August 13, 2018
It’s really hard to know how you’re going with your health goals if we think beyond the typical weight loss measures of kilos on the scale or centimetres on the tape measure. Tracking your progress is one of the best ways to keep you accountable, plus provides a good motivator for smaller goals that are achieved along the way.
We often find with our clients that the scales and weight loss may not be shifting, despite consistent exercise and clean balanced eating. Unfortunately, health is not as simple as calories in and calories out, with elements like sleep, stress, a sense of purpose, confidence, and of course happiness all playing a part in contributing to our health.
The figures from the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) tell a clear story, with the Centre establishing that human wellbeing is the single most important issue for our population, economy and way of life. In other words, we can’t afford to leave wellbeing to the individual only anymore if we are to create a thriving society and country. Mental illness alone costs the Australian economy $190 billion each year, or 12% of GDP! This is the equivalent of nine million days of work every year.
High performing workplaces have been found to have significant competitive advantages compared to their peers such as:
Up to three times more profitable
25% more innovative
23% better at retraining new employees
12% more productive
The research shows that if an organisation is not looking at wellbeing, then you won’t have great productivity, will lack innovation, and you won’t be an employer of choice.
Corporations are starting to acknowledge the role that they play on employees’ health, and overall there is a move towards dealing with our health proactively rather than reactively. Employee wellbeing has previously been seen by many as too subjective and obscure to have any tangible ROI or measurable way to demonstrate the effectiveness of programs targeting this.
Introducing an index which measures key elements of overall employee experience, which can be benchmarked to other industries and tracked over time, not only allows workforces to be better equipped to have effective wellness initiatives, but also empowers employees to take personal responsibility with their health, supported by their employer.
At EBM, we created a new index for measuring overall wellbeing in the corporate space. The creation of this index went through a rigorous research process (we won’t bore you with the details!) but allows you to compare your individual scores, industry scores, and compared to the broader corporate Australia rating. All in a quick 5 minute survey! You can see our model that includes four sub-indexes for the key categories.
If you’re interested in getting your own score or getting your organisation involved, email us to find out more!
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._
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!
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
Last week we focused on prevention for this upcoming cold and flu season. This week, we’re looking at what to do if the cold does break through all those barriers that you’ve set up.
It takes double the effort – sometimes literally – and should be approached like any other physical challenge; with vigour! While it may seem like a lot of effort and potentially the last thing you feel like doing when sick, its worth it to reduce the severity and the length of a virus.
Here are the top 10 things you can do when a cold starts to break through:
1. Double the Vitamins. We spoke about the best vitamins and herbal remedies last week and now is the time to double them. Double the dose of Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea to really give your immunity the best shot at fighting off the virus. Even if you feel knocked down by the cold, pumping the body with vitamins is one of the best ways to give it a chance to get rid of it more quickly.
2. Double the Probiotic. Gut health equates for 80% of your immunity, so it makes sense that to get the gut in tip top shape will help your immunity. Double the dose of your probiotic to twice a day – once before breakfast and the other just before bed – to give your body an extra hit of good bacteria to fight off the bad. Colds turn nasty when they turn bacterial (which is when you often need antibiotics!) so fighting off the bad bacteria with the strains of good bacteria found in a probiotic is a great combat mechanism.
3. Get the Best Shut Eye. We’ve raved on about the benefits of sleep but when you’re sick, your body needs even more to recover and recuperate. Up the nightly sleeps to 9-11 hours (yes you read that right!) and allow the body to take naps throughout the day (until about 5pm otherwise you will find it difficult to fall asleep!) as the body feels necessary. Remember, we’re all about learning to listening to our bodies this month, so if it needs the rest, give it.
4. Build up Your Magnesium. This primarily relates to #3 in getting a better sleep, because when we’re sick it’s often harder to get good quality rest. Magnesium is a great natural mineral to take to help aid your sleep. Take one dose 10-20 minutes before bed. You can also buy it in oil form, and rub it into the body to help relieve those aches and pains often associated with a virus.
5. Remember to Breathe. When you’re all blocked up in the nose it often means that we’re not getting enough oxygen to the rest of the body. If it’s a chesty cold, it can also force us to take shorter and more shallow breaths. One of the best ways to open up the airways is to inhale eucalyptus oil. You can put it in a diffuser to keep it in your room at night, or just put a few drops on a tissue or handkerchief while you sleep. Being able to sleep freely throughout the night makes a huge difference to the speed of recovery.
