June 12, 2017
For the month of June we’re talking all things testing and taking stock of where we are halfway through 2017. For this weeks body blog, we’re looking at the best ways to test our fitness and our lifestyle!
This isn’t a physical test where we’re going to see how fast you can run 100m or how many burpees you can do in 3 minutes (although they are fun tests!). This test is looking at current behaviours. There are two main elements to this test and each one gives certain points.
Part A: Number of days exercised per week.
This first element has you count the number of days you exercise a week that is OVER 20 minutes in a session. That can include walking and any other form of exercise that has you moving. While we encourage movement throughout the day as every minute counts, for this assessment we are looking for exercise that is over 20 minutes in duration. For each day that you meet this requirement, give yourself 1 point.
Part B: Intensity of each exercise session.
Research has shown us that intensity is important for not only boosting cardiovascular fitness, but you also get the benefits of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) which means that even after you stopped training the body is burning calories. HIIT (high intensity interval training) also means that you don’t have to train as long; doing a 20-minute HIIT session burns just as much, if not more calories, than a 1-hour consistent run.
Intensity is classified into low, moderate and vigorous. Vigorous training is where your heart rate is 80% of your MHR (max heart rate is 220 – your age). Any workouts that meet this vigorous training requirement gain double points, so give yourself 2 points for each exercise session that is over 20 minutes and hits your 80% MHR.
Current Lifestyle Test
We have become as humans one of the most sedentary creatures, as our jobs often require us to be sitting for countless hours during the day. Many studies have now claimed that “sitting is the new smoking”, with the effects of being stationary likened to those that come from smoking – a rather scary thought!
This lifestyle tests looks to classify your lifestyle as:
Sedentary: you spend most of your day sitting (i.e. at a desk), with 1 hour or less of exercise.
Somewhat active: you spend most of your day sitting, but complete low intensity or moderate intensity exercise at least 1-2 hours a day.
Moderately active: you integrate movement throughout your whole day. You meet the 10,000 step requirement on top of 1-2 hours of moderate exercise
Very active: you are rarely sitting throughout the day and meet the 10,000 step requirement plus at least 1 hour of vigorous exercise.
Doing an hour of exercise before or after work has been found to no longer offset the downsides of sitting. We need to integrate movement throughout the day in order to really combat the effects of our sedentary lifestyle.
This one isn’t really a “test”, but rather a time for you to establish what your biggest motivator is to exercise. It’s different for everyone, and finding an underlying value, rather than just an aesthetic reason, can be the difference between sticking to a regular exercise regime and giving up after the first week. Write down some words that you associate with exercise and try to determine what your driver is. For some, it’s to maintain good health indicators (i.e. blood pressure, waist measurement, weight), whereas for others it’s to boost endorphins and mood. Everyone is unique!
Equally, we all have barriers to exercise. Time, lack of energy, money, resources. They all come up as reasons why we can’t exercise. Listing out your barriers can help to not only identify them, but also to help overcome them. If time is a barrier, schedule in small bouts of exercise throughout your day e.g. a 20 minute walk at lunchtime, a 20 minute walk home from work by getting off a few stops early, or maybe a 20 minute HIIT workout before heading into the office.
Solution: Create New Habits
Willpower is like a bank balance; if you withdraw from it, to get ahead you have to put back in twofold. Habits take the need for willpower out of the equation, as they are things that we perform mindlessly.
Habits make up at least 40% of our day, so it is the creation of healthy habits that can help us to achieve our goals. In order to do this, we need to identify the most motivated time of our week i.e. Sunday morning’s before the week starts, or a Friday night after a crazy week. It is in this time that you can schedule in your diary – like an important appointment – the new habit that you wish to create (or ones that you would like to continue). For example, on Sundays you may sit down with your calendar, your local gym’s timetable, and your friend’s schedule, and carve out your exercise sessions for the week.
The benefit here is that you are mindfully creating a habit that when willpower is waning, it can be performed mindlessly. When it comes time to do the exercise, it’s not a question of “do I want to train today”; it’s a statement of fact of “it’s time to exercise now”. This simple switch in psychology can make a huge difference to upholding your new habits.
To wrap up the month of May we have Dr Peter Romero giving us the insights on all things health, turning vegan, and alternative medicine. It’s very interesting to hear from a doctor who is very progressive and and open to preventative and holistic health. We wish all doctors could think this way! In any case, let’s jump straight into this interview and hear about how the Western Medicine side are thinking.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you decided to get into medicine?
I was born in Coffs Harbour in 1958 and lived on a small farm in Bonville growing up. I attended a local 3 teacher primary school and then public high school. I had appendicitis aged11 and that and a wish to do something to help others and have an interesting job made me decide to be a doctor at age 12. I started medicine before my 18th birthday and graduated from Sydney University before my 23 birthday. I spent 4 years residency at Westmead Hospital where I decided that rural general practice was what I wanted to do. I am now in my 32nd year of private practice in Nelson Bay.
Western Medicine has obviously come a long way in accepting the more alternative and Eastern forms of medicine, but where do you think the future of Western Medicine will go?
