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!

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.

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?

Are You Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?

It’s not entirely clear exactly where this phrase originated, but one popular theory is that it started in Irish pubs where gambling (and boasting) were common.  A person would boast that they could do something and another person would challenge them to bet on it.   The theory being that if they were unwilling to gamble money on what they’d been talking about, they were just all talk and basically full of it.  Hence putting your money where your mouth is.

So my take on this in a Health context is this:
You say you’re interested in your Health, in living a long and healthy life. But are you spending your time, effort and your money to ensure that happens?

The lifestyle choices you make today can have an enormous impact on your future and this could not be more true when it comes to your Health.

Your Lifestyle choices can lead to the development of certain chronic and lifestyle diseases.  Despite having choice and control when it comes down to lifestyle factors – such as what we eat, how often we exercise, whether we choose to smoke and the amount of alcohol we drink, lifestyle diseases remain the leading cause of death in Australia.

Back in 2013 the government’s State of Preventative Health Report indicated that 63% of Australians were overweight or obese. And that was back in 2013!

So if you don’t want to join this growing trend, are you putting your money, time and effort where your mouth is when it comes to your Health?

Of course it’s easy to say “Yes” – perhaps you have Private Health Cover, many Australians do. That’s got to count for something doesn’t it? Yes it does, but you have to admit that’s quite a passive act – pay some money to a big corporation just in case you need an operation or become ill down the track. And what of the additional costs due to being unable to work, or time off required to visit various specialists, prescription medications for the rest of your life? And then there’s the limitations to the quality of your life – not being able to play with the kids or make it up the street without getting puffed out. It’s all a bit of a gamble really.  And let’s face it, it’s not a lottery you want to win!

So whilst having Private Health Insurance is a great idea, what else can you choose to do to ensure that you don’t end up with a chronic illness or disease that could have easily be prevented had you “put your money where your mouth is”?

Warning, these suggestions will require you to put your money where your mouth is!

Exercise – join a gym, sporting group or commit to regular exercise.
Exercising with a friend or in a group is a great way to keep you committed.
If you’re unsure what to do, haven’t exercised for a while or have existing injuries, find a trainer who can teach you what to do, create a program that allows you to work within your limits and rehabilitate injuries and will keep you accountable to your goals

Food – Buy the absolute best quality produce you can afford. Sadly, most people shop for food like they shop for petrol for their cars, the cheaper the better. The difference between petrol in a car and food in your body is that a car needs petrol to run, your body needs food to create the cells that make up your brain, your gut, your blood. So if Health is a priority for you, spend your money with local and organic farmers, creating health, rather than save a little now and spend a whole lot more money with the medical profession later on, trying to get your health back.
I’m talking organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible, avoiding the Dirty Dozen at a minimum.  Organic, grass-fed meats and chicken and fresh, not farmed, fish.
Avoid junk food, keep sugar and alcohol to a minimum (a great way to save money).

Get regular Health check-ups – With the amazing advances of western medicine, we have the opportunity these days to test for a myriad of disease and illness, even genetic testing to see if you’re predisposed to a particular illness. A problem discovered early is a problem more easily managed or hopefully resolved completely

Now a word of caution, if you do believe you are predisposed to a particular illness, whether through heredity or genetic testing, remember, genetics may load the gun but your lifestyle will determine whether the trigger gets pulled or not!

So whether it’s a western medical doctor, naturopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist, acupuncturist, Chinese medicine practitioner, osteopath, massage therapist or another chosen health professional, ensure you’re getting regular check-ups.

 Massage or Other Body Work – If you have a car, do you regularly get it serviced? Get it checked over, a grease and oil change even if nothing in particular feels wrong? Most people know that it’s a good idea to get a tune-up for your car on a regular basis. If you treat your car so well, why not treat your body that well too? If you are exercising regularly, it’s important to stretch well and get regular body work (massage, reiki, acupuncture, physio, chiropractic – whatever works for you) to keep your body supple, flexible and in tune. It’s so easy to create muscle imbalances if you’re not exercising both sides, upper and lower body evenly. An ounce of prevention is better than wasting days, weeks or months of pain, time off work, time to attend appointments, pills, creams, medications etc.

