Water: 8 Glasses A Day? Less? More? How To Calculate Your Ideal Water Intake

The importance of Water to your Health and Wellness
Drinking enough water is one of the biggest challenges for many people looking to improve their health and wellness. But how much water is enough?
Did you know that you need to drink approximately 3% of your body weight in “good quality water” each day in order to stay completely hydrated? Generally this means that for every 1kg of body weight, you need to drink 33ml of water. So if you’re 100kg, you need to drink around 3.3 litres of water each day. So why do you need it? How do you get “quality water”? How do you get more water into you during the day?

Why do you need it?
Water regulates your body temperature and transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, aids in digestion, protects joints and even helps you to breathe – your lungs need to be moist in order to take in oxygen. Failure to consume an adequate amount of water slows down and inhibits many of the bodily functions that you need to occur every second in order to maintain optimal health.

So what is “quality water”?
Tap water has chlorine added to kill off bacteria and parasites but the smell or taste is not enjoyed by some. Bottled water is usually sterilized or purified to remove harsh chemicals and bacteria but it can become quite costly if all you drink is bottled water. Water filters have varying levels of chemical and mineral removal but they often take out the good stuff too. So what are our options?
If you read the label on some of the more expensive brands of bottled water, you will notice that this water contains a higher content of dissolved mineral solids than their less expensive counterparts. This water contains “good” minerals that the body needs in order to maintain optimal performance and are often filtered out by water filtration systems. So how do we get the “good minerals” back into our water?
Although we have long heard about the benefits of lowering our salt intake, the addition of a pinch of “pure, unrefined sea salt” to every litre of water that we drink will assist our bodies in maintaining the delicate balance of water and minerals we require. Due to its pure, unrefined properties, sea salt, that hasn’t been treated or bleached, is slightly grey, pink or purple in colour and is tasteless when added to the water in such a small quantity. If sea salt is perfectly white then at some stage in the treatment process it has been bleached. Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Rock Salt can commonly be found in Health shops. The salt also gives the water a softer, more palatable texture which means generally, you want to drink more of it.

How do I know if I’m not getting enough water?
Some of the more common symptoms of dehydration are listed below:
• Tiredness
• Sore muscles and joints
• Headache
• Constipation
• Poor muscle tone and size
• Water retention.
If you’re not drinking enough, your body may retain water to compensate.
Thirst is an obvious indicator that you need more water but most often, you need water long before your thirst tells you so. As we age, our bodies become so used to not having enough water that our thirst becomes a poor indicator of our body’s need for water. A note of caution, the thirst reflex is often mistaken for the hunger reflex. Often you will feel hungry when you actually just need water. If you’re not sure whether you’re thirsty or hungry, have a glass of water, wait a few minutes and see if your hunger goes away, if it doesn’t, think about the last time you ate and consider whether you are actually hungry or still thirsty

How to get more water into your day
If you’re not currently drinking enough water, it can seem a daunting task to increase your intake. Below are a few tips you might like to try:
• Keep a bottle of water on your desk to remind you to drink regularly
• Drink 2 glasses when you get up in the morning, preferably 20 minutes before you eat, 2 glasses between breakfast and lunch, 2 glasses between lunch and dinner and 2 glasses after dinner (can be modified to ensure you meet your daily water intake requirements)
• Setup a reminder in your online calendar or phone every hour to remind you to drink water. If you need to go to the office water filter to grab a glass or water this has the added benefit of getting you up out of your seat on a regular basis
• Carry a bottle of water with you when you run errands or shop so there’s no excuse for not having access to water
• Order a glass or bottle of water when you first arrive at a cafe or restaurant
• Add a bit of lemon or lime for a touch of flavour if you get bored with just water. There are some brands of flavoured water available and whilst this is not ideal, it may help you make the transition to just water.
Watch out for extra calories with flavoured waters. If you don’t like the taste of water and need to wean yourself off the sweeter drinks, start with a very diluted concentration of cordial and water and gradually reduce the concentration of cordial until you can comfortably drink water on its own.

What’s the big deal? It’s all liquid anyway?
Our bodies need water, free of chemicals, in order to maintain an optimal balance and facilitate the many biochemical reactions which take place every second. Other fluids such as caffeine, tea, diet drinks, alcohol and manufactured beverages contain dehydrating agents or diuretic properties which are toxic to our bodies. Whilst these drinks often contain water, the consumption of diuretic agents results in the need to drink more water because they trick your body into thinking you have more water than you need. Some sports drinks or vitamin waters are useful for topping up during exercise but always read the label to ensure you are not just overdosing on kilojoules or sugar.

Add a bit extra for exercise
If you’re planning to exercise, plan to manage your water intake too by:
• Ensure your body is fully hydrated prior to the event or activity. Typically this means that urine is clear or very pale in colour. Air-conditioned offices and work places can dehydrate the body. If you’re working outside then you really need to up your water intake. Add to that exercising as part of your health and wellness activities and you really need to be conscious of how much fluid you are losing and need to replace before you exercise.
• Taking every opportunity to drink some water during the event or activity. Even if it’s only a few sips, waiting until you are thirsty often means you are already dehydrated. Planning post activity fluid replacement. The amount of water required to replenish the body’s stores depends upon the activity and duration but a common rule of thumb is to drink a litre of water for every hour of activity once the activity is complete or keep re-hydrating until urine is clear or pale in colour.

Good Health is about doing the right things on a consistent basis so start small and increase your water intake by a glass or two each week until you reach your required intake.