That may be an assumption from talking to me. I am not sure that it has become all that more accepting overall. Western medicine on the face of it tries to adopt the “Scientific Approach” for treatment. Unfortunately it is all about the treatment of disease and not about health promotion. In general we treat a society that believes that we can cure a lot more than we can, and believes there must be a pill for everything. For example, many smokers with emphysema can’t believe there is no cure.
Yes it seems the difference between Western and Eastern medicine is treating symptoms versus finding the cause respectively! There’s definitely room to grow in Western medicine for looking to be more preventative rather than reactive.
Do you think there’s a place for doctors to be suggesting these more alternative methods of healing to patients such as certain dietary changes or mindfulness and meditation exercises to help with anxiety and depression?
YES. 70% of the disease we treat is caused by lifestyle. Poor diet ( despite everyone believing the contrary), lack of exercise, being overweight (2/3 of the population), plus stress, poor rest and sleep, are all lifestyle factors contributing to 70% of diseases. Most people do not realize that diet, lack of exercise and stress are responsible for much of the depression and anxiety that we experience. Type 2 Diabetes and Ischaemic Heart Disease are increasing exponentially and are totally preventable with lifestyle changes. We can be doing this work as doctors to work to heal this rather than just give another pill.
70% is such a big number! It almost seems like we’re trying to make ourselves sick with all those areas you mentioned! What relationship do you see doctors having with holistic health coaches in the future? I.e. is it congruous and work in unison or is it more at odds with each other?
Many fail to appreciate there is a continuum from optimal health through to only fair health before the onset of disease. I am frustrated that so many settle for mediocre instead of aiming for abundant health. Many wait for a crisis before valuing their health. Society needs re-education. Doctors can help but so few listen from my experience. I am hoping for more prevention. I value holistic health coaches but too few in society do. Doctors will go on treating disease much of which could have been prevented. Health coaches can provide information and motivation in that preventive health sphere.
It’s definitely something that I think many health coaches can relate to in that frustration of settling for mediocre health. That’s a great way to put the relationship between doctors and health coaches – one of complimenting each other but there is a long way to go before Western medicine as a whole accepts the role that health coaches play! They’re not all as forward thinking and prevention focused as you.
We understand that you’re a vegan going on almost four years now? What made you decide to make that change and what differences have you seen in your health from it?
Prior to switching to an almost completely “Plants as grown” diet almost 4 years ago I was semi- vegetarian (remember that beer and chips is vegan but not healthy!). I then read “The China Study” and watched the DVD “Forks over Knives” and then became involved in the CHIP- Complete Health Improvement Program. I lost 5 kg without limiting food volume and got a whole lot more energy and felt younger with less aches and pains.
There is so much information out there now on what the benefits are of cutting out animal protein and you just listed some great sources there. It’s all well and good to read something or watch a documentary on WHY we should do it, but it’s HOW to make the switch that often trips people up. What would be your top tips for someone trying to start a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? How do you make the change sustainably?
There are 2 ways; see which works for you. The easiest seems to be “Double the Good and Halve the Bad” and just keep taking steps in the right direction. The other is just “Jump in the Deep End”. Although this seems more radical it takes 21 days for our taste buds to change. Get a coach or attend a program. Involve a friend, keep a diary. Involve exercise and meditation at the same time so you are making changes on the whole rather than just your diet.
Ok so finally, what is your most important advice to your patients who are looking to improve their overall health?
Lots of fruit and vegetables; 5 serves may not be enough.
Move; the more the better. Find something you can enjoy.
Sorry that’s 2 but they are both so important!
For the month of May we’re looking at milestones and personal growth. One of the ways that research shows us we can achieve this is through the completion of something – i.e. being able to tick it off the list – so for this week’s Body blog we’re talking about completing a running race.
There are many races in the calendar year that may take your fancy whether you’re a beginner or more advanced. There are 5km fun walk/runs, the 9km Bridge run, the 14km City to Surf, the Great Ocean Road half marathon, a full marathon, and the 100km Oxfam Trail walk. You can’t say there aren’t options!
Completing any one of these races carries with it a sense of self-achievement, pride and honesty to yourself. Your head can really get the better of you, especially in the longer races, so it’s a great way to get in touch with what you’re trying to achieve and conquer that inner critic.
So here are the top reasons that other people have told us they LIKE competing in races.
1. Motivation for your training. We all tend to fall in the trap of a motivational slump, particularly at this time of year as the mornings are darker and the weather is colder! Registering for a race and committing to it is a great way to pull you out of it and inject new energy into your potentially stale workout. Training for a race doesn’t have to be just all running either. In fact, it SHOULDN’T be. You should be including agility training, strength training along with endurance training to mix up your workout and prepare your body.
PRACTICAL: Write down a realistic race that you want to compete in for 2017.
2. Personal growth. Nothing beats the thrill of crossing the line on your first, fifth or one-hundredth race. Not only will you overcome the physical obstacles, but the mental ones as well. A race, big or small, is more often than not a mental battle to overcome your doubt, questioning, and self-perceived flaws. When you finish the race, for even that split second, those thoughts are quashed and you will notice a change in your own ability to overcome things in your everyday life.
