June 20, 2017
We’re flying through 2017 – can you believe it’s already June? But we’re using this month as a time for internal reflection and assessment as to how we’re faring this year.
For this week’s blog, we’re looking at our nutrition to see where we might be holding ourselves back.
Fruit & Vegetable Test
We have previously been told that we need 5 (vegetables) and 2 (fruits) a day to help prevent various diseases and remain healthy, but new research has come out showing that 10 portions a day may give us longer lives. The study by Imperial College London calculated that such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year.
One of the researchers, Dr Dagfinn Aune said: “Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system.” Compared with eating no fruits or vegetables a day, the research showed:
~ 200g cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% while 800g cut the risk by 28%
~ 200g cut the risk of cancer by 4%, while 800g cut the risk by 13%
~ 200g cut the risk of a premature death by 15%, while 800g cut the risk by 31%
So the basic message is the more the better.
Now what does that mean for you? It means that we need to jam pack every single meal with vegetables, as the ‘meat and three vege’ for dinner is no longer going to cut it. But how do you do it?
1. Breakfast: integrate vegetables (spinach, avocado, tomatoes, kale) into your breakfast through a vege-packed omelette or a super-boost smoothie. When you mix the vegetables with either the egg mixture or some fruit in your blender, you won’t even taste the goodness that you’re getting.
2. Lunch: have a salad-based lunch packed with mixed vegetables that can be integrated with your lean protein (animal or plant based). Or for those colder months, bring leftovers of slow cooked stir-frys and soups.
3. Dinner: form the foundation of your dinners on vegetables rather than carbohydrates. For example, use grated cauliflower instead of rice or spiralled zucchini instead of pasta. Using vegetables to replace carbohydrates not only ups your vegetable servings, it also cuts down on the sugar hit you may be getting from the carbohydrates at dinner.
4. Snacks: fruit is one of the best snacks to have, but don’t forget that chopped up vegetables dipped in hummus is also a killer snack. Combine that with some nuts and you’ve got a wholesome snack.
If there’s ONE element that we could all do with cutting down on, it’s sugar. Even if you’re not one to add sugar to your morning tea/coffee (but particularly if you are!), there are hidden sugars in most of the packaged foods that we’re eating.
Health research tells us that we should be limiting our sugar intake to 3-5 teaspoons a day, or in other words 5-15grams of sugar. Factoring this into your day is made more difficult by the fact that ‘serving sizes’ are often misleading calculations of the amount of a certain food we are going to eat.
To really take stock of your daily sugar count, track your intake of all foods over a standard 7 day period and see the breakdown. Our favourite tracker is MyFitnessPal.
Here at EBM we don’t believe in calorie counting. Our bodies don’t seem to enjoy being told that we need to restrict our food, and they certainly don’t want to feel like they’re missing out.
However, we do need to be mindful of how much we are consuming throughout the day compared to our energy expenditure. More often than not, it is our snacking in between meals that lets us down in the calorie consumption department.
Our body isn’t made to be constantly digesting foods, as there are loads more primary functions that it needs to be completing. Think of eating like emails on your computer. You want to be focusing on your core work – the projects that drive the output you do each day. But emails continue to trickle in throughout the day, distracting you away from your core task.
Snacking is the same principle for our body. Instead of our body being able to focus on detoxifying, replacing new cells, and recharging (the core task), it has to keep coming back to digesting foods (the emails).
Take stock of how often you are eating throughout the day. The fitness industry has unfortunately advocated for these six small meals throughout the day to allegedly ‘keep our metabolism firing’. But the research just doesn’t stack up. Findings from intermittent fasting shows us that allowing the body considerable breaks between meals (anywhere from 4 to 18 hours overnight) does wonders for our body’s longevity. If you are eating more than 2-3 times per day, see whether you can limit that down by 1 meal in the first month.
Cravings seem to now be a regular part of life – that 3pm slump sends millions of Australian’s to the proverbial cookie jar to get their afternoon hit. In coaching, we talk about the 8 main causes of cravings and being able to identify the cause for the craving helps to eliminate or reduce it. This week, just identify the timing and the source of your cravings. Next week we’ll go through what those cravings mean and how best to overcome them.
So it’s easy to see how our eating and energy habits can slowly start to sabotage us. Taking stock every 3-6 months can help lead us back to the path we set off on at the beginning of each year. Remember, we don’t fall off the bandwagon, we drift; to get back on we need to assess where we are.
Photo Credit: @smoothie._
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.