The Benefits Of Keeping A Diary

Last week I was privileged enough to hear Dr Libby Weaver speak in Adelaide.  Dr Libby is a Nutritional Biochemist, speaker and author who speaks on Women’s Health. Dr Libby has a fantastic way of making the complexities of our body more easily understood and speaks to groups throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Whilst I won’t go into all her key messages in this blog, one of the most relevant points she made applies to both women and men and that is “…innately, on the inside, we know what is and isn’t in our best interests when it comes to the foods and drinks we consume.”

What I love about this is that when it comes to the foods we eat, we can kid ourselves that we eat well and continue to put up with the bloating, fluid retention, aches and pains, extra weight, poor complexion and low energy or, we can get real with ourselves and admit that maybe we are consuming too much carbohydrate/chocolate/alcohol/coffee/fast food/sugar and not enough fresh vegies/water/fruit/herbal teas/organic meats….. you get the picture.

So which camp do you currently live in? Denial?  Ready for Action? Or Still Sitting On the Fence?

When I first meet with clients or prospective clients, I usually ask them about their nutrition. Sadly, despite their belief that they eat really well, when we take a closer look, despite their best efforts, some poor choices have crept into their eating habits on a regular basis.

Now if you haven’t read my ranting before, I’ll say it again – weight loss, creating more energy, managing blood pressure, avoiding type II diabetes, relieving aches and pains and improving your health is every bit as much about what you are feeding your body as it is about moving your body.

For those clients who are willing to look at their food consumption, I usually ask them to complete a diet diary over 10 consecutive days. Why 10 days? 10 days is an adequate time frame to determine how much variety a client is getting in their diet. Yep, variety plays a part too. It’s very common for people to eat roughly the same 10 foods day in, day out, depriving their body of key nutrients.

So how do Diet Diaries work? Initially, it’s about creating awareness – the first step to changing something is to become aware that it is happening. For some of my clients, just the act of recording what and when they eat is enough for them to realize they need to make better choices – whether I look at the diet diary or not. Sadly, many people just shovel food into their mouths without giving much thought to the nutritional value let alone the taste of the food.  A diet diary requires you to stop and think about what you eat as you record it in the diary. Do you eat the kid’s leftovers without even thinking about it and then sit down to a meal yourself? Do you find yourself snacking whilst cooking dinner?

My clients tell me that one of the benefits of a diet diary is that they often find themselves re-thinking whether they will eat something they inherently know is not good for them, knowing they have to write it down in their diet diary. That in itself can be enough to break a pattern of poor choices and provide motivation to make better choices.

The second step is to look at the variety of nutrients consumed over the 10 days. If  you’re not eating a variety of foods and a rainbow of vegetables each week ( a variety of colors), you’re probably missing out on some key nutrients and left unchecked, nutrient deficiencies can result in chronic health conditions.

Finally, a Diet Diary should have a section to record how you feel upon waking in the morning. There is often a direct link between how you sleep, how you feel upon waking, and your previous evening meal.

Analyzing all this information and looking for patterns can provide some interesting insights to what’s going on with your eating and whether you might be accidentally sabotaging your best eating efforts.

You don’t need a formal Diet Diary to get the benefits of focusing more closely on what you put in your mouth. Just grab a notebook and get started. Write down everything you eat and drink, the date and time, how you slept and how you felt upon waking for at least 10 days then review your diary looking for links between what you eat, how you sleep and how you feel.

The bottom line with a Diet Diary is to create awareness between what you put into your body and how it makes you feel. Even if you believe you eat well, give it a go, you might surprise yourself!

Anyone For A Run?