PRACTICAL: Write down your biggest fear in relation to competing in a race. Having it on paper, or sharing it with someone halves the problem and helps you to get back in control over it.
3. A bonding experience. Competing in a race is a great way to bond with family, friends, or even work colleagues. You will get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses leading up to the race through your training, which will not only help you to get through the race but will bring you closer together. Most races allow you to register as a team and build momentum together. It’s a great way to make time to spend with people that you want to get to know better or build a stronger connection with – all while getting fit!
PRACTICAL: Encourage your work colleagues to participate in the next race with you and offer an incentive for when you all finish together.
4. You can support a great cause. Most organised runs have some charity that they are affiliated with, but even if they don’t, you can always start your own fundraising activities for the run. Utilise social media and encourage a bit of friendly competition to see who can raise the most money. You could even put up an prize for the biggest fundraiser in your team!
PRACTICAL: Set a dollar target for yourself or your team on a Facebook page and get fundraising!
5. It boosts your overall health goals. We now know that health is much more than just the physical, but getting the body moving is often the best way to kick start your other health goals. Training for a race requires great nutrition to fuel your training and get the body in peak condition. It also is a great way to master the mind to calm the body, and working on mindset mantras and meditation exercises can really help for preparation and during a race.
PRACTICAL: Write down three health goals that relate to the race and implement them during your training.
We talked last week about having something to be able to say you’ve accomplished for 2017 and a race is a great way to do it. So get researching the race that’s right for you and start training!
If you’re in Australia (and particularly Sydney), you would’ve felt the sudden change in temperate that signals Summer is over and Winter is fast approaching (bar maybe this beautiful Easter weekend we had!). There is a briskness in the morning air, the afternoon light fades much too quickly, and the nights require some form of blanket as opposed to a thin sheet.
While Autumn brings with it a beautiful time of year, it is also a reminder of the colds and flus that are on their way. However, there are both preventable and reactionary measures that can be taken in response to this seasonal change.
But firstly, what’s the difference between a cold and the flu? A cold can be either viral or bacterial, and (brace yourself) the difference is understood by the colour of the mucus that is produced. If it’s clear, then it’s a viral cold and will pass on its own. If the mucus is coloured and has lasted for more than 7 days, the cold has turned bacterial and it’s probably best you speak to your doctor about a course of antibiotics.
The actual ‘flu’ is caused by the influenza virus and can cause serious to severe complications. The flu can lead to other conditions, like pneumonia, and takes a lot longer to recover from than a typical cold. Unfortunately, because the flu is caused by a virus (and not bacteria) antibiotics will not do you any good and it comes down to the old fashioned methods of recovery.
So what are the best ways to PREVENT getting sick this winter?
1. Take a daily probiotic. Gut health is extremely important to your overall health, with 80% of your immune system in your digestive system. Throw your gut health out of whack and you open up the body’s virtual door to any virus or bacteria that want to come in.
Probiotics provide good bacteria that is needed for a healthy digestive system. Taking a probiotic every morning BEFORE breakfast will help improve your general wellbeing, your digestive health, and most importantly for this time of year, your immunity.
2. Hit your sleep targets. With the first quarter of the year already done and dusted, work often ramps up at this time of year with KPI’s and targets a constant stress.
Surviving the Winter period will mean putting sleep down as one of your own personal KPI’s as it is the primary source of restoration and recovery for the body. Aim to get between 7-9 hours every night, and of high quality (i.e. no disruptions) in order to get the most benefit.
3. Take your vitamins. Vitamin C is one of the most UNDERATED vitamins on the market. Vitamin C not only promotes the production of healthy white blood cells to fight off infections, but also helps the body to develop healthy lungs and respiratory tissue. Vitamin C is so high in antioxidants that it repels infective organisms in the airways to stop them taking over. Adding to this, Zinc and Echinacea are also wonder vitamins and herbal remedies that work both preventatively and during an infection.
Take Vitamin C preventatively in powder form (Melrose does a great range of the powders) with a quarter to half a teaspoon a day. You can also take Armaforce, which is a tablet combining all of the above.
4. Get the flu shot. For the actual flu, the only way to avoid it is the injection. While it doesn’t cover EVERY strain, it covers the main ones. It won’t stop you from getting colds but it will stop you from being knocked out and bedridden for two weeks.
Your local chemist now does flu injections where they usually have set visiting hours for walk-ins, or you can make an appointment with your local doctor.
5. Listen to your body. This month we’re talking about listening to your intuition and your body. This applies to how you’re feeling physically as well. One of the worst things we see are clients who feel the initial stages of a cold coming on and push themselves to keep going – working, exercising, going out. This will DOUBLE the time that it takes to recover.
If however you stop yourself early on at the first sign of symptoms and rest, recover, and take some time out, the cold will be gone significantly faster than if you had tried to push through. It’s also best to stay at home and not pass it around the office so that everyone experiences what you are!
