Thursday, July 13, 2017

Eat A Rainbow

 Image result for rainbow foods

Colour your world with a plateful of disease-fighting foods by discovering a full spectrum of good-for-you hues.

Apples aren't red by accident. And they're not made that way just to look pretty, either. In nature, beauty always has a reason, and coloured foods can encourage us to eat them (and spread their seeds).

Plant-eating animals can use colour to identify edible materials, and the intensity of the colour signifies ripeness. But scientists have also found that those pigments are created by a group of highly beneficial anti-oxidants called carotenoids, which mop up harmful free radicals in the body. Red and yellow hues signifying the presence of carotenoids are nature's advertisement for immune-boosting, cancer-fighting properties.

The Dieticians' Association of Australia (DAA) recommends five servings of vegetables and two of fruit each day, while the Australian Department of Health's Guide To Healthy Eating advises that 40 per cent of your daily diet should consist of fruit and vegetables.

You also need variety, including each of these colour groups daily: red, orange, green, yellow, blue/purple and white. Mix as many hues as possible with every meal. The deeper the colour, the higher the nutrient value. "The most crucial colours of all are green and orange," says Katherine Warth, dietician and spokeswoman for DAA. "Never go without either ... and try a new food each week to boost variety even more."

Signal for: Lycopene
Find it in: Tomatoes, persimmon, watermelon, pink grapefruit

This carotenoid is a fierce cancer-fighter and can also help prevent heart disease by inhibiting the formation of harmful LDL cholesterol. The deeper the red or pink colour, the higher the lycopene content. Says Warth, "Studies have shown that a high intake of tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer quite significantly."

Lycopene can also protect against cancers of the digestive tract, stomach and lungs. It's a fat-soluble substance, and is more readily available from cooked tomato products and juices than raw ones. "It's better to cook your tomatoes with a little olive oil, or at least mix them into a salad with some oil on it so that your body can best absorb the lycopene," says Warth.

Signal for: Beta-carotene
Find it in: Oranges, carrots, mangoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, apricots, squash, rockmelon, pawpaw

Beta-carotene is a major anti-oxidant which lowers cholesterol and converts it to vitamin A, an immune booster that helps fight off colds, flu, cystitis and skin problems. "A study of smokers showed that those who ate more beta-carotene had a lower incidence of lung cancer," says Warth. She adds that this was true only when the beta-carotene was acquired from food, not a supplement.

Vegetables containing beta-carotene benefit from being cooked lightly to release maximum amounts. Like lycopene, it's fat soluble, so using a little oil will help your body absorb it. These orange fruits and vegies are also high in that other great immune-booster, vitamin C.

Signal for: Isothiocyanates, folic acid
Find them in: Cruciferous vegetables (the cabbage family), spinach, bok choy, kale, peas, artichokes, asparagus

Sulphur-based sinigrin, a substance unique to the cabbage family (which includes brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), converts into anti-oxidant isothiocyanates, which cause pre-cancerous cells to destroy themselves.

Isothiocyanates give broccoli and brussels sprouts their distinctive smell, but the more pungent and strongly flavoured they are, the better, says Warth. Also present is folic acid, which is in its highest quantity in chlorophyll-rich dark-green leafy vegetables.

Folate works to prevent birth defects, such as spina bifida, and is a dietary essential for women who are (or are trying to become) pregnant.

Signal for: Lutein, zeaxanthin
Find them in: Yellow corn, bananas, yellow capsicum, honeydew melon

These two carotenoids work together to help maintain sharp, healthy eyesight. They are used in the area of the retina called the macula, which is the centre for sharp, focused vision. They protect the eyes from long-term light damage. We need to eat about 5mg of lutein and 1mg of zeaxanthin every day for adequate eyesight protection, so it's vital to include a large splash of yellow.

Bananas are worth a special mention for their high potassium content. They can help decrease the risk of stroke, lower blood pressure, relieve heartburn, prevent stomach ulcers and even aid in abating diarrhoea.

Signal for: Anthocyanins
Find them in: Blueberries, dark cherries, prunes, blackcurrants, cranberries, red wine, red apples, black grape juice, blackberries, strawberries, beetroot, figs

The blueberry is a tiny hero. It contains more anti-oxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. Anthocyanins have remarkable anti-bacterial powers, useful for tackling E coli, urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal upsets. They're also anti-inflammatory, which is why blackcurrant syrups are used in cold and throat medicine.

