Is what you (think you) know holding you back?

 Keto and High-Performance Experiments


  • microwaving a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and downing it in a matter of minutes
  • or ordering cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory for both the dinner and dessert courses
  • or eating leftover homemade chocolate cake for breakfast.

That used to be me.  (Biggest sweet-tooth of anyone you’ve ever met, I swear.)

I grew up with the idea that carbs were fuel.  That conventional wisdom of the day informed my understanding of how to provide my body with the energy I needed.  

As a competitive athlete during my university days and throughout much of my twenties, I regularly trained up to three times a day, which left me with a sizeable appetite.  

The night before a race I would routinely "carbo load” along with my teammates, gorging myself on pasta and bread.  (Back then, I clearly didn’t give as much thought to the quality of the carbs I consumed as I did to the quantity.)

I’ve always felt fairly fortunate as I seem to have a pretty strong stomach compared to some others and can eat just about anything without feeling ill. 

(Case in point: I was the first woman to successfully complete the Pizza Two Mile 'fun run' at my university, which involved running eight laps on the track as fast as you could while consuming eight slices of cheese pizza…and keeping it down.  Good times.)

One of the (many) benefits of my sports background is that it left me pretty attuned to what my body needs and wants.  As I got older and my activity level lessened, my cravings for sweets decreased to the point where you’d be more likely to find me eating organic, whole foods at Little Bird then downing donuts at Krispy Kreme.  (I was still fuelling myself with carbs, just fewer - and arguably healthier versions - of them.)

Throughout my life, from doctor’s perspectives, my blood work and physicals have always revealed me to be in stellar health.  My weight's been stable, my sleep is consistently good and - a couple high-stress periods aside - I feel generally well.  Why change anything?


Staying Curious - Personal Experiments with Nutrition and High-Performance

As someone interested in high-performance in both the personal and professional contexts, I am regularly experimenting with the tools and techniques I come across in the research I read or that I learn about from others as being performance enhancing.  Floating?  Journaling?  Managing Heart Rate Variability (HRV)?  I’ll give it a try.

For various environmental, moral, and performance enhancement-seeking reasons, I have over the years experimented with what I eat as well.  I’ve tried eating gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, even intermittent fasting.  

In my personal experience, the impacts of any of those dietary changes on my performance felt fairly nominal, which ended up reinforcing my view that I must have a ‘strong stomach’ and can simply eat whatever I want without it having any substantial effect on me.

But when my partner came home one day and mentioned that a brilliant, high-powered colleague of his had sworn by a ketogenic diet for the past two years and attributed her high levels of energy and mental performance to it, that got my attention.

I immediately started researching what ketogenesis was all about and came across numerous studies indicating that contrary to the belief I’d held (that carbs are the body’s preferred source of fuel), there is another, even better source of fuel our bodies can run on - fat.  

I got my partner’s buy-in to trial the keto (Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF)) diet together for at least four weeks, purchased a blood ketone meter to measure our ketone levels, drew up a ketogenic meal plan, went shopping for the necessary ingredients and selected an appointment-free weekend to start our diet on (in case either of us ended up with a bad case of the keto flu).

If you are interested in the details of my experience with the diet to date, you can find that in the diary entries below but in summary, I’ll simply say that I’ve been blown away by the impact this dietary change has had on how I perform, feel and even look.  


The Lesson - Challenge Your Assumptions

Now, you might think that the purpose of this article is to simply convince you to 'go keto'...but it’s not.

If you take anything from my story, I hope it’s the importance and value of challenging your assumptions from time to time (even long-held assumptions like mine) - being open, curious and willing to experiment to see what works for you, rather then simply resting on the belief that you already know best or blindly accepting that the advice you got from someone else must be true for you, too.

What’s an experiment you could try to challenge one of your assumptions?

You just might be surprised at the results.

*Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended as medical advice.  It is intended as the sharing of knowledge and information from the personal research and experience of Aenslee Tanner.  You should consult with your doctor or other healthcare professional before starting any diet to determine if it is right for your needs.*

My Keto Diary (up to the time of writing this article)

  • DAYS 1 & 2: Started with a 16 hour fast from Friday evening to Saturday morning.  Started high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb (<=20 net carbs/day) diet on Saturday.  Normal spin class performance on Saturday morning.  Felt cranky and had strong carb cravings all weekend.  Slight repulsion to eating the fatty foods.  Frequently thirsty and light-headed.
  • DAYS 3 & 4: Experiencing euphoria, no feelings of hunger or fullness, carb cravings reduced slightly.  Less resistance to eating the fatty foods, clear concentration, strong focus, increased stamina on the spin bike.  Not tired, hard to sleep.
  • REST OF WEEK 1: Feeling tired.  No feelings of hunger.  Fewer skin breakouts.  Notice belly stays flat (no puffiness) after meals.
  • WEEK 2: Increased stamina in spin class continues (no ‘dying’ at end of sprints, recover quickly, pulled a muscle from being able to push so hard on the bike!).  Mental state feels like it’s returned to normal.  Feel tired at bedtime as per normal.  Carb cravings fluctuate but minimal hunger (now down to two meals a day).  Body felt heavy during run.  Frequently thirsty.  Notice red spots (keto rash) on sides and front of torso.  Eczema reduced.
  • WEEK 3: Great stamina in spin continues.  Feel light-headed and thirsty when haven’t eaten recently.  Keto rash still there.  
  • WEEK 4: Feeling clear and energized.  Great stamina in spin continues.  Craving carbs towards the end of each day.  Keto rash still there.  Reduced inflammation in joints.
  • WEEK 5: We went on holiday this week so decided to test out our metabolic flexibility by eating out/going back to a higher carb diet.  Splurged on carbs on the first day of this week and ended up with a puffy belly and sore tummy.  Noticed reduced mental clarity and less energy but also a reduction in keto rash.  Immediately craved going back to keto diet so restricted foods to high-fat/low-carb as much as possible while on the road starting from day two of this week.
  • WEEK 6: Great stamina in spin continues.  Often thirsty so drink water constantly.  Keto rash back more prominently than ever and starting to itch.

Summary of benefits: 

  • Greater mental clarity, stamina, and focus
  • Greater physical stamina during training
  • Reduced inflammation in joints
  • Clearer skin/fewer breakouts
  • Reduced eczema
  • Reduced feelings of hunger (plus time saved from reduced meal times)
  • No crashing of energy (ie blood sugar levels are stable all day long)
  • No belly puffiness after eating

Summary of challenges: 

  • Keto rash
  • Fluctuating carb cravings
  • Changing social and emotional habits (eg going out to cafes/restaurants is difficult because just about everything on the menu is high in carbs; struggling to reprogram how much food is tied to social and emotional rituals (celebrating over a meal or with a cake, baking to show caring, etc))

As for my next steps in this experiment, I’m planning to:

  • Head to the doctor for a blood test to make sure my results are still healthy given my significant change in diet
  • Experiment with increasing carbs to 50-100/day and add in intermittent fasting to try to address keto rash 

Further information on the ketogenic diet can be found here:

Cultivating Confidence

What's the next big milestone or goal you want to achieve?

Have something in mind?  


It's important to have something to look forward to.  To make progress toward.  To keep you growing and moving forward.  (As the saying goes, you're either green and growing or ripe and rotting!)

But...are you actually moving forward towards your goal?  

Or are you finding yourself trapped in 'analysis paralysis'?  Unable to stop thinking about scary 'what if' scenarios?  Feeling stuck due to a fear of possible failure?

Achieving our biggest goals often inherently contains an element of risk and uncertainty.  We're required to up our game, which often means doing things we have never done before.  