It’s Spring in Adelaide and with the hint of warmer weather, those who have been hibernating during the winter months are emerging from under the winter woollies and thinking about being active again.
One of the first activities that springs to mind is running, whether you love it or hate it. Now, if I had $1 for every time someone said to me “I Hate Running”, I’d be very wealthy indeed, and yet running is one of the most portable, easy-to-prepare-for activities I know. Put your workout gear on, runners on, head out the door and run.
Running (and I’m not talking about on a treadmill) is a great overall workout providing both cardiovascular and resistance benefits (in the form of running surface and terrain) along with an opportunity to get out into nature, breathe in fresh air and explore your neighbourhood. And it’s a great activity to take on the road with you if you are away from home and want to maintain your fitness levels or exercise regime.
So could it be then that a large majority of people dislike running because they set themselves up for failure from the outset?
The Run
Many “Beginner” programs being published these days are still quite aggressive for week 1 of the “Beginner” program. Admittedly, these programs generally run for only 6-8 weeks in preparation for a “Fun Run” or similar, but they do seem rather aggressive for the new runner who, one would assume, has not run before or not run for a very long time. For an absolute beginner, running 2 minutes continuously, let alone 5 minutes for your first session is not as easy as it sounds…. especially if your reason for starting is that you’re overweight or haven’t exercised for quite some time.
When starting a running program your goal is to ensure you succeed with your first session so you’ll want to do it again. If your first session goal is to run 5km or 10km and you’ve never run before, chances are you won’t make it, you’ll be so exhausted at the end of it that you spend the rest of the day on the couch or you’ll be so sore for the rest of the week that you won’t want to repeat the activity anytime soon.
If you’ve never run before, make your first session reasonably easy like “Run 30 seconds, walk/jog 2 minutes and repeat 10 times”. Do this twice or three times in the first week and then having successfully achieved this, you can gradually increase the time that you run to 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes etc. each week and then start to reduce the recovery (walk/jog) time. If you already have some level of running fitness you can increase your starting run time in relation to your fitness level.
The key is to make each session achievable and gradually increase the time that you run until you’re running consistently for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes etc. Sure it may take longer to reach your goal but you are more likely to stick to it if you take a slower approach.
Recovery
Some soreness and tight muscles are to be expected following your initial runs even with a gentler approach. The best way to alleviate this is to do some gentle stretching and go for a walk (walking in the water at the beach is a great way to soothe sore muscles). Sure you’ll probably be a bit stiff as you start but as soon as your muscles warm up you’ll find it easier to move and your body will thank you for it next day.
There are many different approaches to stretching and you need to find what works best for you. One option is to stretch before your walk/run and hold each stretch for 5 seconds then release for 5 seconds and do this 5 times for each stretch.
In this way you gradually stretch the muscles without creating unnecessary laxity in them prior to your activity.
As always, you need to listen to your body. If you’re experiencing more than general soreness in your muscles, take an extra day or two of rest before your next run. If acute or persistent soreness is present you may need to refer to your health professional.
Frequency
Being a weight bearing activity, running places additional stress on your joints so whilst it is a great activity for health and fitness, for best results, ensure you have at least one rest day or try a different activity between each running day to allow your body time to recover from the impact on your joints and bones.
Where to Run?
Treadmills
Whilst treadmills have their place and are useful when the weather turns inclement or as the daylight hours wane, I am not a fan of running on treadmills. If a treadmill is your only option they are a better option than not running at all but if your goal is to run a “Fun Run” or similar, I would recommend doing at least 2 sessions each week outdoors. When running outdoors, your body needs to pull its own weight across the ground, against gravity as opposed to on a treadmill where the moving belt means you are effectively running on the spot. Yes it’s a harder workout outdoors but experience has shown that running 5 to 10km on a treadmill is not the same as running 5 to 10km outdoors.
Bitumen and Footpaths
As long as the path is well lit and free of debris, running on bitumen (cycle paths) or footpaths provide a smooth, even and consistent surface with minimal slippage and maximum traction during foot placement. The challenge with these surfaces is adjusting to the hardness of the bitumen and concrete which can contribute to muscle and joint soreness over the longer term.
Grass and Dirt Paths
My personal favourites are running on grass and dirt paths. Softer than bitumen and concrete footpaths, grass and dirt paths are kinder on the joints and also provide an additional level of “work” for the muscles due to the uneven terrain – firm or spongy grass, uneven paths or tracks, compacted or soft dirt all provide reduced traction which means your body works harder throughout your run.
Variety is the Key
Like any new activity, over time, running can become predictable so the key is to mix things up a bit. Choose different surfaces, hard and soft, to keep your body guessing. Choose different locations – explore your neighbourhood, local parks, the beach, run some hills or find an oval and run some reps around the oval. Mix up your distances – run some sprints with a short recovery between each run, try a longer run or halve your usual distance for a bit of extra recovery.
So if you haven’t been a big fan in the past, consider taking a slower approach and set yourself up for a successful start to making running part of your physical activity program.

No Time To Be Active?

How To Get An Effective Workout In 30 Mins…

Tomorrow is the first day of Spring here in Australia. Spring is a time of change and renewal so if being healthier and losing weight is on top of your list of things to change or renew your enthusiasm for, here are a few tips on how to squeeze in a workout when you’re time poor.

Let’s face it, with the warmer weather comes more party invitations, longer evenings, lazy Sunday afternoon BBQs and the inevitable Holiday Season Merry-Go-Round, so how will you manage to prioritize and fit regular fitness sessions into your already busy schedule?

First step is to make it a priority. Consider how taking just 30 minutes out of each day to work on your own health and wellness will benefit not only your health, it will also your improve your mood, and energy levels so that you can be more effective in your daily activities.

When contemplating embarking on a new fitness or health program, many people believe they have to exercise for many hours a day in order to achieve the type of results they want but you can achieve a great workout in just 30 minutes.  Just ask my clients who turn up late to their PT sessions!

So if you’re short on time and still want to improve your health and fitness, try these tips for a quick 30 minute workout combining cardio and resistance work. They’re a great way to mix up your workouts, provide some variety and offer loads of flexibility in your choice of exercises.

Program 1 – Cardio/Resistance
If you’re in a gym, start with a short 5 minute treadmill run, cross-trainer or rower warm-up followed by stretching. If you’re outdoors, a short jog or skipping rope works wonders followed by stretching.
Stretch – at a minimum stretch Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings and Calves

1. Cardio

a. In the gym – start with a fast 2 or 3 minute burst of cardio – rower, cross-trainer or treadmill
b. Outdoors – start with a 2 or 3 minute jog or take a skipping rope with you and skip

2. Resistance – depending on your fitness level, 12 to 15 reps of

a. In the gym – leg exercises
b. Outdoors – leg exercises – squats or lunges or find a bench or step for step-ups

3. Repeat Cardio and Leg Resistance Exercises for 3 sets
4. Do Cardio again for 2 or 3 minutes
5. Resistance – depending on your fitness level, 12 to 15 reps

a. In the gym – upper body exercises
b. Outdoors – upper body exercises – find a bench, step or even ground for push-ups or find a railing or playground for pull-ups

