Category Archives: Mind Gym

Guilt-Free Easter Candy, Anyone?

Hey there Team!
I hope that you are all doing well, and that you will be able to do something really nice for the Easter Holidays. The weather is looking awesome over here, so I will make sure to hit the beach!

Today is Good Friday and the Easter Weekend tends to be the culmination into a mountain of chocolate eggs, and all types of other Easter candy! For some, this time of the year is a pure joy of indulging in lots of yummy treats.

However, for plenty of others it can be quite stressful. Many people are trying to adopt healthier habits and want to minimize dairy and sugar intake. But because the Easter candy comes wrapped as a gift, we feel obliged to eat it. What to do with all that guilt around the chocolates that you have received???

Just because you receive a gift of chocolate, or any other treat for Easter for that matter – you are not obliged to eat it! I say again: You are not obliged to eat it!  All you have to do is to be grateful for the kind gesture that someone was thinking of you, and wanted to do something nice. Giving thanks does not equal having to eat the gift. (Repeat loudly for the diabolic part of your brain!)

"The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not "things" but a means for conveying someone's feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don't need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it."[1] Marie Kondo

So let’s practice this. You are at home with your chocolate eggs that you have received from your lovely friends. But, as you have already decided before Easter, this is not the kind of processed foods that you want to put into your body.

Pick up the gift, and in your mind say something like “Thank you dear friend for thinking of me and going out of your way to give me this lovely gift. It is very much appreciated and it made me very happy. However, eating this gift will make me feel guilty and unhappy and therefore I won’t do that.” Then donate it or discard it.

"But surely the person who gave it to you doesn't want you to use [eat] it out of a sense of obligation,...only to feel guilty every time you see [eat] it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too." [2]

If all else fails try to trick the diabolic part of your brain with sarcasm “Thanks for getting me a step closer to diabetes!”, and then donate or discard.

Alternatively write a blog about how to get rid of your Easter Candy…it will reduce your chances for having to deal with too much candy in the first place!

If you do want to eat it – do so and then really enjoy the moment! Eat the lovely chocolate because you want too. Not because your mind is making you feel guilty, just because it was a gift.


Have a lovely guilt-free Easter weekend!


[1,2] The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Today is the Day. Let’s Go Team!

Hey there Team!
How is everyone doing? I hope you all had a great week and are ready for the weekend. I recently came across this video that speaks louder than words. It’s the kind of stuff that I really like. So, without adding anymore words, here it is!

Today is the day.
Just start.


Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

You’re Not Over-Trained. You’re Under-Recovered!

Hey there Team!
How is everyone doing this week? As I am writing this the sun is shining and the weather is absolutely smashing! I do hope it stays like this for a couple of days. Just this week I completed a 10 day liver-detox-fast. Phew! Since I didn’t have to food-prep or cook, which usually takes up quite a bit of my time, I had some extra time to listen to podcasts.

"Most people are not over-trained, they are under-recovered."
-Joe Holder

I came across this one, optimizing your performance with Nike Master Trainer Joe Holder, and it’s such a good one! The Podcast is called Plant Proof, with Simon Hill, episode 52.

For Joe, it all started with being an athlete, but also with his family and the value system that they raised him with. His family was very nutritionally aware and ahead of their time in terms of how they were looking at food. Having the right mindset and critical thinking were also important topics for them.

“Culture had to be created by someone. Who says that we have to adhere to the rules, instead of creating our own personal manifesto and culture, to maximize our results.”
-Joe Holder

It would take Joe a couple of nasty sports injuries, to start digging deeper into why his body wasn’t healing so well. “Doctors couldn’t really tell me why my body wasn’t healing.” Together with his father he started to look into foods for the solution. But, also along that path he started to realize that “my emotional state was hindering my body’s natural healing.”

This led him onto a journey of working on fixing the physical but also the emotional parts of his body. Using meditation, nutrition [focusing on nutrient dense foods that seemed to have an increased link to healing], pain management from a mental state and traditional rehab exercises, he was able to return to his sport much quicker than anticipated. All of these different tools are at the base of his training system called the Ocho System.

These are just some of the many topics that Joe and Simon talk about. Without giving away any more golden nuggets, I really encourage you to check out this interesting  and inspirational podcast.

Have an amazing weekend!



Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

What Will Food Taste Like in the Future?

Hey there Team! How are you doing? I hope you all had a good week so far.

I really like going to bookstores. But, living in Europe it’s hard to find bookstores with an interesting selection in English. Therefore I am always happy when I’m in an English speaking city that also happens to have a great bookstore. When I was in New York a few months back I was specifically looking for one book, which I found. And right next to it stood “The Third Plate” with the subtitle field notes on the future of food, by Dan Barber.