For the month of June we’re going to check in with your health. Our innate connection to nature extends to the cycles that it experiences every season. Winter is a time for rest, recharge and internalisation. If we try to keep at pace throughout this time without taking the due rest, the body overrides and forces us to do so by making us sick.
So this week’s mind blog is all about doing an overall health check. The World Health Organisation describes good mental health as: ‘a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’. Here at EBM, we don’t think it’s good enough to just coast through life feeling lethargic and overwhelmed. We want you to be feeling 100% as much of the time as possible!
Below we explore some of the ways to assess the state of your health, and how to allow self-reflection during this time.
Whenever we run corporate wellness workshops, the question of “who is stressed?” never fails to raise a majority of hands. Stress is now more than ever a daily part of life, and it is causing all sorts of havoc in our bodies (read more HERE).
Testing your level of stress can be important for beginning to understand the triggers of your stress and thus ways to mitigate it. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is the most widely used psychological instrument for measuring the perception of stress. It helps to determine what degree certain situations are considered to be stressful for each person.
Some example questions include:
“In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?”
“In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?”
“In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?”
Being open and honest with your answers not only allows you to identify your own pain-points, but carves the path to a solution much more clearly.
If you’re interested in learning more about your levels of stress, you can take the short survey HERE.
We talk about sleep a lot, only because it’s so important to how we feel overall. Research tells us that we all need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night (yes even if you’re superman/woman).
So the first part of the sleep test is to identify how many nights on an average week you would achieve those 7-9 hours. If it is more than 4, that is classified as a passing. If it is less, then techniques can be applied to help you achieve this.
But we also want the QUALITY of the sleep to be as good as the quantity. The second part of the test is how many times you wake up during the night. If it’s more than zero (yes that’s right!) then it’s important to look at what is triggering these wakeups and work on reducing them.
We’ve spoken on the importance of hydration before, but this test is also two pronged. The first part is to take stock of the amount of water that you’re drinking everyday, and get that number up to 2L a day (to learn techniques on HOW click here).
The second part is to identify the number of alcoholic beverages per week. Research says 1-2 per day is ok, but many people often mistaken this to mean you can cumulate them and use all of your numbers on the weekend. It’s also good to have some alcohol free days as well. Alcohol also affects your hydration levels, so even one drink means you need to up your water intake significantly.
Solution: Mindfulness and Meditation
Having a health check is a great way to gain a snapshot into your current health situation, but where to from there? Many health coaches do health checks, only to then leave clients high and dry for the solutions to the problems that have been identified.
As this month is focusing on the mind, the solution we are focusing on is practising mindfulness and meditation. With Winter signalling a time for turning inwards, this is one of the BEST times to learn or deepen your meditation practice (you can learn HOW to here).
Doing daily check-ins with yourself to see what has stressed you and turn that around by focusing on what you’re grateful for will cumulate into positive changes to your daily mindset. A great mindfulness exercise is to spend a few minutes at the end of each day writing down three things you are grateful for. Even the smallest things can make the day worthwhile when focusing on them.
In next week’s body blog we’ll be talking about a fitness assessment, so tune in to see how you stack up!
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!
There’s been a lot of chat in the past couple of months about Millennial’s, and various ‘experts’ coming forward to say why they aren’t able to afford a house, or keep a job, or prosper in life. The most famous is this one from Steven Sinek on Millennial’s in the workplace.
There’s been a range of ideas put forward as to how we can save for what we’ve been wishing for, from cutting down on a daily coffee to eliminating our beauty regimes, and stopping overseas travel. While it seems ludicrous to our grandparents that we would do all these things when trying to save for a house, are they now considered essentials in our daily life or can we afford to cut them out?
One area that seems to be costing anyone who works a corporate job, which these days consists of much more than just the traditional 9-5pm, is food. On average if you spend $10 on takeaway lunch everyday, that’s $50 a week and $2,400 for a 48-week year. Compounding this is dinners out, with an average spent of $40 3 times a week, that’s $120. Per year that equates to $6,240 and this doesn’t take into account expensive weekend meals or holiday feasts.
As we start to put financial and other goals on our list as we get older, saving starts to become that much more important. With compounded interest on that saving of $8,640 (lunches and three dinners out) per year that’s the equivalent to $47,741 over 5 years and $108,573 over 10 years. Throw your daily coffee into the mix and that’s quite a nice little savings jar!