6. Repeat Cardio and Upper Body Resistance Exercises for 3 sets
7. Finish with some Core or Abdominal Exercises*

Program 2 – Circuit
If you’re in a gym, start with a short 5 minute run, cross-trainer or rower warm-up followed by stretching. If you’re outdoors, a short jog or skipping rope works wonders followed by stretching.
Stretch – at a minimum stretch Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings and Calves

Choose 1 exercise from each of the following areas and complete 1 set of 10 to 12 reps of each.
Move quickly between exercises with no or little rest. Exercises are samples only:

a. Legs

i. Squats
ii. Squat-Press (squat holding dumbbells then as you come up, bicep curl and shoulder press)
iii. Dead lifts (single or double leg)

b. Upper Body

i. Push Exercise (Push-ups, Chest Press)

c. Legs

i. Step-ups (with or without dumbbells)
ii. Lunges (with or without dumbbells)

d. Upper Body

i. Pull Exercises (Rows, Pull-ups)

e. Core*

i. Supermans (on Swiss ball)
ii. Prone Roll (Swiss ball roll-outs)

f. Rest 90 seconds to 2 mins between sets
g. Repeat 3 to 4 times or as many sets as can be completed in the time you have available

*Note: Isolated Core and Abdominal exercises should always be completed as the last exercises in your workout. Your Core is used in all exercises so you don’t want to fatigue these stabilizing muscles before you complete the more complex exercises in your program

If you’re new to exercising or unfamiliar with these exercises, always consult with a Trained Fitness Professional who can demonstrate these exercises or provide assistance in selecting a set of exercises suitable to your current level of fitness.
If you are over 35, have been inactive for some time or have existing medical conditions, always consult with your health professional before embarking on a new exercise regime.

And remember, start easy, make it fun, and ensure you have 1 or 2 rest days each week to allow your body to recover and benefit from your workouts.

How Far Will Little Extra Efforts Take You?

I grew up in a sporting family. Well, an Aussie-Rules-following family actually. My dad was an Aussie Rules Boundary Umpire so if there was footy on TV, if you wanted to watch TV,that was it. So even as a child, it didn’t take long to pick up the lingo and pretty early on, I knew about the One Percenters.

A phrase coined by Aussie Rules Football (according to Wikipedia) the One Percenters are the “little extra efforts” which often go unrewarded or unnoticed and whilst they may not individually affect the outcome of the game or the performance of an individual, collectively they can.

The One Percenters are not just limited to Aussie Rules. Whether it’s individually or as a team, taking the time to do that extra little bit in preparation or on game day can make a huge difference in the long run.

So what am I talking about? Well in the sporting world, it’s little things like stretching or warming down after a training session or game when you’d really rather just hit the showers and go home.

It’s having an ice bath before you hit the showers to help with recovery.

It’s going for a massage during the week to make sure your muscles are supple and flexible come game day. It’s doing a yoga or pilates class to improve your flexibility.

It’s going to the physio when you get injured rather than carry an injury for 5-6 weeks before doing something about it.

It’s about eating healthy meals, preparing healthy meals and snacks ahead of time so that you don’t make poor choices when you get home late and hungry and just need to eat.

It’s about watching your alcohol intake so you don’t wake up the morning after a game celebration with a hangover that lasts for 2 days.

It’s taking time for rest and recovery – good sleep hygiene and plenty of it!

In his book, “Awaken The Giant Within”, Tony Robbins calls it “CANI” – Constant And Never-ending Improvement and implies that it should be applied to every aspect of our lives – business, personal relationships, spiritual connection, finances and health.

Still don’t believe these little improvements can make a difference?

Consider the story of the stonemason, charged with breaking open a giant boulder. Taking a huge hammer and chisel, he strikes the boulder as hard as he can. As you can expect, nothing happens. He hits it again and again – 100, 200, 300 times and still not a scratch or dent. Passersby laugh at what appears to be his fruitless efforts but still he persists, hitting the boulder again and again at different points on the surface, despite not seeing the progress he is making. But the stonemason knows that deep down below he is making progress. At some point, after maybe the 700th or the 900th hit, or even the 1500th hit, the stone literally breaks in half. Of course it wasn’t the last strike that made the difference, it was the constant and continual application of effort that caused the boulder to split in two.

Improving your health is a bit like working on that giant boulder, you need to chip away at it bit by bit. You won’t always see what is happening beneath the surface but trust in the process and commit to consistently applying yourself to regular movement, eating healthy, getting lots of good quality sleep and drinking 30% of your body weight in water every day.

Now you don’t have to be a professional athlete or a stonemason to benefit from the One Percenters! When it comes to your health, many of the actions of athletes apply equally if you want to get the most out of your body and have the energy to get through your day.

When it comes to your health, the One Percenters can also include

  • Getting off the bus 1 or 2 stops earlier and walking the rest of the way
  • Getting up 15 minutes early and stretching to start your day
  • Going to bed 30 minutes earlier (or around 10pm)
  • Drinking a glass of water between every alcoholic drink
  • Eating before heading out to that networking event or party when you know the food is not going to be the healthiest for you
  • Snacking on fruit or yoghurt instead of chocolate, biscuits or cake
  • Making your own cakes and biscuits so you can control the amount of sugar in the recipe
  • Drinking water instead of coke and soft drinks (even the diet ones)
  • Asking for your dressing on the side when eating out so that you can control how much of it you consume

So if you’re feeling like progress is going a little slow or you’re not getting results fast enough, include these One Percenters in your healthy lifestyle to give your results an extra boost.

