ASK ANT Q&A 9/12/16

Welcome to the weekly world of random questions from my clients, friends and social media comments

THIS week is epic, not gonna lie

We go into…

1. Pain, chocolate and comfort eating alternatives

2. Stress, work/life balance and ‘how to kick ass’

Grab a cup of tea/coffee or a protein shake and let’s dive in!


“Why is it when in pain I always go for chocolate. Which i did at the weekend. And i felt guilty after. 
Any other food which i could go for. As my Operation is near and worried it's going to be chocolates & chocolates???”


Chocolate and other sugary ‘treat’ foods make us feel better because the ‘pleasure’ pathway in the brain is stimulated.

The brain is flipping INCREDIBLE at making connections between pain and pleasure, these connections happen fast and can be so strong that we can become ADDICTED to seemingly unrelated behaviour.

For example:

We feel stressed so we reach for a glass of wine WITHOUT thinking

We feel lonely so we eat a massive pizza WITHOUT thinking

We feel sad so we eat ice cream WITHOUT thinking

Obviously, we all know these things aren’t healthy

So they are not conscious decisions

They are unconscious connections

Reason is the brain discovers these ‘nice’ things can ‘solve’ the painful emotions, or physical pain.

Or in your case, the physical pain is likely causing emotional pain.

Problem is, chocolate or anything else only solves the symptoms NOT the cause

Obviously, eat dark chocolate or a healthy sweet potato cottage pie as some comfort food.

But we really need to look DEEPER into what’s causing the pain in the first place (mental or physical)

So we gotta work backwards, which would look something like this:

I am eating chocolate because I am feeling sad

I am sad because I am in physical pain

I am in pain because of my operation/injury etc.

At this point you’re probably thinking:

‘Ah, but I can’t get rid of the physical pain right now”

Yes. But that’s how victims think.

Instead, you must EXPERIENCE the pain

Embrace it

And re-frame the thinking around it

SO rather than thinking, “wow my neck is painful, therefore I am sad”

We gotta think something like:

“Wow, my neck is painful BECAUSE I’ve had a really important operation for a VITAL reason, and I can’t wait to be pain free in 2 months time. Yes it is painful, but this is just part of the journey”

You can’t stop the pain!

You are going to feel it whether you’re in a positive mindset or a negative mindset.

So be positive!

Then you can stop the pain causing you to feel a certain way.

Then you won’t need chocolate, you’ll have something much more valuable….


To summarise:

1. Realise the chocolate/pain connection is an unconscious, but learned connection in the mind

2. Understand that fixing the symptoms is temporary, instead look at the cause of the pain, find the issue.

3. Let yourself experience the pain so you can escape it. Figure out a way to re-frame that pain for a greater cause and a long-term positive goal

4. Know yourself, if you really need comfort food, make it healthy stuff that you choose. Rather than unhealthy and unconscious choices.


“My biggest struggle is stress...Financial stress, being a parent and also lack of self belief/doubt that I will ever achieve the physique I dream of...

Stress impacts my sleeping patterns and so I typically get around 4 hours sleep a night.

How can I fix my mindset so I can achieve epic results?”


I’ve been in this situation, and in many ways I still struggle with this

What you need to realise is YOU are the problem.

You are looking to others for approval and validation.

You’re putting others needs ahead of your own.

You can’t turn off or relax because of this ^^^

And that’s not healthy or productive!

Success will only come when you take time for yourself

For me, a few years back, what I did was go to a floatation tank once a fortnight

Just a place I could relax and think

And you know what?

It took me 6 MONTHS before I could stop feeling guilty about going

I felt like people would be messaging me about the gym, nutrition or training whilst I was there

I felt like my staff would think I was lazy for taking time out

I felt like I didn’t deserve to look after myself.

You relating to this?

It’s a simple answer, but a hard task to do.

This comes down to what’s called ‘cognitive dissonance’

This means, when you try to do what’s right, your brain rejects the NEW healthy behaviour because it goes against what you’ve always done, this takes the form of negative emotions such as fear and guilt.

For me, it was RIGHT to take one hour out per fortnight for myself but my brain went against it and this resulted in massive guilt (now it seems laughable for me to take that little time out!)

For you, it will be RIGHT to take some time out to relax now and then.

It will be RIGHT to write down some goals and decide on what you really want to achieve

It will be RIGHT to confront your fears around money and work and figure out a way to be successful

…But don’t expect it to be easy, you’ll have massive cognitive dissonance, your brain will throw some shite emotions your way…

But the cool thing about this?

After 3-6 months of awareness about your behaviour, you’ll have made PERMANENT changes to your brain

Doesn’t mean you have to work any less, or be less responsible with your family at all

It means that by taking time to look after your own needs FIRST, you’re better able to help those around you.


1) get up 30-60 mins earlier than usual and read, play video games, go for a walk ALONE, meditate, do something just for you (also, when the evening comes you’ll be more tired than usual and SLEEP)

2) talk to those around you, see if they actually rely on you as much as you think. Chances are you’re not seeing things clearly.

3) set boundaries, maybe 6pm on a Monday is YOU TIME. You go for a massage, read a book in a coffee shop. Start living your LIFE!! Block these times out and enjoy them (…but like I said, may take a while before you can)

4) set a plan and a deadline to change jobs/reduce outgoings/start a new business venture. If the financial pressure is real, do something about it. If other people can achieve financial happiness, then so can you.

5) …perhaps the most important thing….ASK FOR HELP from other people.


Epic post today guys that’s all I have time for!

Go take action

Speak Soon


Anthony Shaw

Head Coach
Raw Strength Gym, Warrington