I had heard about Dan Barber before, because I had watched his TED talks. He is also known from Netflix Chef’s Table Season 1. He is the co-owner and Chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Blue Hill in Manhattan’s West Village. From his TED talks you really understand his passion for great tasting food. I didn’t know that he had written a book though. On the front of the cover it said:

“Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food.”
-The Washington Post

I was immediately hooked and got the book.
But what makes great tasting food? Is it all about using the best quality ingredients? One might think so, yes. Well, how do we get the best flavor from those ingredients? Does the soil it grows in have anything to do with that? Yes, that seems reasonable. If so, what agricultural system best sustains high quality produce? Is how we eat today really sustainable for the future, and if not what needs to change?

“I thought it would be impossible for Dan Barber to be as interesting on the page as he is on the plate. I was wrong.”
– Malcolm Gladwell

If you are at all interested in the food that you eat, and what great flavor really means, you don’t want to miss this book. It’s such an interesting and well written book I wish I could get you all to read it. And in the light of the latest Lancet report it becomes even more interesting. Food for thought indeed.

Get The Third Plate this weekend and enjoy!

You don’t want to miss this one! Free Solo

Alex Honnold free soloing the Scotty-Burke offwedth pitch of Freerider on Yosemite’s El Capitan. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin)

Hey Team!
Going to the movies is something that I really enjoy, but rarely do I come across something that leaves a deep impression for days (and I suspect for weeks and months). I had heard about this movie for a while, and kinda thought I knew what I was going to see. But, it was truly amazing and made a much deeper impression on me than I ever could have imagined.

Jimmy Chin filming during production of Free Solo. (National Geographic/Cheyne Lempe)

The movie Free Solo, is a documentary about Alex Honnold climbing the most outrageous wall one could climb, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, without any rope or security what so ever. It is a feat so incredibly hard to really grasp and understand. Yeah, I mean I get that it’s amazing, but not being a rock climber I cannot fathom what his feat really means.

Jimmy Chin [climber, photographer and one of the producers and directors] described it very well. He said, it’s like everyone is talking about how to break the 2 hour barrier in running a marathon, which no one has done yet. Then this guy shows up, and runs a marathon in under 1 hour! The major difference of course being that if Alex would make a wrong step during his “Marathon”, he would die. That is what Alex has achieved. It’s beyond comprehension.

I’m a fan of Jimmy Chin’s work and have written about the movie Meru previously. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend that you check it out as well. For Free Solo, Jimmy Chin worked together with Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi as directors, and they just got nominated for an Oscar this week! How awesome is that!

This movie is beautifully shot, and really captures so many different angles of this incredible story about Alex Honnold. Do not miss it! Check out the trailer below.

The directors of the film documenting Alex Honnold on his quest to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi. They’re at the base of the cookie cliff talking through production logistics. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin Productions)

If you like a bit more background to how the movie came about, then I suggest you listen to this great podcast with Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.


Wishing you all an adventurous, but very safe, weekend!

*Interesting side note: To help his body recover from all the training, Alex had weekly massages. He is a vegetarian since a few years back, and during the last phase leading up to this event he was only eating a plant-based diet. [From the podcast with Rich Roll episode #351]

Photos from

Your Habits Vote for Your Identity

Hey Team!
Around this time of year a lot of people are busy trying to keep up with their New Years Resolutions, and new goals that they have set for themselves. Maybe you are too? Creating new habits, that are good for us, is not always as easy as we want it to be. So, understanding how beliefs and behavior is connected – through habits, can be very useful.

“Your habits are the way that you embody a particular identity”

James Clear, the writer of Atomic Habits, says that “Your habits are the way that you embody a particular identity”. Meaning that if you are in the habit of making your bed every morning, you embody the identity of an organized person. Or, if you are someone who works out every day (habit), you are a fit person (identity). These actions are a continuous vote for who you believe you are. I think that this is really something to be aware of, and to think about! Habits then, become very important as they shape our self image.

What is a habit by definition then? According to James Clear from the podcast with Rich Roll, there are three ways to define a habit.
1. A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to be performed more or less automatically.
2. When you face a problem [small or large] in life, your brain tries to find a solution to that. When you come across a recurring problem in life, you start to automate those.
3. …an automatic solution we fall into for whatever the recurring problems are that we face.