So how can we save $8,640 a year to do this? One answer to this: meal preparation. You do not have to be a body builder to nail meal prep, and you do not have to think of meal prep as just chicken and broccoli. The health benefits of meal preparation go beyond the financial savings that you’ll make. When you know what is going into your food you are in control of exactly what you’re eating, and there’s no secret sauces or hidden ingredients that are hindering your health goals.
If you can just dedicate a few hours on the weekends to your meal prep the “I don’t have time or the energy” argument becomes a mute point. So how do you do it?
1. Find 20 Recipes.
20 may not seem like a lot, but as you get into meal prepping you only use about 10-20 recipes for the whole year. You’ll find ones that are your favourite and that you have down pat and are easy to prepare. Focus on recipes that are quick and easy and require little preparation time. They should integrate your three key macros: protein, carbohydrates and fats in the correct proportions.
2. Take a Cooking Class.
It seems that knowing how to cook delicious and wholesome food has become a bit of a mystery. While many will argue that great cooking is an art, unlike other creative endeavours ANYONE can create good food. Learning from the pros is not only a fun way to experiment with food, but it also provides you with some great fundamental skills and will add to your recipe base.
3. Experiment with Herbs and Spices.
If you want to make your food go from good to great, you need to get comfortable with using different flavours. Herbs and spices are the easiest and healthiest way to add depth and taste to your meals. You’ll start to learn what you like combining together and which flavours you prefer. If you want to really go above and beyond, you can start your own herb garden on your balcony. Having the fundamentals like basil, rosemary and thyme can give you an endless supply of herbs at your fingertips!
4. Dedicate 3 Hours a Week.
When we cook throughout the week it can get tiring, messy and blowout into hours of preparation, cooking, and cleaning. If instead you set aside 3 hours on the weekend to do all of this, you cut down the time that you need to spend overall and particularly during the week when you arrive home from work. Set yourself up with your breakfast, lunch and dinner containers with everything cut up, cooked if possible, and ready to just be reheated or thrown in the oven. Our favourite tip is having glass jars with all your vegetables already chopped up so when you get home you just need to switch on the oven, throw them on a tray, and cook!
5. Rinse and Repeat.
Fortunately in this domain practice makes perfect. As you start to find the 10-15 recipes that you like each week, you’ll become more efficient and quicker at preparing those foods. Make it a ritual that you dedicate the time to yourself on the weekends to be fuelling your body for the week with nutritious and healthy foods.
Saving money is a great way to motivate yourself to eat healthy. Create a list of goals that you want to achieve with specific timeframes and see the dollars you are saving from meal preparation going towards helping you make them!
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!
Founder of E|B|M Angela has a birthday coming up this week, so in celebration of this we’re talking all things related to milestones.
You’ll commonly see lists like “30 by 30” or “50 by 50” that people set themselves as goals to achieve by a certain timeline. Not only do these lists help to set plans and timelines in place, but they are a fun way to put together a bucket list to do by yourself, with your friends, or with your significant other.
Today we’re putting together a top 10 list that you may find some inspiration for your own list no matter what age you are! The important thing with lists like this is that you only put elements on there that personally relate to you and that you consider important! Find yourself a comfortable space in the sunshine or rugged up on your lounge and get creative.
NOTE this is not a typical “achievement list”; this is looking through the lens of ENERGY|BODY|MIND of creating a healthier and happier YOU.
#1 Set a five and ten year plan: if the word ‘plan’ makes you run in the opposite direction then this one is DEFINITELY for you. As we get older the years seem to absolutely fly by. Before you know it, Christmas is here again and another year is over, but you can’t seem to think about what you’ve achieved in that last 12 months. Having a longer term plan can help time to slow down, with smaller milestones set along the way to achieve the bigger plan. It also means that your decisions become geared towards this goal on a daily basis, and instead of floating through each day, week, month or year, you can depend on your life goals to guide you. You may even put some of these things from the list in it.
#2 Find your significant other: You don’t need to have an engagement or marriage on your list (although if that is important to you then you definitely can!) but finding your significant other is an honourable quest. Finding that one person that you want to spend a majority of your life with and who has similar goals and values to you can make life just that little bit sweeter. However, a huge realisation is that this significant other cannot fulfil ALL your desires from another human. They cannot act as your best friend, confident, lover, philosophical dreamer, lifelong partner, or whatever is on that never ending list. Your significant other is the person you want to share a life with and follow your dreams simultaneously with. They will inherently understand you, respect you, and want the same life goals as you. You’re going to need a whole tribe for everything which takes us to #3.