Ok so that’s the prevention. What about if the virus does get through all these barriers? Because some just manage to slip through the cracks no matter how hard you try. Well, it takes double the effort (sometimes literally) and we’ll cover that in next week’s blog!
This week we’re interviewing Kat Jacob. Kat’s a passionate personal trainer who is doing some amazing things with her own training. She works with many corporate clients, so this week we’re talking to her about how exercise can help relieve stress and what types of exercise are best for that whether you’re a beginner or more advanced.
So let’s jump right into this interview with Kat:
So Kat, tell us a little about your background and how you became a personal trainer?
I’ve been passionate about health and fitness for as long as I can remember; I always loved being active and been interested in nutrition. Over the last few years I found that my ‘actual’ job – Event Producer – was impacting more and more on that lifestyle; the years of working long hours and late nights started to take its toll and I became stressed and sick.
I started questioning whether I was in the right job – I was producing amazing events, but it started to feel meaningless and the risk of giving up a safe income and changing careers very quickly became less scary than the thought of staying in the events industry for the rest of my life.
I happened to be introduced to the right person at around that time, which led me to take the leap and start on my journey to becoming a PT. I have now quit the events industry altogether and can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve made – there are challenging times and the money is nowhere near the same yet, but I am a much happier & healthier person and finally feel like I’m helping people change their lives in a positive way.
That certainly is a leap of faith! You now do a range of different training regimes yourself? Can you tell us a little more about them and why you do so many?
I love having variety in my workouts – it keeps me motivated and to me is much more fun than doing the same thing every day. I’m also a big believer in that we need to keep challenging our bodies to get stronger & fitter – by exposing it to a variety of activities & exercises we allow our bodies to grow in a much broader way. It also helps aid recovery between big sessions to give those movement patterns you just worked very hard a break and get the body moving in a different way.
The majority of my training is based on Gymnastic Strength Training – lots of handstands, bodyweight strength training, rings etc. with a big focus on mobility. There is a lot of variety within this style of training, and I love the strategic approach of working towards set goals (i.e. a muscle up) – it pushes me to get better and work hard. I like mixing things up on my rest days with touch football, surfing / swimming, hiking or the odd run.
Wow that certainly is a lot! How do you keep up with all your different training schedules with so much going on? What’s your secret tip for fitting it all in?
I’m actually German and used to be an event producer so being organised comes with the territory! But in all seriousness, for me it’s all about planning ahead and having a set schedule of what to do when & where. I plan my sessions in 6 week cycles, and each session is written down so when I go to the gym I just need to open up that notebook and know exactly what I’ve got to do that day to stay on track.
It means I don’t have to think about it when I get there but can focus my energy on the session, and it holds me accountable on those days where I’m feeling tired. I also meet up with a mate a couple of times a week and we train together – we teach each other new stuff, play with different exercises, spot each other and just generally make sure the other one pushes (or rests!) when we need to.
That’s a great tip about planning your workouts in advance. It takes the effort out of trying to think what you’re going to do when you actually get to the gym which sometimes feels like half the workout!
So this month we’re talking a lot about stress and mental health. Can you tell us how exercise helps with that?
Exercise is proven to reduce our bodies stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – and stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemicals in our brain that act as natural pain killers and help lift our mood.
Exercise can also help take your mind off things and shift your focus, and some exercises can in fact be a form of moving meditation – running or long power walks tend to do that for me! It can be a great way to get in some ‘me-time’ to create the space to think things through or just find the time to breather and switch off.
Exercising regularly makes you want to eat healthier too, which in turn helps reducing the stress, as your body will be fuelled with the right nutrients to help cope with stress.
For some statistics on the connection between physical exercise and mental health, check out the Waves of Wellness Foundation. Interestingly, research has shown that physical activities can sometimes be more beneficial for patients with mental health than a strictly clinical approach; after working with the ‘One Wave’ charity Joel Pilgrim founded ‘Waves of Wellness’ based on this approach, a non for profit that helps people struggling with mental health to find an outlet through surf therapy.
Exercise helps people to feel better about themselves, and the community & their support that comes with sports and exercise groups can provide a sense of belonging too.
So there are a lot of benefits and some great statistics to back it up!
One of the biggest concerns our clients tell us is that they don’t have enough TIME to fit in exercise. How would you overcome that?
I think the most important thing is to find a type of exercise you love – if you really enjoy something and it makes you happy, you will find it much easier to make the time.
The gym isn’t for everyone – try team sports, swimming, cycling, yoga, tennis etc. and figure out which activity makes exercise fun and not just a chore you feel obliged to do for health reasons.
Also, think about why you want to exercise – to feel healthier, to be able to keep up with your kids, or because you want to learn a new skill? It’ll help your motivation and keep you going on the days where it gets hard.
That’s so true, you have to find something you love. Exercise can’t be seen as another chore in our lives – we just won’t do it. Plus we work with clients consistently to re-identify their ‘why’ for all their goals. It’s just one of the best ways to keep them motivated and pushing forward!
So what are the best exercises to be doing to get in a quick, efficient and sweat inducing workout?