The anti-oxidants in purple or blue fruits help prevent nerve cells in the brain from deteriorating, and possibly help guard against the effects of ageing in general. Anthocyanins may also have a beneficial effect on heart disease by inhibiting blood clots.

Signal for: Flavonoids, allicin
Find them in: Onions, garlic, celery, leeks, pears, shallots, white wine, endive, chives

Allicin has been shown to inhibit abnormal cell growth, and flavonoids are important anti-oxidants. The sulphur compounds in these types of produce can help raise levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol and lower dangerous levels of blood fats called triglycerides, as well as easing the inflammatory response of asthma and breaking up catarrh secretions caused by colds and flu.

Pears stand out because, although they have white flesh, they are covered by green skin. Just beneath the skin lies a soluble fibre called pectin, says Anne Egan, dietician and co-author of Meals That Heal (Rodale Press, $55). Pectin can help prevent haemorrhoids, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Motivation In Two Forms

You've heard me say many times that motivation is a myth, that nobody is motivated all the time and that we just have to make the decision to make the change that makes the difference.

Well, that is true... to an extent.

We've all felt that exhilarating burst of energy that motivates and inspires us into action.

Whether it's making a call we know we need to get over & done with, or the call we've been looking forward to.

We're either scared or excited, and those two feelings share a lot in common, physiologically. Our interpretation is key. 

Sometimes it's just a matter of reframing to use our energy states to achieve the results we want.

Which brings me to how motivation works, in its two forms - Away From and Towards.

We are either motivated to move away from a troubling or painful situation or towards a sought-after or rewarding situation. They both serve a purpose and have their benefits.
Once you get clear on your "why", you can nail your "what".

Weight loss is one I hear a lot from clients; they were significantly overweight and they took steps to lose weight but as they got closer to their goal, they just didn't seem to have the motivation they started with.

Other clients started with a heath & fitness, rather than a weight loss, goal and they seemed to power on through from one goal to the next.

This is how Away From and Towards motivation works: when you're moving AWAY from pain & whatever it is you DON'T want, the further you get from it, the more comfortable you feel.

Almost like you're feet are far enough from the fire that you can relax, you don't have to do the work any more.

Away From motivation is a great way to START whatever changes you're looking to make.

You are really clear about what you don't want, but it's ultimately a negative motivation and lasting change takes more than that.

Towards motivation is the goal you have in your mind, your heart & your soul.

It drives you onwards even when you've made good progress because it's a shining, positive motivator even on days when you don't feel like it.
It literally pulls you towards your goal!

You may start out wanting to change your current health situation but what will keep you going once you've made those changes, is the thought of feeling even better, moving well when you're older & avoiding some of the common pitfalls of aging, like falls & immobility.

The other major benefit of Towards motivation is that it encourages you rather than criticises you, it brings you along rather than punishes you, it helps you rather than hurts you.

It really is the only way to maintain a kind, self-caring & consistent approach to your goals.

Being kind to yourself is about doing the good stuff, even when you don't feel like it.

Because you are so very worth it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Working it out

Talking with a dear friend the other day, we got on to the topic of work & how she's unhappy in her current role. She's not sure what else she would want to do and we explored some possibilities.

It got me thinking about the fairly modern expectation that we should all be excited, inspired & fulfilled to go to work each day and if that's not the case, maybe there's a problem.

Some people's work involves doing things they are very good at and get paid well for.
By viewing this situation as a chance to use & develop skills and to allow them to have the means to enjoy the other aspects of their lives (holidays, dinners out, Nice Things), they don't 'suffer through' each day.

I'm very fortunate to do a job I love and be able to live a good life doing it. I get to help people live healthier, more energetic lives and can pay my rent & bills doing so.

But there's also the back end of work - the paperwork, marketing, shameless self promotion (even when I'm not feeling it) and other admin that is not fun but is so very necessary.

Work is called work for a reason. It takes effort.
Even when we don't 'feel like it'.

Motivation is a myth. Nobody is motivated all the time but we do what is necessary to create the conditions we would like in our lives.

I bet you're not motivated to brush your teeth each morning but (I hope) you do it, because you want to avoid the consequences of failing to do it.

Workouts are the same, they never get easier, you just get stronger.
And then I take you to the next level (you're welcome) or I'm not doing my job.