 Natural Health or Allied Health Professionals – If your aim is to lose weight and you’ve spent years trying, with limited results, chances are there’s something else going on in your body.
There are so many overweight and obese people in Australia today that it’s hard for me to imagine that all of them are just sitting on the couch eating crappy food and watching TV.
It’s no longer just about Energy In vs Energy Out.
You could be eating well, moving regularly but still not making progress if your digestion or your hormones are not functioning correctly.  Even though you’re eating healthy food, if your body is not extracting the nutrients from the food you eat, then you might be overweight but undernourished.
So rather than sticking your head in the sand until something major happens, like a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, diabetes, etc. and hoping the current health system will save you, why not take ownership of your health issue? Visit your doctor or investigate natural or allied health professionals who specialize in a natural approach to healing and can prescribe herbs and natural remedies to give your body that little bit of extra support to get it back functioning the way it was meant to.
PS. If you’re not one of the couch sitting, crap-food-eating individuals I mentioned earlier, and your doctor still says you’re just eating too much and not exercising enough, I highly recommend you visit a natural or allied health professional.

 Supplements – I used to be totally against taking supplements. I was totally against popping any sort of pills. To me, popping pills was just a way to alleviate some pain, rather than get to the root cause. In the world I grew up in, Got a Headache?  Pop an Asprin. Got a sore throat? Pop an Asprin. Got a Stomach Ache? Pop an Asprin.
These days, I’ve changed my tune a bit. To borrow a saying from Dr Mark Hyman,
“The Food We Eat, Isn’t The Food We Ate”.
Essentially what that means is that with the world wide degradation of soils due to poor farming practices, the food we eat today is not as nutrient dense and vitamin rich as the food our grandparents and great grandparents used to eat.  As an example, one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.  For more information, read the Article Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

So whilst I am not advocating heading to your local pharmacy (or heaven forbid, a supermarket) and diving wholesale into a bunch of vitamins and supplements. What I am saying is that under the guidance of your chosen health professional, supplements can be useful in ensuring your body gets exactly what it needs every day or just to give you that extra bit of support until your body gets the energy and vitality to run optimally on it’s own.

 So if you haven’t worked it out by now, there are so many ways you can be proactive and take control of your Health. So much more you can do than just buy a ticket in the Private Health Cover Lottery and hope for the best.

Sure it does cost a bit extra. But let me put it simply.

You can spend a bit more on your Health now, be in control of which options are available to choose from, which practitioners or professionals you see and how often

Or

You can wait until you’ve developed a chronic disease or illness, spend 10 or 20 times more than you would have, struggle with pain or just to get through the day, hope there’s a hospital bed available and a Health System capable of looking after you.

And the best part? YOU Get To Choose!

Choose Wisely.

Are You Smiling?

With the colder weather almost upon us, it’s really easy to fall into the “Doom and Gloom” trap and let our moods and emotions mirror the weather outside so we’re going to take a look at how to put a little sunshine back into our days.

Did you know that most of us have a larger vocabulary of negative emotions than positive ones? Do you find it easy to describe how you’re feeling if you’re in a bad mood or feeling down? Do you find it challenging to describe how you are feeling when you are “up” or happy?

Did you know that the things we tell ourselves about how we are feeling have a great impact on how we actually feel?

Here’s my take on the Top 10 and how to get a little more of them into your day.

But first, let’s run a quick experiment:

  • Spend 5 minutes maximum writing down all of the emotions you can think of
  • Check your list – did you get more negative ones than positive ones?
  • Read out loud all of the negative emotions and note how you feel – did you feel a little low?
  • Now read out loud all of the positive emotions and note how you feel – did you feel a little uplifted?
  • Now, just for fun, repeat all of the negative emotions again but do it with a smile on your face – did you find it difficult?
  • Try repeating all of the positive emotions without the smile – did you notice that you really had to think about it?

Hopefully, in doing the above experiment, you’ve experienced how easily your moods and emotions can be influenced by what you say to yourself. So let’s now take a look at the Top 10 Emotions to create a more positive outlook – and a little sunshine – in your day.