How Do You Reward Yourself?

There’s a commercial on TV at the moment that talks about the fact that we tend to celebrate birthdays with cake. In fact, for many people, celebration is all about food and alcohol and ‘bad’ food and drinking too much – all of which can mount up and hit the hip pocket rather hard.

Now if you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll know that one of the things I talk about often is the fact that you need to reward yourself along the way as you work towards a goal – especially if it’s a big goal. Why wait until the very end for a celebration when a little encouragement along the way can help keep you on track? The challenge however is when your goal is to lose weight or create better health.  What do you do when you want to reward yourself and food is out of the question? Sure you can go on a spending spree or book a weekend away, but what if your goal is to save up for something special? How can you celebrate without food and without a major hit to your hip pocket? How can you celebrate without a case of the guilts the day after your celebrations?

So here are 20 ideas to get you started:

  1. Have a nap in the middle of the day
  2. Have a sleep in – don’t set your alarm
  3. Give yourself permission to just sit for a few hours and read a book (minus the guilt)
  4. Have a Bubble bath (or magnesium or Epsom salts) – make sure you get out the candles and oil burner for a real sensory experience
  5. Go for a leisurely walk in nature – without your phone, computer or a time limit
  6. Visit your favorite café for a leisurely coffee or tea
  7. DIY home spa treatment – Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
  8. Take a day off for no reason at all – and don’t fill it up running errands
  9. Have a movie marathon – whether it’s Stan, Netflix or visiting the local DVD store, indulge in an afternoon or evening of movies or your favorite TV show
  10. Listen to your favorite music – loud if you can and dance around the room if the mood strikes
  11. Visit or volunteer at a Pet Shelter for lots of snuggles and cuddles. Or visit or volunteer at a an organization that has meaning for you.
  12. Go for a drive to your favorite beach or calming place
  13. Learn something new on YouTube
  14. Go Window Shopping
  15. Visit a museum or art gallery – often they are free
  16. Sit and People Watch
  17. Spend hours in your favorite book store
  18. Make your own ribbon or trophy
  19. Buy yourself some flowers – many florists discount their flowers once they start to bloom
  20. Plan a holiday – online or visit a travel agent. There’s nothing like having a plan to work towards.

So next time you feel the urge to grab a block of chocolate or cake for that interim goal celebration, why not get creative and make it a celebration devoid of food and a hit to the hip pocket and avoid a case of the guilts too!

Are You A Soldier-On Person?

Even though it’s Winter and there are lots of bugs going around, I was so annoyed this week that I succumbed to one of them and had a cold.
Frustrating at any time, but as an avid believer in the power of the mind and the words we choose to create our reality, I’ve taken the ‘S’ word (sick) out of my vocabulary.  So how could this happen?I’m not sure about you, but for me, it usually follows the same pattern – scratchy throat 1 day, feeling better the next day before a runny nose and then the eventual cough! Yuk!

So, I guess I’m not invincible but the great thing about having a healthy lifestyle is that even though I may succumb to the odd bug and cold out there, I usually get over them rather quickly – and most importantly, without dosing myself up with cough and cold medications.

So in the spirit of sharing (not my germs) I wanted to share with you my top Natural Home Remedies for Colds and Flu so that if you too happen to succumb this Winter, you can attack the culprits without filling your body with a whole lot of unnatural chemicals.

Number 1 absolutely has to be Rest. No ifs or buts, when your body is working overtime to fight off the enemy (cold or flu) then you have to sleep and rest to allow your body’s natural healing tendencies to kick in.  Now I hear some of you saying that I’ve got to …… and I can’t  ……. And I have to ……… you fill in the blanks. But I’m going to be brutal here. You are not doing yourself or anyone else any favors by soldiering-on, heading off to work to make that deadline and spreading your germs with everyone else in the office!  In my opinion, that’s absolute garbage and a gross manipulation of the public through advertising by using the Aussie ‘Soldier-On’ spirit to sell a bunch of chemicals that probably do your body more harm than good in the long term and make the pharmaceutical companies rich. In my mind, it’s rather selfish too! I don’t know about you but I absolutely hate sitting in an office or workspace hearing the person next to me coughing and spluttering, sharing their germs around when they should be at home resting. And in the end, when most of the office is sick, because someone chose to ‘Soldier-On’, guess who’s going to have to pick up the slack and do everyone else’s work? And in my experience, many of these ‘Soldier-On’ people end up taking weeks to get over their ailment, or experience recurring bouts of the same illness because they simply don’t allow their body time to rest and catch-up.

Magnesium Salt or Epsom Salts Bath – just 2 cups and a 30 minute soak draws out toxins from your body. Personally I prefer the Magnesium Salts because I don’t feel so drained and dried out afterwards but they are a little bit more expensive than regular Epsom salts.  I usually have one bath a month as it’s very relaxing and a natural way to draw out excess toxins.

Hot Lemon, Honey and Ginger – I got this one from my massage therapist. Personally, I find it quite overpowering so I don’t drink too much of it. If you’re going to use Honey, I use Manuka Honey because of the added medicinal benefits.

Kiwi Fruit – With 5 times the Vitamin C of an Orange ,  I usually tuck into a couple of Kiwi Fruits each day when I’m feeling under the weather. Organic whenever possible. A word of warning, fruit contains fructose which, in excess,  may be harmful to your health so not too many over a long period.

