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.

The Missing Link to Health and Wellness

The importance of sleep and sleep hygiene.
Did you know that getting 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep a night is an important factor in weight management and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? In some circles sleep is considered to be a major factor in keeping us young and vibrant.
Good quality sleep is important to us because it is during this time of rest and recuperation that our bodies and brains recuperate from the day’s activities, both mental and physical. And this is where most people go wrong when they jump into a new Health and Fitness regime.
In an ideal world, we’d all be in bed by 10 to 10:30pm and up at 6 to 6:30am. Throughout the night, your body undergoes mostly physical repair between 10pm and 2:00am and then focus moves to mental or psychological repair between 2:00am and 6:00am or until we awaken. So if you don’t get to bed until midnight and wake up around 6 during the week, it’s no wonder come the weekend you feel exhausted and just want to crash on the couch and catch up on that 10 hours of lost sleep!
Similarly, if you’re regularly up during the middle of the night tending to children or stressing about work, no wonder you find it hard to concentrate and focus on your daily activities.
So if you’ve been feeling a bit sleep-deprived of late, we have some tips on improving your sleep hygiene and getting a good night’s sleep.
So what is Sleep Hygiene? “Sleep Hygiene” refers to the habits that determine whether you to have a good night’s sleep – or not! Common sleeping problems can often be attributed to bad habits that have been reinforced over years or even decades. If this sounds like you, fear not, you can dramatically improve your sleep hygiene and quality by making just a few minor adjustments to lifestyle and attitude.
Tips for “Good Quality” Sleep
Now that we know what happens during sleep, how do we get it?
Establish a Sleep Routine
• Ensure regular sleep patterns by going to bed at the same time each evening and get up at the same time every day – even on the weekend. This helps to train your body when to sleep
• If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t force it. The harder you try, the more awake – and anxious – you’ll become. Get up and read a book or magazine for a short time – or my personal tip, try a hot milk with a little honey (optional) and a few minutes of reading
Learn how to relax
• Stress is a major cause of insomnia so find a relaxation technique that works for you
• Try relaxation or meditation exercises. You could consciously relax every part
of your body, starting with your toes and working up to your scalp. Or you could think of a restful scene, concentrate on the rhythmic rise and fall of your breathing, or focus on a mantra (repeating a word or phrase constantly)
• Take a warm bath before heading to bed
• If you are a chronic bedtime worrier, try scheduling a half hour of ‘worry time’ well before bed. Once you retire, remind yourself that you’ve already done your worrying for the day
Improve your sleeping environment.
Good sleep is more likely if your bedroom feels restful and comfortable
• Make it dark, quiet and comfortable (including the temperature)
• Hide the clocks in your bedroom to avoid checking the time obsessively
in the middle of the night
• Make sure your mattress is giving you the right support and comfort you need. Many mattresses become saggy after five to seven years
• If you can’t control noise (such as barking dogs or loud neighbours), buy a pair of earplugs
• Only use your bedroom for sleeping and intimate activities. If you treat your
bed like a second lounge room – for watching television or talking to friends on the phone, for example – your mind will associate your bedroom with activity
Avoid Caffeine and Drugs
• Avoid caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, cola, chocolate) close to bedtime. Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours so a standard 300mg of coffee at 3pm means that at 9pm there’s still 150mg of caffeine in your blood stream. Another six hours later, in the middle of psychological repair, there’s still 75mg of caffeine floating around in your system, stimulating cortisol release (a waking up hormone)
• Limit alcohol just before bed time. Alcohol slows the workings of the nervous system. Drinking before bed may help you doze off initially but it also disturbs the rhythm of sleep patterns, you won’t feel refreshed in the morning
• Avoid cigarettes before bed. Many smokers claim that cigarettes help them relax, yet nicotine is a stimulant. The side effects include an accelerated heart rate and increased blood pressure and are likely to keep you awake for longer
• Avoid sleeping pills and drugs. They don’t address the cause of the sleeping problem. Side effects can include daytime sleepiness and the ‘rebound’ effect – after a stint of using sleeping pills, falling asleep without them tends to be even harder. These drugs should only be used as a temporary last resort and under medical advice
General suggestions:
• Resist the temptation to nap during the day
• Get enough sunshine. Exposure to light during waking hours (especially morning sunlight) helps to reset your body clock
• Exercise every day, even if just a short walk, but not close to bedtime and try not to overheat yourself – your body needs time to wind down
• Try not to engage in mentally stimulating activities close to bedtime. Use the last hour or so before sleep to relax your mind
• Breathing through your nose, rather than through your mouth, this improves respiratory function and hormone balance contributing to more refreshing sleep
• Exercise is a great tool to improve sleep
• Afternoon exercise should ideally be approximately 3-4 hours before going to bed and at roughly the same time every day
• It could be in the form of aerobic exercise (e.g. walking, running, swimming, etc.), a gym workout or stretch and flexibility exercises
• The amount of time spent exercising is an individual thing. If you’re not already exercising, try 30 minutes/day and if this provides limited success, try 45 minutes/day or 60 minutes

Whether it’s a challenge to get to sleep, stay asleep or a challenge to get out of bed in the morning, poor sleep hygiene can contribute to the quality and quantity of your sleep and ultimately how you feel throughout the day so test out our tips for a restful night’s sleep.

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?

