Episode #63 – UJ Ramdas and The Five Minute Journal

FatToFitUJRamdasMaking one small change in your life and sticking with it every single day is a great way to guarantee success. Taking charge of any aspect of your life – such as fitness and weight – by mastering a single daily change is the thinking behind The Five Minute Journal: created by UJ Ramdas to help you achieve positive lifestyle changes.

This week, we speak to UJ about the philosophy behind the Journal, and how gratitude is a vital factor in setting up and maintaining your desired health goals. As an experienced and respected personal coach, UJ understands that the journey to great health can be overwhelming, and that trying too much too soon will prevent success. The Five Minute Journal encourages you to focus on a single area of your life and to project a positive attitude towards becoming “reliably better, every day”.

We discuss how mindlessness is a barrier to individual focus, especially in the age of technology. Take advantage of the information available to you and use the internet to better effect: seek out advice and help from professionals in the fitness and wellness industries, and get support to achieve whatever it is that you want. Start that search for knowledge today: listen to our discussion and follow the links below to find out more.


More about UJ Ramdas: visit www.ujramdas.com

Discover The Five Minute Journal: www.fiveminutejournal.com

Like this episode? Leave us a review in iTunes – visit www.fattofitmyquest.com/reviews-2


Welcome to the Quest podcast. It’s all about my quest to restore my health, burn off the fat and win my lifelong battle with weight. If any of these topics are of interest to you, then you’re in the right place because it’s my mission to share the techniques and strategies I’ve learned with you so that you can do the same. So pop in those ear buds and let’s go.

Melissa: Hey everybody! Melissa Curtiss here. Thank you so much for tuning in to the program today and again, quick reminder, we have one of the Fit Bit fitness wristbands to give away as well as Jonathan Bailer’s books, The Calorie Myth.

If you’d like to enter to win those, just go over to fattofitmyquest.com/reviews and there’s a little tutorial that will show you how to leave a review in iTunes, really helps out the show, helps the show get a wider audience and also, it will get you automatically entered to win our goodies giveaway. And if you don’t win this time, you might win in the next few weeks where we will be giving away some more stuffs. So just pop over there, and that will be great. I really appreciate it.

All right. Now onto today’s show, today, I have someone on that’s going to talk about a simple little thing he developed to help you become more mindful and I think it’s really appropriate, particularly in this day and age when we’re overwhelmed with so much technology and we’re constantly checking email, checking our Facebook status, updating our Instagram. We got in this rut over routine which is going back to these programs and online sites and making that our whole mindset for the day or for the week or for the year and what that tends to do is develop a lot of habits of going back and repeating your behavior.

Now that’s good for people that on those sites like Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg and Instagram, which is on my Facebook and people that only email Google mail and all of these other places, they love to have you visit their site constantly and constantly be going there, but it may not be the best thing for your mental health or your physical health because it’s establishing a habit of really getting away from any kind of thinking or introspection about what’s going on in your life and it also creates a lot of anxiety. There’s a bunch of studies that have been done recently that show how much anxiety is created by either watching, listening or tuning in to some of these things and not to mention email as we all know that can ruin your day, if you start off your day with some bad emails.

So my guest today is going to talk about a program he developed such a very simple thing, there’s also an app that you can use it with and it helps you just take a break, stop and become more mindful and it’s very short exercise as well, so it doesn’t take up much time for those who are busy. And a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of famous entrepreneurs and people in health and wellness have been using this for a few years. When I started to use it a few years ago and found it to be very helpful to me and again, it just helps you reduce your stress, reduce your anxiety and settle down and give a little quiet mindfulness break during the day.

U.J. Ramdas is passionate about bringing together practical psychology and business to create a better world with a background in Behavioral Science, Marketing and Hypnosis; he’s consulted with over 700 clients bringing them from confusion to clarity. Currently based in Toronto, Canada and he’s a big fan of Wilderness, Eastern Meditative Practices and a good cup of tea. Welcome Eugene. Thank you so much for being on the program today.

U.J: My pleasure Melissa; glad to be here.

