how do you get off the Roller Coaster?  Well…you are what you habitually do, therefore the choices you make each day regarding your activity levels, and dietary intake will have a significant impact on the quality of your life.  Even if you decide to “stop the ride, I want to get off” and make more conscious choices about your behaviour around food and exercise it can still be difficult.  Identifying exactly what you want to achieve and the reasons why you want to make these changes are positive first steps and here are some others. 

Studies of 5000 people who lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off long term showed these results:

  • 78% eat breakfast
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours TV a week
  • 90% exercise for about an hour a day
  • 80% used a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight

Interestingly, only 10% used just diet and 1% just exercise. 

Remember; when you embark on your journey towards a healthier weight there are 3 distinct stages…

  1. stop the weight gain
  2. achieve the weight loss you want
  3. maintain your new healthier weight

Each stage may present different challenges, so be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Consider the reasons for your past successes and failures so you can build in your own personal strategies and find a support network to help deal with those difficulties when they arise.  Oh and one last thing; identify ways you can reward yourself (other than food) and celebrate your successes.



Constructive feedback?

Categories:  Business Coaching, Effective Communication, Being on purpose, Training & Coaching

Performance development guru Tony Robbins suggests “...everything before the but is bullshit” and he's got a very valid point.

I’ve heard critical feedback referred to as the 'bullshit sandwich.' In other words a filling of criticism neatly placed between two slices of praise. You don't fool anyone; it's still criticism. There's no such thing as ‘constructive criticism’...it’s just criticism. When was the last time you came away clicking your heels after receiving negative feedback, dressed up as a 'praise burger?' There is however, ‘constructive feedback’ which is framed and presented in a very different, more thoughtful and empowering way.

Think about the last time you received feedback from a friend, colleague or family member. It seemed to be going so well and then their intonation rose and you knew what was coming next...oh yes, that dreaded ‘but;’ that little word with a big meaning. How did you feel after they'd used it? Did you even really listen to what was said after the ‘but,’ or had you switched off by then?

The word 'but' has the unfortunate result of undoing the impact and meaning of the preceding statement. 

Here are some examples:

The way you dealt with that customer was great, but...
I think you have great potential, but...
I'd love to help you with that piece of work, but...


Take time to notice when you, or other people use the word, and the impact it has on the recipient. Observe their body language and listen to their response...if there is any. It often has a way of taking the wind completely out of their sails.

So at this point you may well be asking 'what should I use instead?' This depends on the context of the sentence. For instance words such as 'however', 'nevertheless', 'though' are often longer versions of the ‘but’ and can therefore result in a similar disheartening impact.

My suggestion would be to end the sentence on a positive note and start a new one outlining any other feedback, or use 'and' as a link if you have additional pertinent information relating to the same area.

Let's take the three earlier examples:

The way you dealt with that customer was great. I was particularly impressed with the way you actively listened. What could you have done to have made an even bigger impact?
I think you have great potential and would like to help you develop your skills further. How could I be of most help to you?
I'd love to help you with that piece of work and i can free up some time to talk to you about it next week.

So next time you are giving feedback consider the outcome you're trying to achieve and the impact you wish to have and let that influence the language you use. You'll often get much better results, BUT don't take my word for it, try it yourself.

Visual Valium

Categories:  Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

"I have never seen a bad television programme because I refuse to.  God gave me a mind, and a wrist that turns things off." Jack Parr

In attempt to reduce my dose of visual valium, I decided to give up TV again for Lent…the reason I chose to abstain from television this year is, each time I give it a break, it surprises me how much a part of my habitual behaviour it has become; and frankly not a very positive, interesting, or useful one at that.

It got me thinking about how easy it is to pick up unhelpful behaviours; they almost creep up on you when you least expect it, become part of your daily routine and before you know it you stuck with a piece of baggage you’d prefer you didn’t own.

I’m almost ashamed to admit, for years Television was one of those habits for me…it became my visual valium.  Do they have a TAA…Telly addicts anonymous?  It seemed to have the effect of sedating my conscious mind, while over stimulating the unconscious part.  Switching on the TV became a completely unconscious action…and frankly after a few hours in front of it I’d end up drained of all energy, practically in a semi-vegetative state.  Not a good look!

It’s so distracting, repetitive and as addictive as a drug.  In short, it can be a life stealer!  If this makes me sound a little evangelical, I promise you I’m not suggesting television is the root of all evil and you unplug your set and give your goggle box the rock star treatment and throw it out the window.  I’m not even recommending you give it away to charity, merely this…

…make it a conscious choice, rather than a mindless reaction.  Take time to record how many hours you watch each week.  You’re likely to be shocked at how much of your life is spent inert, in front of the telly.  When you know how much you’re consuming, consider what else you could, or would be doing if you weren’t glued to the screen?

Studies of 5000 people who lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off long term showed (amongst other interesting statistics) 62% watch less than 10 hours TV per week.

Just look at the following activities I’ve added, or been able to do more of each time I stop plonking myself in front of the box: 

  • Spent more quality time with my friends and family
  • Engaged in proper conversations
  • Consciously ate my meals…actually tasted better too and I eat less
  • Made time for more physical activity
  • Listened to some fab music I haven’t heard in ages and new stuff I hadn’t heard before
  • Went to the cinema
  • Taken more walks with the dog
  • Listened to some great educational audio programmes
  • Got around to those household jobs I’ve been putting off
  • Read more books
  • Written more articles, blogs and chapters of my book
  • Taken time to just sit and think


I also find I sleep better and need less horizontal hours. 

So, have I missed it?  No!  Although there have been a couple of occasions when I’ve had to consciously stop myself from going into automatic pilot and pressing the remote.  Will I start watching it again after Easter?  Of course!  There are some very good programmes being made that I’d love to watch.  I do however; want to make viewing a choice rather than a habit.  To make it an event, rather than a pastime, so I can really enjoy the experience and look forward to the next time, rather than using it because it’s the easy, mindless and automatic thing to do.