My go to for a quick and efficient workout is a bodyweight circuit (think lots of animal movements like bear crawls, ape walks, frog squats, caterpillar walks and bodyweight pushing & pulling exercises. followed by some max sprint efforts –it’ll get your heart pumping & the sweat going while working your entire body.
And what if I’m a beginner and never really exercised before, is there anything different that I should be doing?
The most important thing is to ease yourself into it – you don’t want to go so hard that you’re hurting for days as that’s the best way to stop yourself from wanting to go back.
If you’re unsure about technique or completely new to something, I’d recommend taking a few classes to learn the ropes and make sure you’re getting it right from the outset. It’s harder to fix bad habits than learning from scratch, and the right technique can make the difference between reaping the benefits or getting injured.
Stuart McGill, a professor of spine mechanics said “First move well, then move often.” and I 100% agree with that statement. Other than that – get out there, try lots of different things and find the kind of exercise that makes you keep coming back.
That’s it isn’t it. Just try something! But don’t go too hard. So many people go out really hard in that first week and when they can’t walk think “I’m never doing that again!”. It’s just best to build it up.
Ok so the other end of the spectrum, what if I’m quite advanced, how can I keep pushing the intensity and make sure I’m making progress?
Add some variety to your workouts by taking it into a different environment (i.e. outdoors or vice versa), add new movements into your sessions, look at ways to achieve your goals by trying a new approach.
Let’s say you want to learn how to handstand – don’t just keep kicking up again and again, look at what other skills and strength you might need to achieve that handstand and work on those – for example your shoulder mobility, core strength etc. It adds diversity while still working towards your main goal, helping to get there faster.
Another option is to find a training partner or group, a bit of healthy competition can go a long way in stepping up your game and it may expose you to some new ideas.
Yes healthy competition is definitely a great way to up the anti! We’ve talked about that previously for finding your training soulmate!
Ok final question, what would be your top three tips for a corporate worker trying to integrate three exercise sessions during the week?
One thing that can make a big difference is getting the exercise in first thing in the morning – that way it’s done and no matter what the day throws at you or how tired you are after work, you will have had your exercise. Plus it’s a nice way to start the day rather than rolling from bed onto a chair and sit down right away, it’ll get your body and your mind going.
I know it can be challenging when you work long hours or have kids to get back to, so you could try to incorporate exercise in your day in a way that makes it easy and doesn’t leave much room for excuses. When I was still in events, I used to run home from work at least a couple times a week – depending on the route I’d get a good 45 – 60min run in and with traffic taking the bus would’ve taken the same time. Or you could walk the first 5km before getting on the train home, cycle to and from work or give a lunchtime class a go. Travel a lot? Pack your trainers, most hotels have a gym & pool, or you can go for a walk and explore the area.
If your week gets the better of you, get moving on the weekends! If you have kids, get them involved – go for a bike ride, play soccer in the park…there are so many options. Find the most convenient option for your lifestyle and make it a part of your routine – trust me, you will be more productive as a result and feel better for it!
There’s always a way if you make it a priority right! Thanks so much Kat that was really helpful.
Well readers we hope you all got something useful out of that and you’re all going to kickstart your workouts to feel the benefits!
Who here wants more ENERGY?
It’s one of the underpinning philosophies here at Energy|Body|Mind (hence the name) and there’s a reason for it; the amount of energy you have impacts on your quality of life EVERYDAY.
If you wake up tired, how much do you feel like fuelling yourself with a healthy breakfast, or going to the gym, or even being mindful throughout the day?
So if Energy is the answer to a lot of your problems, why do so many of us struggle to have enough? Unfortunately, there are many things in our life (particularly STRESS), which rob or drain energy from us, and to replace it; we need to take proactive steps.
So below are the top five ways that you can boost your energy through nutrition to have you bouncing off the walls and having others ask “what are you on?”:
1. Start the day with a supercharged coffee.
“What? Coffee? But I already do that?”. For those who love their coffee, mornings wouldn’t be the same without that warm liquid gold that gives you the ability to function throughout at least half the morning.
Australia’s obsession with coffee is fairly new, comparatively speaking to most European countries. We’re ranked 42nd in the world for coffee consumption, while Finland is number one. Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon for many people to feel emotionally dependent on their barista to get their morning hit!
There are (fortunately) many health benefits associated with MODERATE consumption of caffeine, including increased athletic endurance, healthy brain function, cellular health and longevity, healthy blood sugar levels, and liver support.
But what happens when we have too MUCH caffeine. Well, it’s like when we consume those sugary energy drinks. They are loaded with that white powder that we already know is bad for us (sugar) plus an unnatural amount of caffeine. When we have too much caffeine we start to experience:
So try to limit yourself to 1 to 2 cups a day. Switch to herbal teas after that and after about 3pm. While some clients swear they can have a cup of coffee and go straight to sleep, it still interrupts your circadian rhythm, which is one thing we don’t want to mess with!