Blueberries – Packed with antioxidants and great at any time of the year, I’ll have an extra serve of Blueberries  during my day when I’m unwell. Whether it’s added  to my smoothies or as a treat with some goat’s yoghurt. In the Winter months, I usually choose Organic Frozen berries – no need to add ice to your smoothie!

Avoid Dairy – OMG I wish I knew this when I was younger. You see, before I discovered this one, if I had a sore throat, I headed straight for the yoghurt and milk to soothe my throat when in actual fact, all this extra dairy was just adding to the mucous build up resulting in an even more of a snotty nose and eventual phlegmy cough! More Yuk! So cut out or at least cut back on your dairy when you have a cold or the flu (even if it’s only in your coffee).

Drink Lots of Water – As I’ve mentioned before, you need to drink 30% of your body weight in water every day – just to keep healthy. So, when you’re sick, you really want to increase your water intake to help your body flush out those toxins.  Add some lemon  for a bit of flavor and Vitamin C.

Bone Broth – I just love Bone Broth – especially Chicken Bone Broth – it’s so easy to make and so healthy for you. When I’m sick I have a teacup of Chicken Bone Broth in the morning and at night until I feel better.
Here’s what I do: Especially when you’re sick, choose Organic Chicken or Chicken Portions – I always go for the Chicken Legs as I hate eating the wings so a whole chook seems a waste. Pop your chosen chicken in a big pot, add some carrots and celery (preferably organic – you want this to be as healthy as possible), cover with water and bring to the boil then simmer until the meat falls off the bones. Remove the chicken (great for dinner or lunch next day) and serve immediately or cool and store in the freezer until you need it – also great for some extra flavor in recipes!

Sugar – Avoid at all costs! Sugar revs up your engine (your body) just like having the accelerator pedal of your car flat to the floor. Over time, it wears out your engine. Given that when you have a cold or the flu you’re not moving about too much, it’s a bit like having one foot to the floor and the other on the brake! There’s lots of smoke and burning rubber going on – imagine what’s going on in your body. When your body is working overtime to rid itself of your cold/flu, why give it extra work to do by having to deal with the inflammatory effects of sugar?

Whole Foods – I am a big advocate of eating healthy, organic, whole foods and especially when you are unwell. Processing of foods (and microwaves) de-natures  food, removing or degrading vital nutrients and especially when you’re sick, you want to provide your body with the best building blocks and line of defense available to you. So cut out the processed, packaged foods and eat lots of vegies, a couple of serves of fruit and good, free-range or organic protein.

 Gentle Exercise, Not a Workout – When you’re sick, a big workout is a no-no. End of story! Your body is already working so hard to get rid of this bug/illness and you want to ask even more of it by throwing in a strenuous workout? To quote from a recent facebook post by Dr Sara Gottfried MD, ‘Exercise is a Celebration of what you can do. Not a punishment for what you ate’.  Same goes for an ailing body. Exercise for movement, to feel good and help your lymphatic system remove waste (and illness) from your body, not to punish it for getting sick or being tired.
So what types of exercise are good when you’re recovering from a cold or flu? Well, first of all, you need to know that you’re on the mend and if you’re not sure you should seek guidance and advice from your chosen health professional.  Complete rest may be necessary initially and only when you’re energy starts to come back should you do some gentle exercise like walking, tai chi, pilates etc.

For some additional home remedy tips, checkout Dr Josh Axe. I haven’t tried all of these but I find Dr Axe to be a good resource for an holistic approach to health.

As always, if you’re not sure whether it’s a cold, the flu or something more sinister, I suggest you visit your GP or chosen health professional for a formal diagnosis. Then, once properly informed about the nature of your issue, you can choose how you wish to heal your body.

And for the record, Yes I did stay home when I was sick.

What’s Your Why?

So there’s a new craze in town – Pokemon Go.

And I say craze deliberately because it’s making people to crazy things – things totally out of the ordinary – and I can’t decide whether it’s a good thing or not.

I was chatting about this Pokemon Go thing with a client the other day and she mentioned that over the weekend she had walked 30km playing Pokemon Go. And it occurred to me that this new game might not be as bad as people are saying – at least it’s getting people moving more.

So I got to thinking…

When it’s cold and windy and the weather forecast says “Rain, Rain and more Rain”..

When the alarm clock wakes you out of that blissful slumber in you’re warm and cosy in bed…

When you know you should do some physical activity but the thought of going out in the cold makes you want to clean your house or complete that task you’ve been putting off for weeks …

What will motivate you to put on your wet weather gear or add a couple of extra layers of clothing and head outside anyway?

What will make you get out of that cosy bed rather than roll over for a few minutes of extra sleep?

What will make you choose some physical activity over cleaning the house or a task that can wait another day or two?

Putting it simply, What’s your WHY? What’s going to motivate you to move and make the food choices that will help you achieve your goal?

OK, I get it, its cold outside and many people find it even more challenging to motivate themselves to establish or maintain regular physical activity during the colder months. So without a compelling reason to make physical activity part of your day, your mind can get very creative at finding reasons to “just head home and worry about it tomorrow”.

As an athlete, I always had a goal or purpose to my training. Even during the colder months we trained, rain, wind and mud because we knew that doing the longer conditioning work during the winter months meant we’d run faster when the competitive season came around in summer…and training with a group was a great incentive too. Our WHY was to run faster in summer and somehow, sharing the cold, wind and rain with others made it easier to get through the session.