#3 Create your tribe: They say it takes a community to raise a child so we believe it takes a tribe to raise an adult. You are the result of the top 5 people you spend the most time with, and with time being so precious, choosing those people is crucial to your overall mental and physical health. We talked about finding your tribe but for your list it’s great to seek out people who are in a similar position to you, or ones that are where you are striving to be as an inspiration. Having people in your life that push you and support you will help make this life much more fun.
#4 Fire up those neurons: The neurons are like trees that have beautiful leafy branches stemming off them when we are young. Unfortunately as we get older, these branches start to wilt and some even die and fall off UNLESS we use them. The best way to fire them up and stimulate new growth is to learn a musical instrument or learn a language. It’s a difficult concept for our brain and the effort required is what fires up those trees to be sustainable and grow. Plus it gives you a great excuse to travel!
#5 Travel somewhere you find a little uncomfortable: We’d all like to spend time on a European holiday relaxing in the sunshine with not a care in the world. While those holidays are great, it’s also good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a holiday that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. It can be somewhere with a different culture, a different language, or maybe just a different timezone but in any case, it’s somewhere that will help you to develop a cultural awareness and give you personal growth. Ideas include spending time meditating in India, or volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! We’re not saying find somewhere unsafe, just something that pushes you a little outside your comfort zone; that’s where the magic happens.
#6 Start saving and pay off your debt: In the day and age of credit cards it seems all too easy to just buy things that you can’t afford “right now” in the hope/anticipation that you will get the money in the future. Some of the most successful people have cut up their credit cards and live ONLY off what they have in the bank. Having debt on a credit card not only puts you behind the eight ball for future savings but it acts like a constant dark cloud of any spending. Work out a 1 month, 6 month, 12 month plan of paying off the debt and then start to put away savings each week for something in your longer term plans. It’s amazing what just a little bit now adds up to.
#7 Find an interesting hobby: Do you have a hobby at the moment? You’d be one of the few. It’s amazing to talk to people who HAVE a hobby compared to those who don’t. The passion and flow of conversation that a hobby can create is contagious and extremely attractive. It could be something extravagant like sailing, or something simple like cooking. In either case, it’s something that inspires you and drives you to learn.
#8 Learn how to cook: You don’t have to be on Masterchef but learning how to cook can change your life. Not only will your finances be much better off if you’re not having weeknight dinners out and brunches every Saturday but you’ll know what’s going into the foods you’re eating and be in a greater position to meet your health goals. Plus, doing a cooking class or course is a fun outing to do with friends!
#9 Complete a sporting event: This doesn’t have to just be for the fitness fanatics out there! There are LOTS of sporting events available for any level from a 5km fun run to an ironman triathlon. Participating in a sporting event gives you a goal to work towards and also provides a great personal sense of achievement when you complete it. Once you start, it often creates the momentum for bigger and better ones in the future and you can introduce some fun competition with others to get involved.
#10 Give your time: Purpose and passion are two of the greatest traits that we are all in search of. While it’s not possible for us all to have our dream job that means we wake up looking forward to Monday’s, we can however determine what happens during our own time. Volunteering your time for a cause near and dear to you will heighten your own sense of worth but also provide an invaluable asset to those in need. Even better, make it a regular occurrence; do it once a week, a month, or even a year.
This list goes fundamentally to your self development to help you to be a better person not only for others, but also for yourself. If we stop growing, we die, both in the physical and the mental sense. So keep striving for better.
Wrapping up the month on synchronicity and listening to your intuition, we’ve secured yogi Nicole Belliveau from the Byron Yoga Centre to take us through her little tips and tricks. Nicole started yoga at a young age now is a host and teacher at the Byron Yoga Centre. She also trained as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and is passionate about all things health and wellness.
So let’s get into the interview!
Nicole can you tell us a little about your background and how you wound up at the Byron Yoga Centre?
I am a Canadian who grew up with an active lifestyle but poor quality food. Somewhere in the transition from mcnuggets to quinoa, I took a leap and studied Holistic Nutrition. While learning about food science and the healing benefits of whole foods, real transformation happened. Now as a Holistic Nutritionist, I have a much healthier relationship with food and nourish myself with an organic plant-based diet.
I started practicing yoga at a young age almost 10 years ago. It started off as another form of physical exercise but slowly I started to feel the benefits on deeper levels. On my mat was the first time I truly connected with myself. It is where a lot of my healing and self-love happens.