6. Drink Up. You know the benefits of hydrating generally but you need extra water to flush out the toxins when you are unwell. Herbal (decaffeinated) teas are also great and very soothing for a sore throat. Without sufficient moisture in the body, immune system cells can’t work optimally. You should need to go to the bathroom every couple of hours and it should be clear.
7. Up the Antioxidants. There are some particular foods that are great at fighting off colds so adding them to every meal is great to not only boost immunity long-term, but to also to reduce the severity of the cold. The key staples are garlic, onions, turmeric, and salt. The anti-microbial properties of garlic and its relative the onion can fight off bacteria and viruses. Turmeric’s power comes from the fact that it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, while salt is great for reducing swelling and mucus. The best way to have them?
8. Make a Batch of Chicken Soup. It’s true what they say; a batch of chicken soup now has scientific backing in helping the common cold. The most widely cited research, published in the medical journal Chest in 2000, is by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. They found that chicken soup inhibits the migration of these infecteda cells in the body, meaning it essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. It seems to be the combination of vegetables and the chicken that has this effect. You can throw in any vegetables that you can think of – the more the better!
9. De-stress. Having to take time off work because we’re sick can seem impossible and overwhelming for the subsequent catch-up. However, reducing that stress is essential to allow the body time to heal. Meditation is one of the best ways to de-stress (learn more about HOW to here) and will have an impact on your recovery. University of Wisconsin researchers found mindfulness meditation training reduced the incidence, duration and severity of a cold by 35 – 60%!
10. Keep Up the Prevention. Your immune system has taken a blow with this virus and is going to be much weaker now making you more susceptible than usual to other colds and flus going around. Don’t just give up at the first sign of feeling better, keep up the maintenance and re-strengthen your immunity.
A virus is NEVER fun, but it is an excuse to do nothing. It’s a clear sign from your body that it needs rest and recovery time so don’t be afraid to listen.
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!
Ever feel like you’re the odd one out of your tribe? Like you are trying to grow and develop yourself everyday, week, and month, and no one is there with you? You may have started (or mastered) meditating, you exercise consistently every week, and you’re eating the best foods to fuel your body.
Your tribe are the people you spend the majority of your time with – your family, your friends, your partner. These people have the biggest impact on your habits, lifestyle, and quality of life. If you are not synchronised with them, then it can make you feel a little out of whack.
For example, research has shown that obesity has become a ‘socially contagious’ disease, spreading among people like a virus. In married couples, when one spouse becomes obese, the risk to the other increases by 37%. Among siblings, the risk is 40%. And it’s worse among friends – for casual friends the risk raises by 57%; for close friends, the risk almost triples (see more on this here).
So what do you do about this? How can you get your tribe synchronised to your ideal lifestyle?
1. Lead by example. Just because your tribe aren’t eating kale, running marathons, and meditation gurus doesn’t mean they can’t be (or a more realistic version!). Share with them the benefits that you are feeling from your own healthy habits. Tell them how much more energy you have, calmer you feel, lighter you are. If obesity is contagious, so are healthy habits, so it can work both ways.
Encourage and invite them to try the healthy habits with you. Instead of going to a burger place for dinner, take them to a healthier option. Replace a morning coffee with a walk. Crowd out mindlessly watching TV or a movie with a guided meditation that you can do together.
There are lots of options out there that you already know about (and are possibly already doing!) and you can act as your tribe’s own coach to spread the good vibes.
2. Change your tribe. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. If #1 fails, it may be time to take a hard look at your tribe. While you can’t choose your family, you can certainly choose your life partner and your friends.
Clara* is a prime example of consciously choosing her tribe. She moved to Sydney and got caught up in a group (and a partner) that prioritised partying and drinking over meditation and smoothies and she felt the impact it was having on her own quality of life. So she proactively started seeking out activities that she wanted to do for herself. It was here that she found her new tribe and her life was turned around.
While finding new friends or a new partner can seem overwhelming, you don’t have to leave the old ones behind immediately. Just start to venture into new activities (you can even try #1 again with some of your friends!) and see where the universe takes you.
3. Run your own race. At the end of the day, this is your life. You decide how you want it to be. If you believe that you can make the healthy choices on your own despite the fact that your partner wants to order a burger and fries, then do it.