In order to step outside our comfort zones, to overcome our fears in these moments, we need to call upon that often desired, sometimes stubbornly elusive feeling of confidence

Stepping out of my comfort zone is something I am oh so familiar with.  Whether it's been changing careers, moving to a different country, starting a business, or getting up on stage, I am regularly stretching the boundaries of my own personal growth edge.

Finding the confidence to push through the discomfort that can often accompany the changes required to achieve a big goal is something I've spent a lot of time working on myself.  From all of the research, trainings and personal experiences I've been through, I've learned a thing or two about confidence and how to cultivate it.

I'd like to share what I've learned with you because I know I'm not alone and I believe our ability to tap into our own feelings of confidence whenever we want is a fundamental skill that can be learned - and indeed must be learned in order to play to the highest levels of our potential in life.

If you'd like to learn more, I invite you to join me for my upcoming mini-workshop: How You Can Feel More Confident - Tips for Driven Women.

Due to overwhelming demand, next week's workshop is already sold out, so I've decided to run the same event again the following week to make sure everyone that wants to has a chance to attend.

If you missed the opportunity to register for the first event (or know of someone else who might benefit), here's your chance.  Please reserve your spot here.

I hope to see you soon!


Could 10 Minutes Of Discomfort Shave 8 Years (Or More) Off Your Mortgage Payments?

  • "I'm not doing it for the money."  
  • "Money's not what motivates me."
  • "Other things are more important to me than money."

When I hear people tell me they haven't (or won't) negotiate their salary because of reasons like those listed above, I have to wonder if they aren't just providing excuses to avoid the potential discomfort they anticipate entering into negotiation will cause them.

Because you see, even if money is not a primary motivator for you, the fact remains: you're not working for free right now because - in our current society anyway - you NEED money.  Money to pay for food, shelter, education, retirement and yes, even luxuries if you so desire.

The simple truth is that the more money you have, the more choices and opportunities you have to:

  • invest in a home
  • pay for your child's education
  • donate to causes you care about
  • retire earlier 
  • travel the world
  • go to the spa
  • and so on!

Negotiating for a higher salary isn't selfish, it's the fastest way to provide you with more leverage to create better opportunities not only for yourself but for your loved ones and wider community.

Because I knew companies tend to make offers on the lower end of the pay spectrum expecting that job candidates will negotiate for more (though men tend to take advantage of this more than women), back when I worked in the corporate world, I always negotiated my salary before accepting a new job contract.  

Sometimes my requests were rejected but sometimes things worked out in my favor - especially that time when I got a 40% pay increase and the company agreed to pay for an $8,000 course I wanted to take, too!

I'm not telling you this to brag, it's just that I've learned a lot from my negotiation experiences and I would love to share it with you so that you can benefit as well.  If you'd like to negotiate but are just unsure how to do it, please join me for this free upcoming workshop:

Negotiating Your Salary - How do you actually do it?

I hope to see you there!


How Taking 10 Minutes to Negotiate Could Shave 8 Years (or more) Off Your Mortgage Payments

To help illustrate the long-term impact that negotiating a higher salary can have, let's work through a tangible example.

Let's assume:

  • Your current mortgage with the bank is $ 500,000
  • The interest rate is 5.69 %
  • You aim to pay back your mortgage over a 25 year period
  • This means your fortnightly mortgage payments are $ 1,443

Let's also assume: 

  • Your current income is $ 70,000
  • You successfully negotiate a raise of 20% for your next role
  • This means your new income before tax will be $ 84,000

Based on current NZ income tax system rates, your after-tax income will increase by $ 353 fortnightly.

If you dedicate all this additional income to repaying your mortgage, you are now able to pay $ 1,796 fortnightly... which means you will pay off your mortgage 8 years and 5 months earlier!

Isn't that an amazing return for simply taking 10 minutes to negotiate?

You can tailor this example to your specific situation using an online calculator like this

Want to create a new habit? Here are 4 tips to make it easier.

Struggling to convince yourself to get to the gym or to follow through on that new year's goal you set for yourself?

Welcome to the club.  