Now what is a ‘supercharged’ coffee? Check out number 2…
2. Get friendly with bone broth.
Bone broth has started to receive a lot of attention recently as one of the new ‘superfoods’. Never heard of bone broth? It’s an incredible source of easy to digest protein and a good source of hydration.
Some people like to supercharge their coffee with bone broth. It’s loaded with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which takes your coffee from a nice morning drink to an essential go-to energy beverage.
However, bone broth can be added to anything, not just your coffee. Put it in a smoothie, a juice, you can even have it on its own. They even make a bone broth protein powder now (just in case you can’t handle the taste of the pure stuff) and it still gives you a hit of all those amazing benefits.
3. Pump the pump bottle.
I know what you’re thinking – water really? How is that going to give me energy? Well, being dehydrated is one of the biggest causes of fatigue and exhaustion. It seems that many Australian’s are very dehydrated, and just have no idea that going and filling up their glass could make a huge different to their overall energy.
The average person needs to be drinking about 2 litres of water a day, but if you’re exercising and sweating more, you need to up the anti. Having a glass of water first thing in the morning (or supercharged with lemon or apple cider vinegar) will make a huge difference to your day. Finishing off the day with another glass at least 30 minutes before bed will also keep you hydrated throughout the night.
Remember the mantra: “If I’m thirsty, it’s already too late!”.
4. Go nuts.
The feeling of pure exhaustion and fatigue can make you feel like you’re going a little nutty at times. It’s a real drain on your physical and emotional needs when you’re not bouncing with energy. Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are rich in protein and magnesium, a mineral that plays a key role in converting sugar into energy.
This doesn’t mean you can start to mix nuts with high sugary foods, it just means that they are helping to covert those natural sugars more easily into the fuel you need.
Nuts are a great snack and also a great pick me up, so instead of reaching for those sugary biscuits or chips, try a few nuts with some fruit if you need that 3pm snack.
5. Calling all chocoholics!
Chocoholics we have good news: a little bit of dark chocolate has been shown to boost your energy and mood. So no you’re not imagining that little rush after you eat that delicious goodness.
Just try and make sure it is DARK chocolate. And by dark, we’re talking at least 70% dark. Some brands claim to have ‘dark’ chocolate, but when you look at the ingredients, they can be as low as 30-40%.
We want to try and just have little bits of the ‘good stuff’, and dark chocolate helps us do that because it is so rich.
So there you have it – the top five ways to boost your energy through different fuel sources. Remember, every time we eat we’re trying to fuel our bodies. If you’re feeling lethargic or tired after you eat certain foods, that may be a sign that your body is NOT using them as a source of fuel (check out what you can do here).
For the month of March, we’re talking about stress, and the ways that we can manage it. Stress is something that we can’t avoid, but if we learn the tools and techniques to control it, then we can go a long way to creating a healthier and happier life.
It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but exercise can be one of the best measures to immediately and sustainably reduce stress. After all, exercise is known to increase cortisol – the stress hormone – so how can it also manage it?
On the one hand, stress weakens the brain, particularly the part responsible for your memory. Conversely, exercise promotes the production of neuro-hormones that are responsible for learning, and improved cognitive function. So we now know that just by increasing your heart rate through exercise, you can start to immediately reduce the impacts of stress. There are a few other positives that you can get from exercise that relate to reducing stress:
1. It creates a sense of calm. Stress can really take control of your life. When you think about your never-ending ‘to-do list’ in both your work and personal life, everything can feel somewhat overwhelming and cause the body to try and shut down. Regular exercise can provide structure to your otherwise chaotic life. It is a great way to train the body to get into a rhythm, and as human beings we crave this.
2. It gives you a hit of the ‘feel good’ hormone. When we’re stressed, our self-confidence often takes a hit. Exercise helps to boost the production of endorphins, so that ‘high’ that you get after you exercise (and often for hours after) is not imagined. It improves your confidence and your decision making abilities to keep you switched on for the whole day.
3. It helps with your breathing. Ancient wisdom used to count a persons life by the number of breaths they took, so learning techniques to slow down the breathing were highly regarded. When we exercise, it forces the body to learn how to take deeper and more controlled breaths and be more efficient with oxygen. The more efficient your body becomes with regular exercise, the better your breathing. When we have calm and controlled breathing, we feel physically and mentally calmer and in control.
4. It helps your heart. Heart issues are one of the biggest killers in Australia. While exercise is a great way to get over a broken heart, it also helps with your physical heart health. Linked to #3, when you start to breathe diaphragmatic (nice deep breaths into the belly), the diaphragm gives the heart a gentle massage. This massage keeps the heart beating in a controlled and consistent manner and is also a sign to the body to switch on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) where our body focuses on digesting and resting.
5. It will improve your sleep. This one is all but guaranteed. Not only does the research tell us that exercise helps us to sleep, but I’ve SEEN it in all of my clients. I had clients who were previously on multiple sleeping pills and potions be able to wean themselves off them all just from taking up exercise. The benefits of getting a good nights sleep are second to none!