Melissa: Now Eugene, you have a quite interesting background not only in Behavioral Science and Marketing but also I think in Neural Linguistic Programming and some things like that, as well as Marketing and I’m always fascinated when I talked to somebody like you to get your view on what I think is a rampant state of mind for people in the United States today. It’s a state of mindlessness where they seemed to be passengers on this bus and I don’t know if it’s because they’re pelted with marketing messages day after day, from every corner of the media area, from their phones, from the internet, from their websites or from their computers but they seemed to be just riding along and it’s so obvious to me now that I stepped back since I’ve taken control my own health and made different decisions that they’re letting really themselves be a leaf on a brook going along the water and not really taking control of their decisions and choices. What’s your view on that?

U.J:  Here’s the thing. You mentioned this yourself that at some point, you woke up and you decided to take charge of this life. You realized enough is enough and everybody is like that; others call it hitting rock bottom. There are many ways you can call it but really what it is, it’s hitting a point where you realized you’re not going to deal with mediocrity in that area of life and that’s what needs to happen with the people who are maybe like a leaf on a brook moving around mindlessly doing what they’re told or listening to media that isn’t really going to be in line with who they want to be, et cetera.

When you want to make change responsibility, all of these lies within, so when you’re looking at what are the causes of this, the better option for results is within and the more everybody takes 100% responsibility in their life; the more they’re going to be able to wake up; the more they’re going to want to do the things that are going to move in the right direction. So it comes down to a personal choice and everybody usually has a decision before they get better.

Melissa: Right. It seems like a lot of people I talked to, they’ll be very surprised that the results that I’ve gotten in changing my health in the last year and a half or so and they have this attitude of helplessness and I know there’s big – a lot of discussion out there about learn helplessness and how people get this process embedded in their brain and it just keeps running on a loop and it’s like, “I’m doing all I can do. I just have to do what the doctor says,” not to say doctors are bad, but sometimes they don’t always – conventional medicine doesn’t always have the answer for you and it’s a ‘throw off your hands’ and like I said like, just kind of go along with it.

U.J.: Yeah. It’s important to figure out how important something is, first of all, right? Because the truth of the matter is, it’s going to be difficult to make massive strides and improvement in three to four areas of their life at the same time. It’s not going to work.

Your beings of limited amount of decision making power every day and if you’re maxing out your will power and your decision making power on three to four things, I’d be very surprised if even one thing you are able to get massive results with.

So first of all, it’s important to figure out what’s the one thing is the most important to move forward that will overall have everything.

For some people, it’s their health; for some people, it’s their finance. It doesn’t matter what it is but to make a major dent in one area of life, you’ll have to focus most of your resources on that and everything else gets put on hold which means everything else gets put on maintenance.

What typically happens when there is a lack of focus and a lack of direction and a lack of consistent progress that is measured; when there is progress and there is measured progress, there is a sense of momentum, there is a sense of satisfaction, there is a sense of, “I’m getting this right and that’s what we want.”

Melissa: Yeah, I was going to say that’s a great point because one of the things that I did early on was to track and to have other people actually track my progress in what was working and what wasn’t working for me in terms of getting strength or getting improvement in old injuries and things like that. So we had a template we could go to and say, “Okay, here’s what we were in March 2013 and here’s what we are two weeks later or three weeks later or three months later.”

U.J.: Exactly, right. That is a pretty critical piece of the puzzle.

Next, when it comes to health and this is kind of a result of authority bias which basically means people who are typically looked up to their physician as God or looked up to their nutritionist as God, it turns out, none of these people have those kinds of powers. They are very fallible human beings with training that might or might not suit your current condition and we live in one of the greatest times to be alive. We live in a place and an environment where we have free internet, there is complete access to information, almost free that can actually change your life.

So in this day, in this time, it’s very difficult to complain or be helpless or throw your hands up in the air because the stuff is there for people to read and the stuff is there for people to see and test on themselves about what doesn’t, et cetera. And there’s been enough work on that done actually last ten years or so, reliably, it shows what works and what doesn’t and so maybe people just need to be exposed to this.

Melissa: I think so. That’s my view.

U.J.: That’s one piece of the puzzle and the other piece of the puzzle just doesn’t get talked about sometimes is people’s current limits on what is and isn’t possible.