At the moment, my WHY for physical activity is because I love the feeling of being fit and healthy and having enough energy to do the things I love to do…..and I’m also addicted to those sneaky, make-you-feel-good exercise endorphins so I jump at the chance to do something physical!  Still, at times I too find it challenging to motivate myself. When it’s cold and wet and windy, being fit and healthy and full of energy is a bit of a “fuzzy” goal. Luckily, years of being active has taught me that I’ll feel awesome when I’m done and the cold (or whatever was on my mind) will seem insignificant after a workout so that in itself is a great motivator for me.

So here are a few tips on finding your WHY: and motivating yourself out of bed, the car, your warm house or office and into a healthier, more energised you:

Look at your options

List all the Pros (good things) and Cons (not so good things) about being active during winter.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How will being active affect your health in the short term and longer term?
  • How will not being active affect your health now and in the future?
  • How will being active affect your sleep? Many people sleep better if they’ve been active during the day.
  • How will being active affect your mood? Remember those feel-good endorphins?

Set yourself goals and rewards!

Goal Setting is a great idea and whilst many people set big goals (and big rewards) that will eventuate sometime in the future, it’s also a great idea to set yourself little goals (and little rewards) along the way that will help keep you motivated – especially during the winter months. Even a warming cup of coffee is a great reward after some physical activity during the winter months (just skip the cake with the coffee).

The Four Pages Exercise

This technique can be adapted to many different circumstances and is often useful when you are “Stuck” and not sure how to move forward. I’ve adapted this technique to match the blog topic of finding YOUR WHY…

  • Step 1: Take 4 sheets of Paper
  • Step 2: On the first sheet of paper, let’s call it the “TO BE” list, write down all the things you would like your life to be. For example, to have lots of energy, to be healthy and active, to be able to play with my children without getting out of breath, to live to be 100, to buy and wear clothes that I feel comfortable in. If you find this difficult, think about how you would like your life to be in 5 or 10 years
  • Step 3: On the second sheet of paper, let’s call it the “DON’T WANT TO BE” list, write down all the things you don’t want your life to be. For example, I don’t want to be sick, I don’t want to be too tired to do the things I love or to try new things. Often, this list will be the opposite of the “TO BE” list and you may find that working on the “DON’T WANT TO BE” list triggers thoughts for the “TO BE” list so feel free to work between the two lists until you feel you have completed the activity
  • Step 4: On the third piece of paper, the “WHO WOULD BE?” list, write down the attributes of a person who would have all that you have listed on the “TO BE” list.
    What would they think? Would they be dedicated, committed?
    Would they believe that their goals are achievable?
    What would they feel?
    Would they feel motivated to make changes now that they had a picture of where they wanted to be?
    What would they do on a regular basis?
    Would they make small consistent behaviour changes to reach their ideals or go cold turkey and try to tough it out?
  • Step 5: On the fourth piece of paper, the “WHO DO I NEED TO BE” list, identify the areas in your life that you would need to change or modify in order to be the person you described on the “TO BE” list
  • Step 6: For the purposes of this exercise, that is, finding YOUR WHY to be active, notice which of the items in Step 5 could be addressed or supported with some physical activity and would motivate you to get out of bed the car, your warm house or office and be active during the colder months and beyond

So whether you’re into the Pokemon Go craze or not, if it gets you motivated to get outdoors, get some sunshine and moving more, it’s not all bad in my book.

Would You Put Up With A Bad Haircut?

Have you ever had a bad haircut? What did you do? Did you discuss it with the hairdresser and then go back next time hoping they would listen to you and do a good job or did you just vote with your feet and go and find a new one?

It seems that many people change hairdressers as often as they change their runners (which should be every 6-12 months depending on your workload) so the way I see it, if you ever end up with a bad haircut, you have 2 options:

  • Attempt to train the hairdresser/stylist to cut your hair in a way that you are happy with OR
  • Find another hairdresser

Seriously, you wouldn’t give up on ever having your hair cut again would you?
Well, it should be like that with your health too. Just because you consult a health practitioner that you don’t feel comfortable with or are not happy with their diagnosis or treatment, you shouldn’t stop consulting health practitioners altogether!  If you go to see a doctor/physio/chiropractor/naturopath/massage therapist or other health professional and you don’t like what they are telling you, it doesn’t feel right, they don’t listen to you or they can’t wait to put you in a neat little ‘problem box’, then tell them, try to work with them or go find another doctor/naturopath/physio/chiropractor/massage therapist and get another opinion.

Let me tell you a story. I used to not believe in Physios!
Back then I was a ‘No Pain, No Gain’ person and if I couldn’t feel the treatment then it wasn’t doing anything for me. When I was injured, my experience was that I’d see the Physio for 5 or 10 mins, they’d hook me up to some sort of machine for 20-30 minutes and when the timer went off, I’d wait another 15 to 20 minutes before they came and told me I could go and “I’ll see you again in a couple of days/next week”. This went on for a few weeks with me not feeling any different until I got fed up and just stopped going.

But then, in the midst of a cold wet winter whilst I was still umpiring Aussie Rules football, I developed shin splints in both my shins and boy were they painful.  A close and trusted friend referred me to a Physio that was 45 minutes from my home!  Now, it was only because I trusted this person that I decided to actually make the trek out to the Physio’s clinic that first time but I am so glad that I did.  This Physio actually listened to me, he asked me lots of questions, he answered all my questions and he didn’t jump to an immediate diagnosis. Now whether he was conscious of how far I had to travel to see him or not, he was hesitant to have me coming back for sessions too often. Instead, he gave me exercises to do at home that actually helped me and meant I didn’t have to make the trek to see him as often. And I liked that so I kept going back, even though it was a 45 minute drive from work and home.