So if you’re feeling stressed, try to get moving. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous gym class or bootcamp (though they are great). Something as simple as walking regularly is shown to have access to all of the above benefits. A walk around the block before an important meeting can be a great way to calm the nerves, or a run after work can be one of the best ways to de-stress after a busy day. Exercise is one of the BEST remedies you can implement to manage your stress – and it’s FREE!
Research has recently come to light that if you live in a neighbourhood surrounded by trees, shrubs, and chirping birds, then there is less chance for you to suffer from anxiety or stress.
According to researchers, lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon. But can it really be that simple?
People are increasingly spending time indoors, and with the majority of the day for most spent inside at a computer, it’s no wonder that we’re starting to see the health detriments to society.
The link between the role of nature for our mental well-being has long been established, yet many still fail to get their daily dose of the outside world.
There are several ways that you can try to up the dose of nature in your daily life:
1. Exercise outdoors. Gym memberships can be an astronomical cost, with some gyms demanding up to $100 a week from some of their members. Exercise doesn’t have to be such a costly exercise, AND doing it outdoors gives you a considerable chunk of your day connecting with nature. Go for a walk / jog / run, complete a circuit in your local park, join an outdoor bootcamp at lunchtime; the options are out there!
2. Take a break. I actually think smokers have this one down pat the best. While I don’t advocate for smoking in any way, the one thing that they do best is take breaks regularly outside! Back in my corporate life, I used to get the smokers of the office to come and take me on their ‘smoko breaks’ as a reminder to get outside. As long as I stood upwind, it was a great chance for me to get a few extra minutes outside with nature and re-centre before heading back into the office. A great way to boost your productivity as well!
3. Implement outdoor meetings. I’ve spoken about this before, but on top of having walking meetings (or if that’s not possible), get your meetings outside. Technology has meant that we can be very mobile and portable with our ideas, so take the meeting to a café with an outdoor area, or meet in a bigger space that has access to sunshine and all the elements. It’s amazing how refreshed you’ll feel afterwards compared to being stuck in an air-conditioned building.
4. Convert your commute. We often become so stuck in our ways that we forget the various options we have for commuting. You can walk/jog/run all or part of the way, ride a bike, ride a skateboard/scooter, get creative! Getting up that little bit earlier or getting home just that little bit later will be worth it for your mental and physical health.
5. Bring nature to you. While working outside or out of an office is not a reality for all of us, we can try and bring some of the elements from the outside in. Invest in a plant or succulent that you can have in the office and encourage others to ‘green up’ the space. Research has shown that just looking at nature can help you to feel more relaxed, so when that deadline is becoming overwhelming, or you’ve received a passive aggressive email from a colleague, or your boss is breathing down your neck, you just need a few minutes staring at something green and natural to calm the mind.
So while the headline grab of ‘birds improve mental health’ may be a little simplified, this study does uncover the role primary components of nature contribute toward our mental health. Integrating nature into our daily lives highlights the benefits of preventative healthcare and encourages us as a society to make our cities a healthier place to live.
Sugar coated: Australian’s are increasingly getting out of shape and putting on weight.
The truth: two out of three Australian’s are overweight or obese.
Sugar coated: We should be doing something to help people eat healthier and make better choices.
The truth: Australia is facing an obesity crisis and the Federal Government need to take leadership on this issue.
There are so many different initiatives that could be undertaken to tackle the rising obesity crisis that we’re dealing with in Australia. But when a landmark study recommends taxing junk food, especially sugary drinks, to make them more expensive, and reducing advertising and marketing of those products to children as one of the most effective ways, then maybe we need to listen?
Unfortunately, the Federal Government is doing the exact opposite, with the Minister for Health Greg Hunt bluntly saying, “We do not support a new tax on sugar to address this issue”. When you need to keep big corporates on side I understand it can be difficult to put the health of the nation at the forefront.
Hunt went on to say, “Our Health Star Rating system helps people to make healthier choices when choosing packaged foods at the supermarket and encourages the food industry to reformulate their products to be healthier”. However there are some significant limitations to the Health Star Rating system.
For example, the system is voluntary, which means that its up to the food manufacturers as to whether or not the product will display the health stars. Plus, many of the items that we’re meant to be eating (think fresh fruit and vegetables) are not packaged, so they don’t display the health stars. When their main slogan is “the more stars the better” it kind of makes this misleading.
The calculation of the stars is also somewhat unclear, with full-cream unsweetened natural yoghurts scoring lower than sugary fruit yoghurts. Similarly, fruit juices score four or five stars despite being very high in sugar because they receive positive points for fruit content.
In a context where consumers are extremely price sensitive due to the rising cost of living, would it not make more sense to incentivise healthy behaviours and penalise the unhealthy? The freedom of choice will forever remain, however the choice to eat healthier is now also economically the easier option.
I believe with any behavioural change strategies, we need to work on increasing both motivation while simultaneously removing barriers. In the case of eating healthy, we’re using the concept of money as a mechanism for changing behaviour.
Putting a sugar tax on foods that are clearly not healthy for us not only sends a strong signal educationally that ‘this food is not healthy’ but also communicates on a consumer level that ‘this is no longer the economically viable choice’. The World Health Organisation has urged all countries to implement a sugar tax, and found that such a tax of 20% results in a drop in sales and consumption of sugary drinks.