Your current limit of what you think is possible is going to be based on the people you surround yourself with, the limits that you think you have. And these limits are very unconscious. They sneak in and they are a lot of the times below the conscious awareness.

You know what? Most people don’t even know what their upper and lower limit is. People have a little and upper limit for money. People have a lower and upper limit for weight. People have a lower and upper limit for what they’ll tolerate from people. Everybody’s limits and these are unconsciously based upon the environment you saw on yourself with.

For example, I have a friend and a couple of years ago, when we hang out and still a really good friend of mine, he noticed that in our social circle, he was the most overweight and he was about 20 pounds or so overweight and that was his turning point. That was like, “Oh my God! I’m the least fit guy,” and that put his motivation to gear and that’s what focused in motivating him to go on different kind of eating, workout differently and start taking martial arts, all of these stuffs and that’s a really great results and it’s kept it off.

But that happened because his sense of what normal is changed once his peer group changed and once his peer group changed, he seeked out information that he could find to make this change and because this information is available right now, it was easy for him.

Melissa: Yeah. I think that is a really good point is seek out and I’ve said this quite a lot in the podcast before and other places is if you want to make some of these changes and you are not getting the correct advice or support or direction by the people you’re talking to in the medical community, it’s time to look elsewhere. It’s time to find out other people and like you say, now, in this day and age, it’s way easier than it was 15 years ago when I was trying to resolve some health issues. It was very hard to find integrated medicine practitioners even my friend Dr. Mark Hyman, who was out on the East Coast in Massachusetts where I was.

I was able to find him. I wasn’t able to actually consult him, but a lot of his colleagues were around that could be consulted and sought out, but it was much more of a Safari expedition because the internet hadn’t reached the state of it’s at today. Now, you can go on to WellnessFX that I’ve talked about quite a bit and there are a list of practitioners that you can actually communicate to by Skype or by phone and of all kinds of health issues that you may be having and you can consult with them and see what their view is on what you might choose as a plan to follow to improve things or make changes and of course, with every one of those people and as well as traditional medical people, they’re always going to try to manage your expectations by saying we probably will be able to change this – most likely we’ll be able to change this.

They’re not going to say, “Yes, we absolutely will be able to change it,” but if you have the attitude – I mean the attitude I took was – I have massive insulin resistance metabolic syndrome. Can these things be reversed? I want to know doc and my doctor – the guy who called my performance doctor from Wellness FX, he said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Some people can; some people can’t. If the damage is too much, but he said, you definitely improved things will be better, but he said, “I can’t give you an answer,” and I was like, “What do I have to lose?” Nothing. So let’s try it.

The results were for me were great because I was able to reverse it and able to change things, but if you don’t talk to someone like that or to choose to find someone like that to work with or bounce your ideas that you want to do off of your sort of stuck in the same breath for the near future and the future period.

U.J.: Absolutely. I think whatever first step and for people who are overwhelmed, I think what’s really important is to make things as simple as possible and make it easy to follow.

Something winning in every day, for example, is a really simple thing that there are a few pounds here and there, but it’s a practice of weighing in every day and just to get an awareness of what’s going on with my body is a great idea.

Things like a small first step is calling up wellness effects, seeing what information is out there, making it non-overloading, making it non-complex and doing something every day – really simple. Remarkable results, any feel or whatsoever; it is how greatness achieved by doing small things intentionally every day.

Melissa: Right, I totally agree. Its small steps, the Kaizen method has this. I do want to get on to gratitude and a five-minute journal which people listening may not be familiar with but you developed this practice yourself and then, put it out for people to use in an actual paper book form which people can get and then, is in app form last year I believe.

Can you talk a little bit about how you developed the five-minute journal, what it’s about? How it can help people no matter what state they’re in?

U.J.: So a five-minute journal is focused to help people every day very similar to a toothbrush for your minds. Everybody brushes their teeth morning and night hopefully and they’re doing that for very specific reasons. They do that because they don’t want their breath to smell, they want to keep their teeth long term, they want to have a good breath, they want to maintain their dental hygiene and you miss brushing your teeth for a day. Maybe you’re going to have those stinky teeth not much else but let’s say you miss brushing your teeth for a month, two, three, four add up and see when you’re going to have teeth issues.

