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.

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?

Too Sore to Train?

Too Sore to Train? Injured and just itching to get back into exercise?
Or are you suffering in the middle of another heat wave and have no energy to train?

Why not hit the Water for a Low Impact Workout
Deep Water Running and Water Based Exercise are great alternatives when sore knees, sore muscles or joints or an injury prevent you from enjoying your usual weight-bearing physical activities.
Many sports require some form of running and whether it’s walking or running, don’t let your knees, an injury or the weather dictate whether you keep physically active or not. If you haven’t been active for some time or you are concerned about excessive weight bearing activities, Deep Water Running and Water Based Exercise are great ways to get active, maintain your fitness or rebuild your strength and flexibility following injury.

Exercising in Water?

 Water decreases stress on the joints, allows greater range of movement and can ease muscle soreness and improve joint flexibility by allowing you to exercise without the impact shock from exercising on hard surfaces.
If you exercise in a heated pool, the warm water provides additional benefits by increasing body temperature and circulation and the soothing and relaxing nature of water can also help to dispel the stresses of a busy lifestyle.

Swimming isn’t the only option
Swimming and Aqua Aerobics (Water-based Exercise) Classes are the most well-known water-based activities allowing you to work much harder than you might otherwise have worked on land. Whilst swimming is a great way to build and maintain fitness, it doesn’t appeal to those who like to keep their head above water or struggle to establish correct breathing techniques.
Aqua Aerobics is another great non-impact workout. Encouraged by music, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest songs or steady beat and forget that you’re actually getting a great workout at the same time. Using a buoyancy belt of flotation device, your core is also working overtime to keep you upright.

Running in Water?
Whilst swimming and aqua aerobics are great ways to build and maintain fitness, Deep Water Running is, according to some, rated second only to Cross Country Skiing when it comes to total calories burned during a workout. Deep Water Running provides excellent cardiovascular and strength training benefits. Most commonly done with a buoyancy belt around your waist, the water forces opposing muscles to work equally against the resistance provided by the water.
A buoyancy belt is most often made from foam and looks like a belt that you strap around your waist. Some brands, like the AquaJogger® are made to fit different weight specifications and body types but almost any flotation vest or wetsuit will work as long as it allows your body to float in an upright position and you can perform a running motion in the water. An added benefit of running in water and using the buoyancy belt is that it also works your core as your body fights to remain upright and balanced against the flotation device’s natural tendency to rise to the surface.
When running in water, try to keep to your natural running technique and avoid the tendency to want to “cycle” the legs or tread water. Ensure your shoulders are sitting just above the water and your feet don’t touch the bottom. Although some do attempt deep water running in sea water, this provides the added challenge of keeping upright whilst navigating the unpredictability of the waves. Dive pools are excellent due to the extreme depth of the water but any pool where your feet don’t touch the bottom will work.
Whilst initially it does take some practise to establish your balance and technique, Deep Water Running can benefit athletes and non-athletes alike for weight loss, cross training, injury rehabilitation and prevention and relief of muscle and joint soreness.

So if it’s too hot or too wet outside, your muscles or joints ache, you’re recovering from an injury or prefer a non-weight bearing approach to improving your fitness then head to your nearest pool and run, swim or walk a few laps.

Are You Setup For Success?

Continuing our theme of New Year’s Promises to Ourselves, this week we take a look at key strategies for starting a new Health & Fitness Program, or ensuring you achieve continued success with your existing program.
When embarking on a new Health and Fitness Regime you want to ensure you give yourself every opportunity to succeed so check out our “Must Do’s” to ensure you set yourself up for success.

Make it a Lifestyle Change (not a Project)
As a former IT worker I know very well the definition of a Project – it has a start date and an end date.
And that’s the problem with the goals, new year’s resolutions, new diets, new fitness regimes that many people set. They treat it as a project. They plan to start – on New Year’s Day or the most common one – on Monday. And they plan to do it for a while, not forever, just until they lose the weight, get into that pair of pants they love so much, can run around the block or walk up the stairs without getting puffed out. And that is why most people fail!
Here’s the tough love part……Improving your health and wellbeing is about making choices that result in long term, sustainable changes to habits, eating and thinking patterns, physical activity, rest and relaxation activities. This is often why gradual weight loss programs of 1 to 2kg per week achieve more successful long term outcomes than the quick fix detox, crash diets or extreme procedures.
How often have you set a goal to lose weight or reduce stress and then worked on your “project” for a set period of time, achieved your goal, only to revert to the same habits and lifestyle you had before your “project” began?
To give yourself the best chance of success, make sure you’re treating your new Health and Fitness Program as a Lifestyle Change, not a Project with a definite start and end date.