“Your original habit is not necessarily the optimal one” -James Clear

Here is a huge key in order to understand our habits and to be able to change them: “Your original habit is not necessarily the optimal one”. Once aware of that, maybe you can redesign your habit to solve that particular problem in a better way.

Here is another golden nugget from the podcast “Every behavior is driven by the desire for a change in state”. For example, when you eat some sweets, you are not after the calories in that cake or chocolate, right. You want to feel different, like maybe less anxious, or a little happier.
When you come home in the evening feeling stressed and you have a glass of wine, you want to feel more relaxed. The question then is, is this a good habit for you, and what kind of identity are you shaping with that habit?

“Good habits serve you in the long run, bad habits do not.” -James Clear

I really enjoyed this podcast with former baseball player James  Clear, and wanted to share it with you. Rich Roll says on his webpage “This is a highly practical conversation that explores the psychology and neuroscience behind behavior change.” I totally agree! Check out the podcast, it’s well worth your time.

Listen to the podcast here, or check out the video below

I hope you find this podcast useful and maybe it will inspire you to take a look at your current habits, and see if they are in line with the identity of the person that you want to be.

I wish you all an atomically awesome weekend!




Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash
Photo by Form on Unsplash

Exercise Your Brain for Better Nerve Function

Hey Team!
Happy New Year to you all! How did you guys get started? My year started with a nice bike ride to the beach, where I met up with my friends and a whoooooole lot of other wild people. We had all decided to start the New Year with a plunge into the North Sea, off the Dutch coast.

This marked 30 year in a row of the famous tradition of the “Nieuwjaarsduik” in Zandvoort. Of course nothing goes down in the Netherlands without a live DJ, so it was a party all the way in and out of the ice-cold water. You can check out my experience here if you want. Indeed, I am one of those people with an orange hat on!

Jumping into that cold water sure got my brain awake! Another great thing to do for your brain-health is exercise. You need to get your heart rate up and get some sweating going to get the most benefits.

Turns out a bit of sweating will immediately help your mood and focus. It will also help to protect your brain from conditions such as depression, Alzheimer and dementia.

So many good reasons to pick a workout and just go for it! Check out this excellent TED talk by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki to learn more.


I wish you all an excellent start to 2019!



Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash

The Recovery Process – A Secret Weapon

Recently I listened to a podcast with LeBron James and his trainer Mike Mancias. LeBron James is one of THE best basketball players of all time. Mark, his trainer and recovery specialist, is sometime referred to as his secret weapon. They’ve been working together for more than 14 years. What really stood out to me in this podcast, is how much emphasis LeBron and Mike puts into the Process of recovery, every single day. In order to stay injury-free,  and be able to play consistently at an extremely high level.

“Recovery never ends, recovery never stops.”
-Mike Mancias

When we look up to athletes that we think are awesome, we pretty much only focus on how hard and intense their work-outs are. It’s easy then to do a quick copy and paste on some kind of version of that, for our lives.

Meaning we focus almost exclusively on what kind of training we should be doing. It makes sense since the main focus on athletes are when they are competing in their Arena, and we see their incredible performance.

The thing that not a lot of people see though, is the work behind the Arena. Just like LeBron, the top athletes that I have worked with over the years are all consistent performers on behind the scenes stuff, in particular recovery. It might not be the sexiest part of living an athletic lifestyle, but as Mike says “it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”

“it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”
-Mike Mancias


LeBron who already has had a long and amazing career, is still playing, and is not planning on quitting anytime soon. He contributes his success to being consistent with the Process. The Process of his recovery work, hydration, eating clean and training.

When it comes to Nutrition, Mike and LeBron work along the lines of “less is more, keep it simple, eat organic, no artificial ingredients”. They make a conscious decision of eating clean and staying away from artificial drinks, artificial sugars and fried foods consistently during the 9 months of basketball season.

-Ok, sure. But, that’s their job. I’m not an Athlete, why do I have to care about this? If it takes all that work to play continuously at a top level in sports, don’t you think you need to do some work in order to “play well” in your life? If you want to have a life of quality – whatever that means to you – you are going to have to put in some work. Period.

So what can you do for your recovery work? The easiest place to start is to plan in some kind of mobility work daily. Make a conscious effort of when and where you are going to do it. Here is a good place to start.

I often suggest to sit on the floor and do some mobility exercises during the first 10 minutes of watching Netflix, TV or similar. It’s easy because it’s time that you already have. It’s just a conscious decision of doing a few simple moves on the floor, instead of flopping onto the couch immediately.

Start thinking about what you can you do in your life to create a Process that helps you being fitter and more energizedHow would that Process look like in terms of Hydration, Nutrition and Recovery work?