As human beings, we're instinctively wired to conserve energy and to be drawn to sweet foods.  

We've made massive modifications to our environments in recent centuries, which fortunately means many of us no longer have to worry about conserving energy to be able to run away from predators or stocking up before going for long periods without food.  However, our biology hasn't kept pace, which means it can be hard to get ourselves to run if nothing's chasing us or to resist that pint of Ben & Jerry's even though there's a bunch of kale in the refrigerator.

So please know, just because you struggle to embed the new habits you've chosen for yourself, there's nothing wrong with you.  It's completely normal. And there are some things you can do to make it easier to stick to them.


1. Remove temptations and distractions

If you can identify something that is getting in the way of you accomplishing what you want, remove it.  For example, if you want to remove sweets from your diet, don't bring sugary foods into your home.  If you want to break your social media habit, install a website blocker.  If you want to increase your focus, close your email program for portions of the day.  If you want to work out more, go straight to the gym after work instead of going home first where the lure of the couch might just be too much to contend with.


2. Reduce the 'activation energy' Required

Make it as easy as possible to do the activity you want to do.  For example, if you want to practice playing the guitar, instead of keeping the instrument out of sight in a closet, put it within arm's reach of the couch.  If you want to remember to journal, keep the journal out on your desk with a pen right next to it ready to go.


3. Identify a trigger to remind you

Use a trigger event or cue to remind you to do the action you want to take.  One form this could take is a 'when...then...' statement.  For example, "When it's 5pm, then I will drive to the gym."  Or, "When I finish brushing my teeth, then I will meditate for 5 minutes."


4. Chunk it down

Sometimes if the thing we want to do feels big and overwhelming, it makes it difficult to get started.  So think about chunking the activity down to its smaller parts.  For example, instead of dreading going for an hour run in the morning, when you wake up just commit to putting on your running shoes.  Then once they're on, just go outside. Then just run up the street.  By just getting started with these little chunks of the activity, you'll often find a momentum is created that makes it easier to do the thing you want to do.


I hope you find these tips helpful and want to close with a reminder about the importance of knowing yourself.  (It always comes back to self-awareness, doesn't it?)

Take the time to find out what works for you personally.  Focus on what you want but remember thinking alone doesn't create change.  So experiment, try something - anything.  Personally, putting something in my calendar helps me commit to doing it but I know that doesn't work for everyone.  So take the time to figure out what will work for you.

Before You Look Forward, Remember To Reflect

This is an exciting time of year. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the holidays, make plans for celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends and jump into setting new year’s resolutions. But if you want to make sure the goals you set are the right ones for you right now and are ones you can stick to long after 1 January has passed, then it’s important to pre-empt your goal-setting by setting aside time to reflect.

Why is reflection important?

As human beings, we’re wired to adapt to our circumstances. The goal we at one point longed to achieve, once reached, quickly becomes the new status quo and we soon turn our attention to a new goal. This phenomenon, called hedonic adaptation, means that we can easily lose sight of how far we have come, of how much we have accomplished because we are constantly adapting to our new levels of skill, wealth, and success.

Taking time to reflect provides the opportunity to notice the changes we’ve made, take stock of the experiences we’ve gained (notice what worked, what we enjoyed, and what we didn’t) and savor the accomplishments we have already achieved. Armed with this information, we can then more confidently set our goals for the new year and trust that they will be achievable as we are clear where we are starting from.

So, where do you begin?

To support you in kicking off your own reflection session, here are a few questions to get you started. This list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to add or adapt to make it relevant for you.