Pace yourself
Whether it’s a new fitness program or healthy eating, when you’re getting started, it’s extremely important to make your changes gradually. There’s no point heading out for a 10km run for your first training session if it means you can’t run again for a couple of weeks due to soreness. The best approach is to set yourself some easy targets for your first few sessions to ensure you get through them well and stay motivated before gradually increasing the intensity or number of sessions. Similarly, going “cold turkey” can be very challenging when adjusting your eating habits. Ease your way into long term change by replacing a few food items each week with healthier choices until they become your preferred food choices. A great rule of thumb to follow is the Rule of 3 – only changing a maximum of 3 things at any one time for a month. Once these new habits are part of your lifestyle, choose 3 more things to change the next month.

Don’t make it about a Number on the ScalesNot Losing Weight
Let’s face it, for most of us, being fitter and healthier also means weight loss. How often have you worked out diligently for a week or two and eaten well only to hop on the scales and beat yourself up because the number displayed is not what you want it to be? Health and Fitness is not a number on the bathroom scales. Sure if weight loss is your goal you generally want the numbers to be heading in a downward direction but it’s much better to determine your progress based on how you feel and how your clothes might be feeling on your body than just a number on the scales. Your weight can fluctuate by 1 to 2kg throughout any given day depending upon the amount of water you’ve drunk, the amount of sleep you’ve had, the amount of exercise you did today or yesterday and hormonal fluctuations to name just a few. If you’re lifting weights and doing resistance training you may not see much movement in the numbers initially, even though you may be burning fat, building muscle and increasing your metabolism. Whilst it is a good idea to keep an eye on the scales every now and then, if you’re weighing yourself more than once a week, you’re probably just setting yourself up for another opportunity to beat yourself up on a regular basis.

The Rest is as important as the Rep
This is a favourite of mine. Yes, I guess it’s because I have a background in sprinting but never the less, it is so true for any form of exercise if you really want to see benefits.
For those of you unfamiliar with running or resistance training, essentially this means that the rest period you take between each training repetition (rep), set at the gym or lap at the pool, is just as important as actually running the distance, lifting the weights or swimming the laps. The same analogy applies to any physical activity. Your body needs time to rest, recover, and replenish depleted energy stores in preparation for the next effort. Although you might feel like you can keep going, if you start the next rep (set or lap) too soon, and your body hasn’t recovered adequately, you risk injury or a sub-standard result for your effort. This also applies to the rest periods between your training sessions. If you are too sore or tired from your previous session, especially if you’re just getting started, it’s best to take an extra day of rest to allow your body to fully recover to reduce the risk of injury or over-training.

Drink more water
Yes, here it is again because it’s soooo important! When you exercise your body loses water through sweat so you need to ensure you keep your body hydrated during your workout. Always keep a water bottle close by so you can take regular drink breaks, even if only a few sips at a time. If this is not possible with your chosen activity, ensure you have plenty of water available to drink as soon as you finish. As a general rule, for every hour of high intensity exercise, you should drink an extra litre of water. In the warmer weather it’s even more important to hydrate the body well before any form of exercise. If you have a big competition or activity coming up or we’re in the middle of another heat wave, always ensure you hydrate fully the day before the activity so you have plenty of water on board, actually in your cells, ready for activity. Waiting until the morning of the activity to start topping up your water is just too late – chances are all that extra water will just sit in your stomach or your body will just flush it out rather than use it to hydrate your cells.

Track your progress
A great way to keep you on track towards your goals is to track your progress…and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by recording the number of days each week that you exercise and if you want more details, then progress to tracking the number of reps or laps, the time taken to complete each one, or the amount of weight you can lift. Whatever your activity, get creative about the things you can track to show your improvement so that when you’re feeling a bit unmotivated, and it happens to all of us, you can look back through your records and see just how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved so far.

Variety is Key
Whilst it’s great to set-up a regular exercise routine as quickly as possible it’s also just as important to have some variety in your activities to ensure you maintain your momentum. Rather than doing the same activity day-in day-out for a whole week, mix things up a bit with some alternate activities. If cardiovascular (cardio) activities are your chosen activity, ensure you throw in a couple of resistance (weight) training activities, non-weight bearing or gentler activities such as swimming or yoga. And always have a couple of rest days each week. It’s also important to have variety in the foods you eat. The quickest way to lose interest and momentum in your new lifestyle is to eat the same foods day-in day-out, week after week. Make sure you mix up your sources of protein and choose a range of different fruits and vegetables throughout the day and during the week. A great way to do this is to choose fruits and vegetables in season. Generally, these will be a bit cheaper or ask at your local fruit and veg store for in-season fruits and vegetables.
Good Health is about doing the right things on a consistent basis. Reality tells us that this can be challenging 100% of the time so aim to do the right things 80% of the time which means it’s ok to reward or treat yourself every now and then to help keep you on track.