There are people who can make their own decisions and not be influenced by those around them. If you’re happy to have a healthy meal while your nearest and dearest are having burger and fries then you run your own race!
So learn to love your tribe or leave them. Either way, make the decision that is right for you, your health, and your happiness!
*Name changed for confidentiality.
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).
The world has become a pretty unstable and unsettling place at the moment – Donald Trump is in charge of the most powerful country in the world, the UK is in negotiation to leave the rest of the EU, and war continues to rage in the Middle East. One sitting of the news and you’re likely to walk away feeling more down than when you started.
In a time where we’re experiencing the highest standard of living in history, paradoxically we’re also more depressed, anxious and unhappy.
First things first, we need to take care of ourselves. I’m not saying this out of selfishness, or from a ‘every man from himself’ perspective. I’m talking about learning to create happiness and peace from within that can radiate onto others and create a ripple effect. There’s a reason they get you to fit your own oxygen mask on a plane before others – you won’t be able to get someone else’s mask on if you’re not breathing!
So here are the top 6 things that you need to be doing for yourself regularly in 2017. I’m not saying that these things will change the world, but they will definitely help YOU to feel happier, healthier and a more altruistic human.
1. Breathe. It’s amazing how many people aren’t breathing to its full potential. I used to be one of them. I used to just keep all the oxygen in my chest, and not expand the breath into my diaphragm and lower abdomen. When you start to breathe diaphragmatically, the PNS system (learn more on this here) is switched on, and your body starts to relax. It’s great to mindfully breathe like this first thing in the morning and last thing at night before you go to sleep for about five minutes. This will help you to subconsciously breathe like this throughout the day as well. It’s amazing what 5 minutes of deep breathing can do for your mental and physical health!
2. Fuel your body. It’s easy to forget that the reason we eat is to provide fuel to the body. The balance between eating for pleasure and eating for survival has swung considerably to the former and this is having ramifications. Try to make at least one meal a day focused on fuelling for nutrition. Eat nutrient dense foods – like fruits and vegetables – and try and eat as close to the natural source as possible. Processing of foods has changed considerably, and it’s hard to know what’s been added when you can’t understand the ingredients!
3. Move more. Unless you’re an ultra athlete, we could ALL do with more movement. Our sedentary lifestyle has us sitting down more than ever. Unfortunately, one hour of intentional exercise has been shown as not enough to combat the effects of sitting at a desk all day. So we need to start integrating movement throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to/from work or a portion of the journey, or go for walking meetings instead of sit down coffees. Do whatever it takes to make that magic 10,000 step number. It’s not in any way easy, but it’s very rewarding for your body.
4. Learn to meditate. If there is only ONE thing that you do this year, learn to meditate. There are yoga studios and meditation centres popping up everywhere, and plenty of resources online that can teach you the fundamentals – I have even made a recording for you here. If you’re already meditating, make it a goal to foster your practice. I could go on and on about the benefits of meditation (and I do so here) but for the sake of this blog, just realise that meditation is one of THE BEST forms of self-care out there. It takes as little as 5 minutes a day, and it can be life changing. Trust me on this one.
5. Embrace minimalism. I have blogged on this already (and will probably continue to!) and it seems to be quite an emerging theme for me (and plenty of others) in 2017. It seems that an excess of ‘stuff’ is manifesting our discontent, and there is no end in sight in the hunt for something new. Cleanout your wardrobe (learn how to here) or de-clutter your office space. Just spend time over the next year clearing the physical to allow the mental space for growth.
6. Sleep. At the end of the day it can feel like there’s just not enough time to do any of those self-care activities. I wouldn’t blame you for telling me so! The proverbial ‘to do list’ continues to grow, and despite the number of items we tick off, it never seems to end. One thing you CAN do that doesn’t require an extra item on the to do list is to sleep. I mean, force yourself at least 7-9 hours of sleep EVERY NIGHT. I can hear you groaning through your computer “who has that much time to sleep?”. The change makers do and so do you. The plane and oxygen analogy is most pertinent here. You will be so much more productive, have so much more energy, be capable of achieving so much more in less time, IF you get more sleep. Try it for a week and see what happens…
Now this may seem like a lot but even if you just pick ONE of these things to do this year, the transformation may just surprise you.