What’s Your Energy Personality?

Are you an early riser, late riser or somewhere in between? Do you go to bed early or do you prefer to burn the midnight oil? Are you most alert and productive mid-morning but experience a mid-afternoon crash? Do you jump out of bed as soon as the alarm sounds and hit the ground running – literally. Or do you hit the snooze alarm once, twice or more preferring to exercise later in the day?

According to Andrew May’s “Flip the Switch”* research shows that your productivity and performance can be affected by up to 15% depending on the time of day. Knowing your energy personality and tailoring your day, and your training, to match your energy highs and lows can help you setup your day for optimal performance and a more enjoyable workout.

So What’s Your Energy Personality?
Complete Andrew’s Quick Quiz below to find out:
Choose the most appropriate answer
1. Do you sleep in if you forget to set the alarm clock on weekdays?
A                 B                              C
Yes     Sometimes              No

2. Are you bubbly and chatty when you arrive at work in the morning?
A                 B                              C
Yes     Sometimes              No

3. Do you do your best work in the afternoon through to early evening?
A                 B                              C
Yes      Sometimes              No

4. If you could choose your ideal working hours, what would they be?
A   12pm – 8am
B   9am – 5pm
C   6am – 2pm

5. When you go to a party are you:
A   Usually the last to leave?
B   OK as long as you get to bed within 3 hours of normal sleep time
C   Agitated and tired if you don’t leave before your usual bedtime?

Tally your answers for A, B and C and refer to the table below for your energy personality
Mostly A’s      Mostly B’s        Mostly C’s
BEAR               TIGER                GAZELLE

Bears are “Night Owls” and function at their best during the afternoon or evening.Bear
If you have a 9 to 5 job, it’s a good idea to arrange your day so that your thinking tasks are actioned later in the day and simpler tasks requiring less brain power, eg filing and email are scheduled during the morning. Bears often find that they exercise best during lunchtime or later in the day when their energy levels are higher.
Tips for Bears
• Sleep with your curtains open and let the sun wake you up
• Get up at the same time every day and eat breakfast – bears have a tendency to skip breakfast which is vital to optimal brain performance and weight management
• Don’t stay up late on weekends or start a new project or ‘thinking’ tasks right before going to bed

Gazelles are “Morning people” and tend to spring out of bed and hit the ground running. Gazelle
They don’t need an alarm clock and are usually quite bubbly when they get to the office. Having already completed their workout for the day, they’re switched on and ready to go! If you’re a Gazelle, you’ll tend to peak around midday and notice a lack of concentration by late afternoon. Unlike the bear, Gazelles should plan their day so that tasks requiring creativity and high-level thinking are scheduled for the morning and simpler, more routine tasks for the afternoon. Generally, Gazelles have no problem training first thing in the morning.
Tips for Gazelles
• Exercise in the morning or before 6pm so that you are rested and ready for bed early
• Spend some time outdoors in the afternoon to boost your energy for the later part of the day
• Avoid shift work
• Don’t exercise within 4 hours of your usual bedtime

Tigers make up 55 to 60% of the population and usually get going around 7am with peak concentration between mid-morning and lunchtime.Tiger
Tigers usually experience a mid-afternoon slump and get their second wind later in the afternoon. Tigers are able to switch more easily between Bear and Gazelle energy levels and are usually comfortable exercising anytime of the day. Tigers usually have no problem mixing up their exercise regime with both morning and afternoon/evening sessions.
Tips for Tigers
• For Tigers needing to be at their best first thing in the morning, follow the tips for the Gazelle
• For Tigers needing to be at their best in the evening, follow the tips for the Bear.

Whether you’re a Bear, Gazelle or Tiger, the key to optimal performance both at work and play is to find what works best for you and make it a regular part of your day. Test out Andrew’s tips above and see just how much more enjoyable your workouts can become when tailored to suit your Energy Personality.

* For more information on improving your performance and productivity both at work and at play, I highly recommend “Flip the Switch” by Andrew May, Messenger Publishing, Copyright 2007

If People Treated Sleeping Like Working Out

Often one of the most neglected aspects of being Healthy these days is getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night.

It’s one of the most common conversations I have with clients and for many, one of the most challenging aspects of creating a Healthy Sustainable Lifestyle.

What’s the point of eating right and moving if you never give your body time to recover from the day’s activities? Without adequate sleep every night, you end up starting each day behind the eight-ball and over time, your level of energy and vitality diminishes to the point that dragging yourself out of bed every morning, stumbling half awake through the day and falling into bed exhausted each night is what you call ‘normal’.

And then of course thTiredere’s the effect upon your waistline. Without adequate rest, your body starts to store extra resources (energy) so that it can keep up with the relentless activities that you call life and you wonder why you’re not seeing a lot of improvement from your gym workouts.

Of more concern is many people wear their lack of sleep and ability to soldier on regardless as a badge of honour. Water cooler conversations abound with tales of late nights and early mornings in an attempt to gain bragging rights in a similar manner to the gym junkies talking about their tough workouts.

So as the year draws to a close and thoughts turn to taking some well-earned rest and relaxation, reflecting upon the year that was and the year to come, what if you started approaching your need for sleep with the same enthusiasm and importance as you approach your workouts?

Check out this short fun video and just imagine what would happen  If People Treated Sleeping Like Working Out?