Gratitude
Gratitude is about focusing on all the good things we have in our lives rather than the things we may be lacking. Whether it’s hot running water and electricity to warm us on these cold mornings, the love of your family and friends or the kindness of a stranger who let you move ahead of them at the supermarket checkout, focusing on the things you are grateful for each day is a step towards achieving a more positive outlook.

Many self-help books and motivational texts suggest keeping a daily gratitude journal to record the things and experiences we are most grateful for and want to attract more of in our lives.

Hope
Hope is about focusing on the possibilities in our lives – the belief that things will change and improve. Hope is a motivator and catalyst for change whether it’s our mood, attitude or something physical in our lives. In order to experience hope, many people need to be uncomfortable in their present circumstances but you can still experience hope by focusing on solutions rather than problems.

Joy
As adults, how often do we say we are “Joyous” or experiencing “Joy”? If you’re not sure what joy is, watch a toddler open presents (and play with the wrapping paper) or play with a new toy. Children have a way of focusing on the playfulness or fun of the moment. Joy is about letting go and allowing the fullness of your energy and positive emotion to erupt from within. It’s the stupid big cheesy grin that makes your cheeks hurt. Joy doesn’t care who’s watching or what they may think, it’s spontaneous and uplifting.  Think back to when you last experienced joy, what happened, who was there, how did you feel? Having photos or mementos around you of joyous occasions or experiences are a great way to invite more joy into your life.

Serenity
Serenity is peaceful, calm, tranquil and quiet. A feeling of wholeness and that “all is right with the world”. Finding serenity is challenging for many in today’s busy lifestyle. For me, serenity shows up during a warm-down following a run on a cold evening – yes, most often during winter. The air is still and cold but I am warm and somewhat tired from my efforts. All feels right with the world, I don’t need to rush, my problems seem less important at the moment and I am content to enjoy the fresh night air. Meditation is another way in which many people experience serenity. It doesn’t have to be a class or a period of prolonged sitting, simply taking a walk with deliberate intent to slow down, noticing what you see, hear and feel along the way and breathing deeply help achieve a meditative state.

Interest
Interest, or curiosity, drives us to learn and experience new things. Finding a new hobby, trying a new sport or physical activity, reading a different type of book or magazine – all of these new experiences can improve your sense of wellness and generate positive emotions.

Pride
Pride, tempered with appropriate humility, is a positive mood generator and intrinsic step in completing any goal. Being proud of and celebrating your achievements is often the most important, and often forgotten, step in achieving the goal. If we do not stop to celebrate or reflect upon our efforts, what is the purpose or motivation for striving to achieve our goals?

Amusement
It goes without saying that having a laugh makes you feel good. Whether it’s watching a movie, listening to a story, reading a book or hanging out with friends, the act of laughing most often causes you to smile, relaxes the body and releases “feel-good” endorphins into the blood stream. Although group environments commonly encourage laughter – one person starts and it quickly becomes contagious – you don’t need to be with others to have a good laugh. Choosing not to take yourself so seriously and finding amusement in some of the silly things that we all do in our daily lives can be a cause of amusement….and with no-one else around, feel free to Laugh Out Loud!

Inspiration
Inspiration is most often uplifting and comes in many forms. Whether it’s looking at a sunset, a painting, a performance, a motivational fridge magnet, or hearing about a person who has achieved a goal despite adversity, inspiration often motivates us to act or change in some way. It can be a trigger to reflect on our own lives and helps us to see, hear and feel things differently. It may be that it takes our breath away, leads us to make a choice, or take action on something we’ve been procrastinating about.  It’s hard to be inspired and in a bad mood so find something to inspire you each day.

Awe
Awe shows up when we stop to appreciate just how big, grand or amazing something can be. Awe can be spine-tingling or a “goose-bumps” experience or simply a time when we go “WOW!”.  We are most often in awe of a vast landscape, travelling through space, a physical or sporting achievement that outshines the realm of our possibilities or expectations. But awe can be found in everyday things, we’re just too busy in our daily lives to stop and appreciate the natural beauty of our surroundings and the people we interact with day to day.