In January 2016, I arrived at the Byron Yoga Centre to study and become a yoga teacher. After the course finished, I asked to volunteer for a few weeks to soak in all the knowledge I gained and the beauty of the centre. Over a year later, I still haven’t left! I now have the privilege to be one of the Retreat Hosts; I teach some yoga classes and wellness workshops, ensure the retreats run smoothly and most importantly that the guests are happy and relaxed. I feel blessed every day to be in a position that allows me to grow in a healthy environment surrounded by like-minded people.
Wow what a journey to end up there permanently. It’s funny how life takes us to the places we need. How do you keep balanced and centred with so much going on? What’s your secret tip?
I don’t have one specific tip but rather a combination of habits that make up a healthy lifestyle that invites vitality and clarity to take the best step forward. I make an effort to eat nutrient-dense living foods, practice meditation and yoga, ensure adequate sleep, spend time in nature and fill my mind with content that inspires me to be and live better. Some days I slip off the health wagon but i’ve learned to accept this and not be too hard on myself. Reminding myself what I am grateful for, to breathe deeply and be present helps me stay positive and get back on track.
It’s nice to know that even yogi’s can fall off the bandwagon – makes us mere mortals feel a little better! We’re talking a lot about synchronicity and intuition this month. That can include things like finding your own tribe with similar interests, listening to what your body needs for nutrition, choosing the movement exercises that work for you, and finding time for yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about how you have tapped into your intuition?
For me, tapping into our intuition is connecting to our true self, in the present and using it to guide our thoughts and actions. When we are aligned with this inner wisdom, it is easier to recognize what will serve our highest good and purpose. Our intuition always speaks to us but sometimes there are distractions that get in the way.
When I feel disconnected, I make an effort to get out of my head to reduce the noise it creates and get more into my heart. Often this takes place with eyes closed, breathing deeply, focusing on my heart space on my mat, immersed in nature or reading with a lit candle and herbal tea. Books such as Rebecca Campbell’s Light is the New Black and Caroline Myss’s Anatomy of the Spirit, have helped me see the world in a whole new light and tap into parts of myself I didn’t know existed.
Getting out of the “should” mentality and more into exploring how I truly want to feel, helps to gain clarity and be in the flow of life. I also find that when I let myself write organically in my journal, I connect to what I need to be reminded of. To stay true to my authenticity, I will add that I am still working on all of this. The more I practice these rituals, the more I spend time in connection with my intuition and synchronicity happens.
It seems like continuing to learn and grow is so important for all of us. So from a yogi’s point of view, what are the best ways to being open to and listening to your own intuition?
Patanjali’s Yoga sutras teach us to apply the principles of Ashtanga (8 limbs). Included in these steps are how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, compassion for self and others, self-discipline, mindfulness, pranayama (breath exercises), meditation, asana and eventually for some, enlightenment. His teachings are very in depth but some key points are mindfulness, deep breathing, reflecting before reacting, and moving the body to eliminate stagnant energy. When the limbs are practiced, openness and intuition can flow with ease.
That point you made about the “should” mentality is a trap many of us fall into! We need to really disassociate ourselves with that and focus on what we really want. So finally Nicole what would be your top three tips for a corporate worker trying to align themselves with their future goals and vision?
1. CLARITY: For true alignment to happen, the goals need to be in sync with our true desires. Once we get clear on how we want to feel, we can use this as our compass rather than what we “should” be going for. Having clarity on HOW to reach the vision is also essential to achieving the goals. There is something powerful about writing on paper our goals and the actions step necessary to make them happen. Being realistic, taking it one step at a time and writing a date to have them accomplished by will help the transition towards the end goals.
2. PERSONAL GROWTH: “To have more than you’ve got, become more than you are” –Jim Rohn. By investing in ourselves with books, podcasts, documentaries and people that stimulate us to grow and change our mindsets, our lives change radically. Happiness is an inside gig – Our perceptions, thoughts and beliefs are what shape our lives. By changing our internal world, the outside world becomes aligned with our energy and the grass gets greener.
3. SELF-LOVE: To remind ourselves that we are GOOD ENOUGH. To have compassion and kindness towards ourselves along the journey. Even if the process doesn’t go as planned or we make mistakes, all is well. Underlying the actions, there needs to be love and trust. Self-love also includes taking time for ourselves and resting (which is very different to laziness). In our busy go-go-go lives, we need to create balance by slowing down and recharging ourselves. Learning to receive, saying no to the things that do not serve us and putting ourselves first are also part of this loving process.
All points that I need to remind myself of!
Thanks so much for your time Nicole it’s been a pleasure.
Photo credit: Simon Hunter simonhunterphotography.com
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).