What’s interesting is, very few people have a regular practice to ensure their practicing mental hygiene. Very few people have the consistent meditation practice, people talk about it’s hard, you need full power or those other stuff and it’s difficult to do.

People give up after maybe a month or two because they’re not seeing the results and these removes all of the injections that people have typically to keeping a journal because: (A) it’s a directive. It’s under five minutes. It’s going to take morning and night (B) You have direct the questions and very limited space to enter those answers in.

The reason there was limited space is it’s very intentional because we don’t want people to start writing essays. It’s supposed to be five minutes. It’s not going to be five minutes unless you actually, every day are able to limit your answers through a specific length. And very similar to toothbrush you do as soon as you wake up in the morning or right before you go to bed.

Now, these are the two times that are really powerful for setting a course and setting the direction for the day and also ending it, ending on a positive note, ending it in a way that it allows you to remember the things that are really good and focus on how you can improve yourself.

Kaizen, like we’ve mentioned before one of the questions in the evening is how could I make today better? And that’s the question to help people to just brainstorm on themselves and not to get down on themselves; that’s the last thing that they should be doing. It’s hot. That was a good day but I’m curious if it would be better, what could I have done and maybe I can do this tomorrow or the next day and what am I going to do to ensure I do this tomorrow or the next day, that kind of thing.

And not just exists – so people are always constantly learning and growing. I think learning and growing is rather conscious or it’s painfully unconscious. You can choose to do it every day and become better and that can be fun or life’s going to hit you in the head with stuff and then you’re going to have to learn how to do it and it’s not going to be very pleasant.

Melissa: Yeah, and I think one of the things that came back to me when I first started doing this was when I taught skiing a while back; we used to always try to get people to focus on after the lesson. This is either adults or kids and more for adults, I’d say because they were less resilient is the wins, the small wins they had during the time and when you look at it if you’re on the skier, you think to yourself, “What? I’m going to get this person to go up to sightsee hill and come down without falling down that’s the monumental task. How can it possibly?

So when they achieved it or achieve some part of it and you said at the end of the lesson an hour or two whatever it was, look at all the winds you’ve went from not being able to do anything to do this, this, and this – tada, there you go.

So when I started doing the journal, that brought me back to that practice of reviewing the day and saying. “Here are the wins I had. These are all the things that did go right and those are great and then here’s some things I want to do better and also I think when you do the night time version, it helps to put your mind in a more calm state for sleep. Have you had feedback about that?

U.J.: Actually, there’s been research on this and it’s been shown that when people are, they typically practice gratitude before they go to sleep have deeper sleep or better rest more and people typically family, friends etc. have given comments that they’re positive their pro-social behavior increases and there’s really a ton of positive effects that come from with very simple practice actually.

Melissa: Wow, that’s cool. So people should definitely pick this up because it’s a good way and we’ll put a link in the show notes to the five minute journal website because like you said there’s a I believe they can download a sample like a little page to work on.

U.J.: Yes, there’s no download, there’s just the template that you’ll be able to see what is in the journal.

Melissa: You can just copy that and use it or the app is in both android and iPhone?

U.J.: There’s iPhone no android. So for people with iPhones or iPads should be able to get that too if you want that version. But I want to talk about too, there is something, and this was brought up to me when I had recent diagnosis of lead, high amount of lead in my blood and I was doing some metal detox work and the specialist was talking to me about the effects of this and so on and so forth and was wondering how my mental capacity had survived given the amount of lead I’ve taken in at some point.

I was mentioning that I had taken up a sailing kind of, as an adult later in life a few years ago and it was mental it was like playing chess on the water because I went into – I learned to sail, then I went into racing and then I went into higher levels of it so he said well it required you later in life to use your brain to think about what you’re going to do, but also to use your arms and legs and to steer the boat since it is a small like little day sailor boat and I was learning and he said that probably saved a lot of your brain function from being just destroyed by the lead.

And I wanted to bring that back to the journal because the act of writing things down you talked about on your website and how that has a big effect on your mental state and what your brain is learning and not learning and taking in and not taking in. It’s physically pen and paper writing things down or writing things out.

U.J.: It’s actually remarkable a lot of people a long time ago all the way until now Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Buxton Fuller every major athlete that I followed as always got detailed logs on their life.

It’s almost a rare exception to see somebody who hasn’t done that and so having a journal is the simplest, most convenient thing to making progress in life and something about the five minute journal allows you to do that by having taken about 20 years Psychology research and condensed it into a simple easy to do format that you can do every day.  I actually prefer the pen and paper. I actually prefer the physical copy and that’s why I recommend to most people because a you can keep around I like the touch of pen and paper and it’s just something that works for me and I can carry it everywhere I go it’s not very big the form factor is wonderful and then I just like flipping back and checking and seeing all my entries for the past week month or whatever as well.

Melissa: Yeah, I think it’s helpful that way because you can go back and if you were having a bad day or if you got a bad day this particular day you can look back at a worse day or a much better day in your past. But also what have you discovered about how gratitude can actually improve your mental attitude as far as happiness and up mood goes?

U.J: There are researchers show that it improved how people look at situations for example, because what you’re doing is you’re basically training your mind consistently to look at what’s good, look at what can work, look at what the opportunity in the situation and so very similar to strength training this is strength training for the mind because in difficult times and stressful situations and everybody has these the mind automatically reverse to training and what it’s been trained to do and because a lot of people haven’t trained this they typically revert to negative thought patterns. They revert to negative ways of thinking, not because that’s what they want, but because they’ve never actually trained it to do something different.

Melissa: That’s very true.

U.J.: And the strength training is a really good analogy because the more negative situation the more the pressure on the mind, the more it’s going to be easier for the mind should revert into negative patterns of thinking and some people say I’m already a positive thinker why do I need this? I’m already strong why do I need to go to the gym?

Melissa: Got it, right.

U.J.: Right because people who are already strong and know the importance of maintaining strength and incrementally becoming stronger and stronger and stronger and yes it takes time but anything worth doing, anything meaningful anything worthwhile takes time.

Melissa: I think that’s really good point about reverting to an old pattern and not really recognizing it. I’ve seen that of course in myself many times but I think that’s a really good analogy because you want your mind to go to the positive side as you said it helps you to look at situations differently. That’s the thing that really stood out or has stood out for me in the last year and a half is normally you would have a reaction and bam! You would go right to a negative pattern of old thinking I guess you’d say.

And you’d go down that path lickety-split, zoom! You’re down that path and you’re going further and further into this negative kind of like future pacing or something where you’re seeing the worst possible thing happening instead of pausing calmly and looking at it from all angles, I guess you’d say it gives you kind of a more 360 view of well this is not good but it could work out this way or this could have or that we could do this and this might work out.

And there’s a kind of a calmness when faced with a serious – I don’t want to say crisis but something upsetting let’s put it that way that I’ve noticed if something unexpected happens who knows you have a fender bender or something instead of going down that path of, “Oh no, what’s my insurance company give?… and building up all these things you say, “Well you know maybe it’s not quite that bad you know. Maybe this person will actually pay for the accident or whatever.” But it helps you has helped me anyway be a little bit more analytical in a calm way and stepping back from the situation and just looking at all perspectives of it.

U.J.: And you know what? This is the same thing like I said because of the time because it’s just literally less than five minutes and because it’s easy to see results but in a very short period in four to five days. You’ll see a difference. And everybody I’ve talked to typically four to five days if you do it it’s going to make a difference. It’s really interesting.

When people stop doing and they know they feel the change. They know they’re not as on their game as usual but for some reason they’ve just stopped doing it. And that’s sad because again it’s five minutes, it’s not a big commitment. It’s disproportionate in terms of how your day goes when you don’t feel it and so it’s really is surprising from when people know that it’s not, it’s working for them they don’t do it. It’s… I don’t get it but hey some people are like that.

Melissa: True. Now also you write about on your blog that gratitude has also been shown to make you more resilient and actually physically resilient as well as mentally resilient.

U.J.: What’s interesting is and we still don’t know what this [25:24 inaudible] and one of the studies it was actually shown that people who well… and the things were grateful for once a week not once a day. Not in the morning once a week at any time but the thing is actually sort of exercising 30 minutes more on average as opposed to people who didn’t.

We have no idea why this happens. We have no idea but as for the research shows and that’s a remarkable thing I think. Because [inaudible 0:25:48] even a little bit of exercise is shown through remarkably raised about being neurotransmitters, these indicators of health in general.

Melissa: Yes, definitely. I’m proof of that because I was only able to… I was really having a lot of injuries old injuries and osteoarthritis and stuff when I first got going. And I couldn’t really do much I could walk and that’s what I did.

I did some walking and I eventually obviously do physical therapy. I bumped up my walking to 10,000 steps which I tried to get in everyday no matter what. Just moving around plus walking to create those 10,000 steps, but my mental attitude did begin to change very quickly there and I found again the walks where a good chance to practice some mindfulness as opposed to mindlessness and take a break from it. But it’s really interesting to know that because again, that’s just one more plus for doing this every day.

U.J. Absolutely.

Melissa: Alright, well I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, Eugene. I know you’re super busy but we’re going to put a link to five minute journal so people can find that. And where they can find you personally? Because your blog your own personal blog is very interesting and there’s a lot of interesting information you’ve got there that you share. Where they can find you online?

U.J.: Well, ujramdas.com, u-j-r-a-m-d-a-s.com is the best way to find me. You can also check out 500journal.com that’s where the product is and we have lots of news things coming so I’ll keep everybody in the loop. Just feel free to sign up on the email list.

Melissa: I was going to say will you be speaking, anywhere coming up or any conferences or anything?

U.J.: I’ll be at [inaudible 0:27:24] and probably this is April so by the time this comes out most likely in April I’m really excited about that but no speaking next few months.

Melissa: Okay, cool but people should keep, should sign up on your sites so they can find out what new things are coming out because I think any tools along this line are great for people. And in my opinion you get so much benefit out of this and it’s as you say a relatively simple and time-saving. Minimal amount of time spent with maximum amount of return.

U.J.: And isn’t that what all of us are looking for. One idea I want to leave everybody with is just simple thing that I think can make a major difference. I’m a fan of Anderson Silva be an MMA fighter he won I think seven or so championship bouts in a row. I think he kept his belt for seven years before he injured during a fight and put him out of commission, but there’s something he said, ”Become better reliably better every day.” If there’s one thing you can become reliably better so whatever you choose to do to become better you just sticks every day.

It was Kaizen we would talk about, but it’s actually bigger than that. Albert Einstein calls compound interest. The 8th wonder of the world, but this is Kaizen is like, compound interest magic for behaviors.

Imagine you can reliably become a better person every day and most changes stick. And they can stick a year or two years or 10 years you become a person unrecognizable to people 10 years ago because you become so much better and all you did every day was to ensure you did that one thing reliably better. It’s a powerful idea and I think it can really help a lot of people who actually implement it.

Melissa: Yes, I totally I agree and also to – I don’t want to say it’s the gateway, but I think of it as a gateway to doing more in terms of meditation and I know I’ve struggled with doing meditation and doing mindful practices over the years but this has helped me to get into doing that in a brief another step in another direction every day too. And that again has helped me with stress relief and anxiety relief and all these things that trouble you in everyday life. It’s sort of a gateway to taking you a little bit further down that path in a very gentle way. It’s like taking your hand down the path.

U.J.: Absolutely.

Melissa: Okay, Eugene, thank you so much.

U.J.: My pleasure Melissa. Thanks for having.

Melissa: Hey everyone, thank you so much for listening to today’s program. If you’d like more information about anything discussed in today’s program just go to fattofitmyquest.com/podcast and you’ll find the show notes for each episode with all the links and relevant topics mentioned. Also, if you have a question we’d love to hear from you so just go to the homepage fattofitmyquest.com and on the right hand side there’s a button that says, “Ask a question”, just tap it and you can start talking into your computer or mobile device and ask us a question and we are happy to get back to you. And a reminder a new program will be coming out every Thursday, so don’t miss a single one, subscribe and we’ll see you next Thursday.


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