Love
Love is the most powerful, frequent and sought-after positive emotion. There are many types of Love and it comes in many forms – romantic love, love of family and friends, love of nature, the outdoors, specific activities. With Love we experience many of the other 9 emotions listed above. Love is a great motivator, is inspirational, joyful, hopeful, and allows us to experience gratitude, peace and serenity.  So how do we get more love into our day? Focusing on our strengths and the value that we can, and do, add to the lives of others helps us invite more love into our lives. Of course, we all have weaknesses too and personal growth is about working on our strengths as well as our weaknesses – but our weaknesses don’t often leave us feeling good and this month is all about feeling good! Also focusing on the strengths of others and the value that they bring to our lives helps us appreciate and experience love towards those closest to us.

Finally
My challenge to you is to review each of the 10 Positive Emotions and each day for 10 consecutive days, focus on just one of them, looking for how you can bring more of that emotion into your day.

Struggling for Motivation?

Over the years I’ve chatted to hundreds of people in gyms – whether they’ve joined the gym and I’m taking them through an induction process or they’re training with me.

And it’s so encouraging to see that most of them are 9/10 or 10/10 committed to getting their result when they start.

But a month or two down the track, why is it that 9/10 or 10/10 becomes  4/10 or 5/10 or worse?

What is it that results in these highly motivated, capable people suddenly losing all interest in what initially was a 9/10 or 10/10 goal?

Could it be that their initial motivation was flawed?

Of the many books that have been written about motivation and inspiration, a common thread seems to appear.  “People will do more to run away from pain than they will to run towards pleasure”  and yet, at the same time, they also postulate that “Moving away from (running away from pain) motivation is not very effective long term”.  For the record, “Moving towards” motivation has proven to be more effective in the long term.

So what does that really mean?

If your motivation for working out or creating a healthier lifestyle is a result of you wanting to lose weight then effectively you’re running away from the pain of the extra weight. And let’s face it, if you have experience as a yo-yo dieter or you’ve lost a lot of weight and then put it back on again, you may already be familiar with the fact that this sort of moving away from motivation doesn’t last.

Or perhaps you’ve experienced pain in the past. Back pain is one of the most common ailments of our mostly sedentary society today. So you join the gym to get out of pain (moving away motivation), you work hard on strengthening your body and once the pain has gone, the urgency subsides and work, family or something else gets in the way and you find yourself skipping a session or 2, then a week or 2 and before you know it, you’re no longer being active at all. Over time, without maintaining that new found strength, muscle development and posture, the back pain rears its head once again.

So what if you could find a motivation that works long term? What if you could find a moving towards motivation to get you moving, keep you moving and motivated to reach your goals?

You know it’s often said that the greatest motivator of all is “Love”.  Assuming that’s true, how can you get “Love” to motivate you to move every day, to get to be earlier, to drink more water?  In fact, how do you get “Love” to motivate you to do anything?

Let me share the light bulb moment I had when reading my current book of choice, and why I’m sharing this with you.

In the book  “Money:  A Love Story” by Kate Northrup, Kate implies that living within your means is a form of Self-Love.  Rather than stressing yourself out and having to deal with constant levels of anxiety by over-extending yourself financially, choosing instead to only spend the money that you have is a form of Self-Love.

Now I get it that sometimes it’s not as simple as only spending what’s in your purse or wallet but this is not a financial blog so I’m not going to get into that discussion here.

My light bulb moment came when I realized that when faced with doing something good for myself or my body that I don’t want to do, or that I struggle to do, if I think of it as an act of Self-Love, for me, that feels good and I’m more motivated to do it.

Let me give you an example. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my biggest personal challenges has been getting to bed at an appropriate hour on a regular basis. So I took the concept of Self-Love and rather than try to understand why I just couldn’t get myself to bed earlier, I decided that getting to bed between  10 and 1030 pm was an act of Self-Love,  doing something good for my mind and my body by getting more sleep before midnight, and so far I’m doing so much better.

Self-Love is a moving towards motivation.  So what does this mean for your Health?

Motivation is all a matter of how you look at things. If you can find your way to a bit more Self-Love, wrap your head around the fact that moving your body every day, making healthy food choices, getting more sleep before midnight and drinking more water are all forms of Self-Love, then maybe you’ve found the Motivation that will sustain you long term.

And who couldn’t do with a bit more Self-Love anyway?