The best part is, it’s not like Australia would be pioneering the way or going down a completely unknown path. In fact, we’re quite far behind with countries like Denmark, France, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, the UK and some US states bringing in a sugar tax.
The leader of this latest study at the Global Obesity Centre at Deakin University, Dr Gary Sacks, said “It can’t be that we are all inadequate human beings… the problem is we live in an environment where junk food is everywhere, it’s heavily marketed and in a lot of cases, it’s really cheap.”
He’s totally on the mark with this one – it’s not that we are all unable to avoid temptation and consciously seek out the ‘bad stuff’; it’s literally thrown in our faces on a daily basis. Think about the amount of money spent on advertising for chips, chocolate and lollies versus the amount spent on sprucing fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s no wonder that when we’re hungry we reach for a chocolate bar.
So is taxing the right answer? The evidence in support seems to point towards a YES. So what can you do about it to get the ball rolling? Start the conversation. Write on Facebook to your local MP. Share the story on your own social media. Do your own research into what has happened in other countries when they have brought in a sugar tax. Educate yourself and others. You can do something and together we can bring about change.
How was your sleep last night? Did you get a solid, uninterrupted 8 hours of bliss? If you’re like most people, last night probably looked more like dragging yourself to bed once you’d reached complete exhaustion, tossing and turning, waking up randomly at 3am and feeling wide awake, then being rudely awoken by your alarm. Sound familiar?
There’s a spectrum of the quality of sleep between the complete bliss and the complete nightmare, and if you’re sitting closer to the latter then it’s time for a reset.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything from pills and potions to plants and night-lights, a new study from the University of Colorado has shown that there may be a much simpler way and it comes from the great outdoors.
Think about the way that our ancestors used to live, they’d rise with the sun and go to sleep with the sun. Their circadian rhythm was very much dependent on natural light which kept the body clock in check.
Fast forward to the way we live and we are not only deprived of natural light, spending hours under artificial lighting in office blocks, but we’re also forcing this artificial light into our lives late into the night. This is causing chaos with our circadian rhythm, and is a significant contributor to the lack of quality sleep.
Melatonin is the hormone that is released that helps us go off to sleep. It is well known that light destroys melatonin in our bodies. Going to bed late not only contributes to tiredness and productivity throughout the day, but is also now linked with obesity, diabetes and mood disorders.
So how do you hit the ‘reset’ button? A recent study has shown that just a couple of nights in the great outdoors are enough to retune the body’s internal clock. This not only allows you to fall asleep more easily, but it allows the body to move through the five stages of sleep more rhythmically.
So say you’ve done your weekend reset, how do you keep it up? Here are the top five ways to bring the traditional outdoors elements back in with you:
1. Embrace the darkness. The natural environment has one key element that we seem to be missing in our modern world – complete darkness. I love when staying at hotel rooms they have those blackout blinds. I could be sleeping in the middle of the day and think it’s the dead of night because it’s so DARK! At home, do your best to make your bedroom as dark as possible. Remove all sources of artificial light – even a TV light is enough to keep you wired. Invest in some good blackout blinds (or get creative with your own DIY version). Even using an eye mask can really help to take your body into full darkness.
2. Turn off the tech. This is often the hardest one for a lot of people. When you go camping (and you do it right) there is no technology. Phones, ipads, ipods, all i-things are off. While it is not realistic in the modern world to throw away your phone, try weaning yourself off before bedtime. Start with switching it off (or to flight mode) 5 minutes before bed. Then extend that to 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, up to 2 hours before bed. Not having contact with a screen before bed REALLY helps to unwind the mind and help you switch off before going to sleep. All those thoughts that come racing in as soon as your head hits the pillow will have time to digest BEFORE bed if you allow them.
3. Lessen the lights. Unlike in camping where you have to follow the sun for the hours you can be awake and active, I’m not going to tell you to go to bed with the sun (particularly hard in winter when the sun goes to bed so early!). Instead, try and dim lighting in your house, or keep it to a minimum for 30 minutes before bed. Use low lighting lamps, candles, lights that aren’t so aggressive and prone to destroying that much needed melatonin release!
4. Set your bedtime meeting. My clients who have the best nights sleep treat their bedtime like an important meeting. Some of them even have an alarm when it’s time to go to bed! Getting into a routine of a set bed time that’s at a reasonable hour not only helps keep that circadian rhythm happy but also makes waking up on the other end much easier!
5. Target is 7-9. That’s hours of sleep. It’s sometimes easier to work backwards, figuring out what time you need to get up with what time you need to go to bed. Research shows that it’s the hours BEFORE midnight that are the best quality, so try and make at least two of those hours before midnight.
Sleeping has such a huge impact on how we feel; our energy levels, food cravings, our ability to exercise and move. It is one of the biggest problems that clients come to me with, and one of the best solutions to so many other (seemingly unrelated) problems! Start working on your sleep routine today and see how it transforms your life.