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How to make huge changes in your life

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By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness

If you want to make huge changes to your life but are not sure how then start by making tiny changes, one at a time.

In 2003, Sir Dave Brailsford took over the British Cycling Team. He wasn’t a professional coach, and he’d only been an amateur cyclist.

Instead of trying to rebuild the perennially weak cycling team from scratch, Brailsford implemented a business strategy called the aggregation of marginal gains. He simply tried to improve every aspect of the cyclists’ lives - training, nutrition, sleep, and equipment - by 1%.

He didn’t go out looking for new sponsors; some bike companies even refused to sell to the team because they were so bad. Instead, he first improved their seats to make them more comfortable. And he didn’t implement a radical diet change or workout regime; he simply improved each by 1% at a time. When a tiny new gain had been realised, he asked himself, “How do I improve this feature by 1% now?”

In 2008, the British Cycling team won eight gold medals, four silver, and two bronze: More medals than in its entire history combined. Then Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, two members of the team, won the Tour de France four times combined over the next decade.

Aggregating small wins works.

You don’t need a radical new diet. You don’t need a “detox” (they’re fake anyway). You don’t need to start jogging five kilometres every morning. You just need to take one tiny step.

My training has been very focused on running for the last six months, and I’m training hard. But my nutrition has left a lot to be desired: Working and studying long hours from home most of the time means every food is available all the time, and it’s all amazing, coupled with often too much caffeine. I knew I needed to get my nutrition back in line for my brain’s sake … and my body’s. But recently, I didn’t jump right back into counting macros or anything too fancy. I just started writing it down.

I downloaded the MyFitnessPal App because it integrates with the other Apps we use at Activate. I started recording my food. Guess what? I immediately started thinking more before each meal. I didn’t track calories or make use of the macro balancing feature. I literally just started entering my food into the App. That’s it.

If your diet is already solid, you can start by just doing 10 squats. Call it a day. Try for 11 or 10 push-ups the next day. But don’t think about that yet: just move.

I love having a coach. I just have to show up, and the coach tells me what to do. Maybe that’s your first small step: Sign up for a free No-Sweat Intro and let Angela tell you what you should do first. Or just do one squat and start tracking your food. After 365 days, if you improve by 1% each day, you’ll be over 30 times more fit!

Book your free no-sweat intro today at www.activate.ie/free-intro.

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The Irish investment market is pathetic

By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com    I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations. But over the last few weeks I […]

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By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com   

I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations.

But over the last few weeks I have been putting together several investment strategies for Irish-domiciled clients. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.

In short, most of the Irish market appears to be dominated by a handful of life insurance companies that offer ‘wrapped’ Multi Asset Funds. This means they offer a basket of stocks, bonds, property etc., all within one investment.

Irish Life’s MAPs 4 multi-asset fund states a standard annual management charge of 1.15%. A bit on the higher side for my liking, but this is still manageable.

But when you dig a little deeper, the KID documents (where all fees have to be fully disclosed as part of UCITS regulations) show the fee as 2.2%.

Double the quoted price

As an added bonus, they lock your money up for seven years, where an early encashment charge is waiting for those who wish to withdraw their money early. That’s right, they charge YOU for making your money inaccessible.

This lock-up period is a shrewd business tactic. An exit charge is an excellent way to ensure customers don’t leave when they realise how poor the performance is.

Too late, you’re trapped.

Performance

Fees become more digestible provided the performance is strong, but unfortunately, the misery continues.

The Irish Life MAPS 4 Portfolio has an annual return of 1.63% a year over the last five years. Granted, this was a challenging market climate to navigate, but falling below even the lowest expectations of inflation means that this fund has returned negative real returns after inflation over the last five years.

A similar 60/40 portfolio made up of passive index funds (S&P 500 and US T bonds) would have returned roughly 6.5% a year over the same period for a fee of roughly 0.1%.

We can go round and round in circles regarding the ‘risk adjusted’ approach and the added ‘diversification’ of the multi-asset fund versus the 60/40 portfolio I have shown. But the reality is much of this so-called diversification is over-engineering for an extra cost for many long term investors.

So, how can such pathetic offerings still exist in a system where low-cost operators such as De Giro are providing endless ETF options and commission-free trades that provide access to market returns at a fraction of the price?

Two reasons spring to mind

Firstly, the Irish retail investment scene is built on a financial broker commission system where unsuspecting customers are shoved into these products by ‘financial planners’ who receive kickbacks and commissions from these investment companies. You think you’re getting free investment advice; believe me, you’re not.

Second, the tax treatment of ETF structures is comical in Ireland, and US ETFs aren’t even an investment option. A 41% exit tax and an eight-year deemed disposal rule leaves investors stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Choose an overpriced, underperforming product that locks your money away for multiple years or choose the cheaper, better-performing product and suffer the tax consequences.

Bizarrely, investors are forced to make decisions based on preferential tax treatment rather than on the underlying investment’s merits.

I have gone into much more detail on the tax treatment and investment options in Ireland on my website. Just scan the QR code.

If you would like me to independently review your investment portfolio, just send me an email at mike@theislandinvestor.com.

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Rebel lights delight for Killarney star

By Con Dennehy The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball […]

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By Con Dennehy

The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball championships.

Attracting all the leading players in Ireland, it was Sarah Dineen, the Spa/Killarney player who shot out the Rebel lights in Conna with a phenomenal display of handball.

Competing in the highly competitive Ladies Challenger championship, the Killarney player, who took up the sport just 18 months ago, had the perfect start in the competition defeating the home town favourite Agnes Hurley from Conna on a 21-20 scoreline following an energy sapping and close encounter that hung in the balance to the final ace.

In her second game she took on the challenge of Nolwenn Even from St Brigids where her skill, superior fitness and movement on the court resulted in the 21-12 victory and a place in the prestigious final.

“The final was always going to be a difficult game not least playing local girl Kate O’Riordan from Conna. I concentrated on my serve and kill shots which ensured we shared the aces early in the game. It was a difficult game with the home supporters out in force to cheer on their local hero. However, I played well and secured a 21-11 victory. This was the second time this title came to Spa Killarney following the 2022 win by Aoife Walsh in Northern Ireland,” said Sarah, who is currently chairperson of the Killarney Camogie Club.

A native of Westmeath, Sarah (46) runs a jewellery business in Killarney and lives in Rathmore. No stranger to competitive sport she played camogie for Westmeath and Leinster and also won an Intermediate championship Gaelic football medal in Westmeath.

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