Now, before you get enraged or upset that I am bagging Physios in general, please understand that this was a time in my life when I operated on the paradigm of ‘Go hard or go home’. ‘If I can’t feel it working, it ain’t working. ‘ I’ve grown up a lot since then and after road testing a few, I’ve found a Physio that I do like working with.  There are many great Physios and health practitioners out there – the trick is that you have to find one that suits you, that you believe in and that you trust.
So shop around. You wouldn’t buy the first car you look at in a car yard now would you? So why not test drive your health practitioners too.

The other lesson here is that sometimes you have to travel a bit further than just around the corner to get the kind of service and relationship with your health practitioners that you want. In my opinion, that’s ok too. If spending an extra 10 to 15 minutes in the car means that I’m going to heal more quickly then I’m all for it.

When it comes to your health, no-one is going to care as much about it as you do so make sure you get the best quality of care that you can. You need to create your very own Dream Team! A team of people and practitioners that will help and support you in achieving your goals.

You can have whoever you want on your dream team – massage therapist, acupuncturist, nutritionist, naturopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist, reiki practitioner, Personal Trainer, Health Coach, Yoga Teacher, Meditation Teacher etc.  Just remember to road-test a few practitioners before giving up on any one modality. Ask questions, find practitioners that are willing to work with you and with your other health practitioners and are happy to explain things in a way that you can understand.

Most importantly, take responsibility for your own health rather than abdicate it to others.

What’s Gotta Go?

Are you 1 of the 50% of Australians who have you made a New Year’s Resolution this Year?At the half way point of the year, how are you going so far?
Are you 1 of the 88% who will fail, or have already failed, at your New Year’s Resolutions this year?

There is a common belief out there that it takes 21 or 28 days to change a habit but Research shows that this was based on flawed thinking and it’s often not the case for many people.

So if you’re going well with your Health Resolutions, Congratulations!, stick at it, and if you’ve fallen off the wagon or happen to do so in the next few months, then bookmark this blog and refer back to it.

Something’s Gotta Go
I was recently at a workshop where the speaker was summing up the learnings of the session. “What did you learn?”, he asked. “What will you take with you that if you implement in your life from today, you just know would make a profound difference in your life?”.
And then he asked the real kicker, the question no-one ever thinks about when they plan to do something new or different. Something almost no-one ever considers when deciding to create a Healthier Lifestyle.
He asked, “What will you get rid of to make room for this new thing?”
And I was blown away. How often do we decide to just do something new and then a week or two into it, we find we no longer have the time or we never get started in the first place because we just don’t have the time?
Let’s face it, we’re all busy these days. In fact in most western societies we wear our busyness as a badge of honour! That is, until your body decides it’s had enough of all those late nights, poor food choices, lack of movement, stressful situations and hurriedness and chucks a real wobbly (that’s a technical term) and you end up with an illness, chronic disease, stroke, heart attack or it just plain gives up the ghost!
So I congratulate you if you’ve chosen to make your Health a priorty this year. But don’t kid yourself, you need to make room in your life to do just that or you may have found that you haven’t made it past the first 6 months. You need to make time to move, you need to make time to prepare healthy meals, you need to take some time for yourself each day for meditation or relaxation.
Being Healthy is not a project with a start and end date. It’s about life-long choices so you need to make room for being Healthy in your life. 
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am no saint myself.  I work on the 80/20 rule.
I make healthy choices 80% of the time so that I can reward myself, without the guilt trip, the other 20% of the time. 
So, what’s gotta go for you? 
Television? After work drinks, every night of the week? Reading the Gossip Magazines? Facebook? 
Video/Computer Games? Online just about anything that wastes time?
You know, it can be challenging when you first start to look at where you can make some time for healthier activities, so start by asking, what does this ‘thing’ really give me?
For example “How does watching TV for 6 hours a night really benefit me?”
If your answer is chill out time, do you really need that much chill out time?
Sitting in front of the Television or a Computer for extended periods actually lowers your Basal Metabollic Rate (that’s the rate at which you burn calories) due to the flicker rate of the screens. It actually puts you into a trance-like state. Add to that a big dinner and no wonder you’re stacking on the kilos.
If TV gives you escapism, what are you trying to escape from? Are you trying to avoid feelings of loneliness or isolation? If you do want to escape, why not find a good book to read which will stimulate your brain, maybe even help you address that loneliness, or allow you to escape for a while and keep your Basal Metabolic Rate in tact. Why not listen to music, meditate, go for a walk, go to bed a little earlier (your body will thank you for it) or maybe you could try some exercise? Exercise will actually increase your metabolism so you burn fat faster.
Now I’m not saying don’t watch any TV, just don’t spend all night in front of the TV and tell me you have no time to exercise, de-stress, meditate or prepare a healthy lunch for the next day. And let’s face it, with so many gadgets and online services these days, if you really want to watch something, you can always record it and watch it later, at a more convenient time.
At the end of the day, for those of you who are serious about taking charge of your Health and your life, experiencing the feeling of a Healthy body by achieving your Health Goals will give you a big enough reason to make the effort to find time in your day for movement, de-stressing and preparing Healthy Food.
So if you’ve fallen off the wagon, why not choose to get back on track and be one of the 12% who succeed at their Healthy Resolutions this year?