Work on implementing that plan, and have a great weekend!

"A good plan implemented 
is better than 
a perfect plan implemented 
-George Patton



Listen to the full podcast of #349 of the Tim Ferriss show here.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

No Sugar Daddy! Are you in for the week?

Last week I was in walking into a local cafe, here in Haarlem, where I saw these postcards. Curiosity made me wonder what it was about. (Well done, marketing team at Boomerang!) “No Sugar Daddy” is just one of many postcards being distributed to promote a National Sugar Challenge here in Holland. It starts on Monday the 19th of November, and finishes one week later, on Sunday the 25th. What an awesome initiative!

Eating too much sugar or refined carbs puts your blood sugar out of whack. When that goes on for a longer time, it puts an extra burden on the pancreas. This in turn paves the road for Type 2 Diabetes.

Did you know that Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes? They changed the name since increasingly younger and younger kids are being diagnosed with it.  And, if you read the blog post from two weeks ago you know that the latest research in cancer is showing that sugar plays a huge part..

So, join me in the Sugar Challenge! If you understand Dutch, (or feel handy with google translate), you can sign up for the Sugar Challenge here. Every day that week you will get some handy tips into your mailbox.

You say “Great idea, but I don’t speak Dutch.” No problemo! I will create a similar style of short messages for every day during the Sugar Challenge week. You can join me here by signing up for the newsletter, or simply by sending me an email with the title “Sugar Challenge – add me”.

Let’s learn a bit about the hidden sugars in our foods, how to read a food label, what happens to blood sugar when we eat, better options to drink in the bar, what is really insulin resistance and why should you care?

December is usually a month over-filled with sweets and candy, so why not take a week to re-set our taste buds before it starts. We often think about doing something like “eating healthier”, but rarely do we put it into action. Here is the perfect opportunity! Grab a college, partner and/or a friend, and let’s do this together.

"Where there is sugar, there are ants."
- Indonesian Proverb

If not eating any refined sugar for a week sounds like too big of a jump right now, sign up anyway! Learn some cool stuff and aim to decrease your consumption for that week. Win-win situation.


C’mon sweethearts! It’s just 7 days. Let’s Go!

Photo by Nathalie Visser
Photo by Gem & Lauris RK on Unsplash
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Failing? -Not Just Yet!

As I am in my 4th Year of Osteopathic Medicine Studies at the same time as I am finishing up my second degree in Nutritional Therapy (to become an NTP – Nutritional Therapy Practitioner) the “seemed like a good idea at the time” feels more like “what the *beep*was I thinking, doing this at the same time?!”

The pressure of passing all the exams, does indeed get to me. Being an A-type personality who feels  the need to do everything (very) well, it does take its toll. Failing is like the worst case scenario that is just not allowed to happen. Sometimes the pressure builds up so much that I don’t even want to start on a project because I am so worried about failing. Right then it seems better not to do it at all. Does anyone recognize this?

What if there was a way to take down this pressure and anxiety of failing a notch? And, what if, in doing so, we could remove a couple of stones in that barrier of “I will not start because then I cannot fail”.

So, when I came across this TED talk by Carol Dweck, it really resonated with me. What if, instead of just using pass/fail, we could allow ourselves to add in “not yet”.

I really thought about this and played out a couple of scenarios in my mind where I imagined myself getting a big fat FAIL slapped in my face – and then changing it to a NOT YET instead.

It is just a tiny word play, but I could feel how my brain relaxed immediately. “Not yet” has air around it. “Not yet” means that there is plenty of room to improve, to evolve, to work on things. OK, so you were not as awesome as you would have liked to be in this very moment, but you are allowed to work on it. Where as FAIL is just a dead end, on a long one way street. No fun going down that road again, is there.

Did you know that when your brain is in a growth mindset (not yet), there is a tonne of activity going on. Verses almost no activity at all in a fixed mindset (fail). When you are in a growth mindset your neurons are firing up and your brain is developing.(1)

OK, so you were not as awesome as you would have liked to be in this very moment, but you are allowed to work on it. There is air around “not yet”.

Of course it might not be possible to implement this one hundred percent of the time, and that’s not the point. But, I bet you could use this a lot more than you think. I would like to challenge you to use “not just yet” instead of “I’m failing” whenever possible. Do you have a chance to implement this at home, at school or at your work? Why not? No, I’m serious -Why…not?

Check out the video and if it flips a switch for you, your kids, your co-worker, or your partner – how cool would that be?!

Failing? – Not Just Yet!
Wishing you all an amazing weekend!



Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash
Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash