LIFE HACK Joe Wicks on ‘small daily wins’ and his new...

Joe Wicks on ‘small daily wins’ and his new cookbook

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“Would you believe me if I said you could start to change your life today with just 15 minutes,” fitness coach and presenter Joe Wicks asks in his new book Feel Good in 15.

That might sound ambitious, but Wicks says “small daily wins” – finding a short window of time every day to do one or a few positive things – have helped him in lots of ways. That could be as simple as cooking a quick, healthy recipe or moving your body for 15 minutes or simply getting to bed earlier.

We all live busy lives but 15 minutes is not a long time and those small daily wins will start to add up, Wicks says. Especially when it comes to stress. “Stress is one of the biggest factors in determining someone’s overall health and wellbeing, so if we can reduce stress and make daily life feel a bit easier, these new daily habits can stick,” he says.

We sat down with the Lean in 15 creator (for around 15 minutes) to talk about the inspiration behind his new book, the benefits of his small daily wins philosophy and his tips for improving both our mental and physical health.

Can you share what inspired you to write this new book?

The inspiration for this book really has come from being aware of how difficult it is for people to stay on top of their physical and mental health, especially with families, busy lives and stressful jobs. I wanted to create something that focuses not just on exercise and food, and really brings other elements into their lives. If someone can find just 15 minutes a day to do any one of these little activities, it can have such an amazing effect on their mental health and mood.

It’s really just understanding that right now people are more stressed, more time poor, more depressed and anxious, and so many people struggle with mental health that I can’t help but think about ways of really helping people. This book, I think, answers this problem and I think you’re going to love it. I can’t wait to share it.

The new book is not just another ‘Lean in 15’ – there’s so much more to it, says Wicks

(Harper Collins)

What are the benefits of taking 15 minutes a day to improve your health and fitness?

Everybody feels like they don’t have enough time. Even I feel like I’m rushing from task to task, from brushing my teeth, to doing my emails, to doing a workout, to putting the kids to bed, cooking, brushing their teeth, doing story time – you’re rushing between all these activities.

I want to teach people. Obviously, we do consume a lot of screentime, and that’s time when we could be doing something positive, like putting the phone down and doing bedtime stories or going for a walk and taking a meeting on the go. These are little things that some people may never think of, but they’re really simple little daily wins that you can stick into your day. It’s about daily wins, it’s about small little lifestyle hacks that can help you change the way you live your life in an easy, simple way that isn’t going to overwhelm you. You haven’t got to do five of these things a day, you could just do one of these things and that’s a really positive step.

Can you explain the ‘small daily wins’ philosophy?

“Small daily wins” essentially means understanding that no day is perfect, every day is going to be different and sometimes the thought of exercising is really overwhelming, and so is getting in the kitchen and cooking loads of healthy food. Some days, you’re not going to have the energy or the time to do that.

This is about “What about if I do something more gentle? What if I think about listening to a podcast or learning to play an instrument or doing something creative? Maybe I could listen to music or do some colouring in or take the kids to the park and find some stones to paint.” There are so many lovely little activities that maybe people just aren’t doing, so this is about thinking “If I get one of these things right, it’s going to help me get to sleep earlier tonight, and help me wake up with more energy.” It’s a small, little thing that can have a knock on effect and create a big change.

Do you have a favourite recipe from the book?

Saucy spring onion chicken is Wicks’ favourite recipe in the book

(Harper Collins)

This is the hardest question of all, because there’s 60 delicious recipes, and I do believe this is my most exciting book, with delicious recipes that are back to that 15 minute principle that everybody loved with Lean in 15. My favourite one is the saucy spring onion chicken, which is essentially rice with chicken in a pan with soy sauce, honey, spring onion – and you really go hard on the spring onion, so the main flavour comes from the spring onions – little bit of garlic, bit of lime. Then you make a silky, sort of smooth, spring onion sauce. It’s really yummy, and it’s really quick.

Do you have a favourite life hack from the book?

I think the most important and essential life hack that I benefit from is having the ability to disconnect from my phone and switch it off a lit bit earlier before bed, or leave it in another room or downstairs. That’s really changed the way I live, because I was so addicted to it, and the last thing I would see at night would be Instagram. Even if it’s just 15 minutes at night before bed and 15 minutes in the morning where you don’t look at your phone. For me, it was important to get an alarm clock and not rely on my phone to wake me up. It’s been so good because now I don’t wake up in the night, I’m not scrolling through my phone, and it’s helped with my mood and energy throughout the whole day.

What is the best workout to kickstart the New Year?

I think the best way to kickstart your New Year, and I always like doing this with the family, is going for a nice walk or a bike ride, and getting some fresh air. It hasn’t got to be a 10k walk or a marathon, you can literally just go out. Obviously, you are going to be indulging, you’re going to be eating lots of lovely food, you’re going to be pretty bloated, you’re going to feel a bit tired and knackered. If you can, get some fresh air, go for a family walk, have a little chat and catch up, and I think that’s a great way to start the year.

How will your tips improve readers’ mental health as well as their physical health?

This book, for me, really is about boosting people’s mental health, and I think there are so many tips out there around exercise and cooking, but I’ve really gone into different things.

Change the culture in your household, because an early night means you’re investing in the next day, you’re going to feel happier and you’re going to feel less stressed. It’s literally the most important thing in the whole equation

I want to talk about the importance of sleep, it’s so important for your mood and there’s this whole mentality in the book about celebrating an early night. Change the culture in your household, because an early night means you’re investing in the next day, you’re going to feel happier and you’re going to feel less stressed. It’s literally the most important thing in the whole equation.

Also, ditch your phone and have non-screen-time. Be a little more social and see your friends, not just through a screen or device. It’s going to really help.

Even things as simple as just going to bed, reading a book or if you’ve got kids, reading to your children for 15 minutes, calms you down. Oxytocin, this lovely chemical, the love hormone, brings you together and makes you feel relaxed. It’s this really beautiful way to unwind and destress. Or things like journalling and sending gratitude lists. I send gratitude lists to my family sometimes, and when I do, it feels good to verbalise things. Little mindfulness things, like music can be amazing, podcasts can be amazing, or cold showers. All these things are really going to help people’s mental health, and really give them a chance to feel good and that’s what I’m so passionate about.

What would you like people to know about the book?

What I would love to let people know about this book is that this is more than just your typical Lean in 15 recipes and workouts. There’s so much more to it, there’s mobility, there’s stretching, there’s low impact stuff, there’s workouts with dumbbells. It’s a really encompassing book, that anyone can take part in and enjoy, for those extra bits of content.

The recipes are really good! I’ve worked so hard on these recipes, to bring back short 15-minute delicious recipes with few ingredients. It’s really got some of the best food that I think I’ve created.

Then, all the extra bonus content around the lifestyle hacks, boosting your mood, the daily wins. This really is a manual which won’t completely revolutionise the way you live, but by just getting one of these things right, it’s going to make a difference in your life. The positive steps add up, and this gives you that little bit of motivation. You step up, and go “Right, I’m going to do that again tomorrow and then I might try something else.” And before you know it, you’re doing all these little habits that set you up for a positive day, and allow you to be present and not just look at a screen all the time. We need to break away from our devices, because we’re all so addicted to our screens, I am too. These little steps let you break away from that, and be present, be connected and be happy.

It’s my favourite book, you’re going to love it!

‘Feel Good in 15’ by Joe Wicks (Harper Collins, £11) is published 7 December

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