  • What did you formally learn this year? What training, certifications, or courses did you undertake?
  • What professional experiences did you have this year? What jobs, projects, leadership or volunteer experiences did you gain? What skills did you acquire? (Make sure to update your resume/CV accordingly!)
  • What was the biggest challenge you faced this year? What did you learn from your experience?
  • Looking back on the last year, what are you most proud of?
  • What was your highlight this year professionally? Personally? What lessons did you take away from those experiences?
  • What feedback and recognition did you receive? What did others tell you they appreciated about you or noticed you have a knack for?
  • What was the most fun you had this year?
  • What was the most fulfilling thing you did this year?
  • What was the most courageous thing you did this year?
  • What milestones did you reach this year?
  • If you set resolutions or goals for this past year, did you achieve them? If so, what worked? If not, what got in the way?
  • Overall, would you say you are satisfied with the path you are on? Why or why not?
  • In what way(s) did you grow personally?
  • What books did you read? What nuggets of wisdom did you take away?
  • Of all the people you met, who stands out as a role model to you? Why?
  • Who were your greatest supporters? In what ways did they help you?
  • For what (or whom) are you most grateful?
  • What seeds did you sow or investments did you make to encourage your future success?

Reflecting on questions like these can be great for sparking “ah-ha” or even “Oh yeah, I almost forgot!” moments. Use this insight and momentum to set your goals for next year and set yourself up for success.

Planning for an amazing 2017

Welcome to December!

It's around this time of year that people often start thinking about the new year, what promise it might hold, what could be different then.

But here's the thing: if your thoughts and hopes just stay up in your head as loosely formed ideas and wishes, it's unlikely you're going to get traction and ultimately see the results that you want.

Successful change takes planning.  Goal achievement takes planning.

Want to take a guess at what the most common obstacle I hear my clients site when it comes to planning for their future is?

Setting aside the time.

Here are some direct quotes I've heard recently:

  • "I'm going to have to find a way to step away from BAU in order to have clear thinking time."
  • "I struggle to find the time to come up with options - what they might look like.  I need to take myself out of my normal environment and dedicate the time to plan this out."

In case you don't already know, I started my business, write these messages, offer services because I'm on a mission to empower driven women like yourself to achieve your biggest dreams, your personal definitions of success.  

I know you face challenges from time to time on your journey - we all do - and I'm committed to continually growing myself and to being someone you can trust to help you unleash potential you might not even know you have.

So here's my latest invitation to you:

I'm inviting you to set aside some time - just for you - to plan for 2017.

I'm going to be co-hosting a half-day virtual planning retreat - Creating Momentum for 2017 - towards the end of this month to support you in setting aside the time and creating a clear plan for making 2017 your most amazing year yet.

There's absolutely no cost to attend and you can dial in from anywhere in the world.

The live virtual retreat will run at:

  • Thursday, 29 December 5pm-10pm EST
  • Thursday, 29 December 2pm-7pm PST
  • Friday, 30 December 11am-4pm NZDT

(All the time zone conversions may seem a little crazy but as my co-host and I will be dialing in from two separate countries ourselves and are inviting a global audience, we hope this helps clarify when we'll be online so you won't miss anything.)

No travel, no cost, 100% support for achieving your goals.

Sound good?

If so, I invite you to go ahead and reserve your spot in Creating Momentum today so you can start receiving all the details and supporting materials that my amazing co-host, Jennifer Braganza, and I will be sharing.

I hope to see you there!

A Key to Strengthening Relationships

If you want to improve your relationships with others, there's an important fact of human nature to keep in mind: all people want to matter.  

To know you're significant in the eyes of others, that what you're doing is making a difference, that other people care about you and your contributions  - this is one of the greatest sources of meaning, engagement and fulfillment for many people.

In this video, I'm sharing a few simple ways you can use this knowledge to help strengthen your relationships with others.

3 Myths About Employee Recognition

Oh, if I had a dollar for each time I've seen an organization look at their employee engagement results and respond to low scores around how recognized their staff feel by running focus groups and surveys to find out what their people want; then establishing a cumbersome employee recognition program, with rules around levels of recognition, eligibility criteria, monthly prizes...

It just doesn't have to be that hard.

In this video, I'm busting three commonly held beliefs around employee recognition in the hopes it will help leaders like you more easily create cultures of people that feel appreciated and engaged.