Growth doesn't come from the shiny, happy, easy stuff.
Growth comes from pain & discomfort.

Sometimes it's necessary to get a little uncomfortable to make changes that are beneficial and necessary.

You don't have to spend a lot of time taking care of your health, you just have to do the little things that make a big difference over time.

And I'm here to help.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Being Kind to Ourselves

I use this phrase a lot when I work with people who want to make long-term, sustainable changes in their life, the kind of changes that will dramatically alter their health and their future.

They often interpret this to mean they don’t have to live up to their health commitments, that they can go off-track and sabotage their food & exercise prescription simply because they “ didn't feel like it” or were “having a bad day”.

This is entirely opposite of what I mean.

Being kind to yourself, really taking good care of yourself, starts with a decision that is not negotiable and a willingness to be realistic about what is good for you.

Imagine: you've had a really stressful day at work, your boss is cranky at you, co-workers are being more difficult than usual and you have a splitting headache on the way home from work. 

Dinner consisting entirely of chocolate and cheese, possibly wine, and staying up late to zone out in front of the television may seem like an easy option. “ I've had an awful day,” you tell yourself, “I deserve some pleasure, I can’t be bothered doing anything else.”

So you eat some non-nutritional food and flake out on the couch. Your headache feels worse, you feel sluggish and tired but instead of going to bed, you stay up too late watching television, exacerbating your tiredness.

Imagine that this is your child, or your best friend.

Would you deliberately ignore their needs, or make excuses for why you wouldn't help them feel as good as possible, especially under difficult circumstances?

I bet you wouldn't.

Imagine: you've had a really stressful day at work, your boss is cranky at you, co-workers are being more difficult than usual and you have a splitting headache on the way home from work.

“ I've had an awful day,” you tell yourself, “so I’m going to make sure I drink plenty of water when I get home. I’ll make myself a quick vegetable omelette and I’ll make sure I get an early night.”

The first scenario may seem like the easiest option, and by certain criteria it may be, but since when has easy meant better. 

The second option means you actually change your situation for the better. 

You contribute to your health rather than detracting from it. 

You actually meet your real needs, rather than giving in to what it is you think you want.

Making your life a little easier the next day and helping yourself to feel better - THAT is being kind. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Honour Your Body, Your Life, Your Self.

Dr Karl is on Triple J this week with a guest, talking about the science of weight loss & this is a topic close to my heart.

You may not know this but I used to have an eating disorder & probably a fair bit of associated body dysmorphia (when you have a distorted view of how your body looks).

When I was in high school, I learned to be bulimic; other girls showed me how you could throw up after eating to not gain weight. I thought it was a magical formula until I found myself living a miserable life. Then I started to make the changes that made the difference to save my life.

This, combined with my Mum being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes around the age I am now (early 40’s) made me sit up & take note of my health.

I did not want to follow in my Mum’s health-footsteps.

It didn’t happen immediately, but I started on the path that has led me to become a Fitness Trainer & Health Educator.

I know how it feels to not want to exercise, to complain about working out, and when I was training to be a trainer, I still remember the time where I actually started to enjoy working out.

That feeling of “yeah!” after a workout has stayed with me and once you get that, you don’t want to give it up.

Now I’m glad I went through that process because I empathise with clients who do the same. Although now I allow them to bring their ‘don’t want to’s’ and complaints, (they can even swear a lot), but they still do the workouts.
And they feel so much better at the end.

I also remember the point in my life where I realised I was choosing exactly what I wanted, so why couldn’t I choose what was good for me.
So I did.

I started eating better and actually enjoying it, moving more & feeling great for it.

When I had my son 11 years ago, I put on 40kg. Four Zero.

It was no mystery, I ate EVERYTHING, and then I ate theirs. When I had a 3.6kg baby, I had to take stock and decide; did I want to keep these extra kilos that made me feel so uncomfortable?
Was this related to my eating disorder so many years ago?

I made a conscious decision to love my body, to fuel it well & to exercise. If my body never returned to its previous state then so be it, but I was damn sure I would do everything possible to treat myself well & be happy with the outcome.

A lot changes in a woman’s body after children & we are so exposed to unrealistic images in the media (celebrities don’t even look like they do in the magazines!!).

So what if our bodies aren’t the same as pre-kids?
Are we going to be miserable for the rest of our lives?
Missing out on all the joy & richness in our lives?

A flat stomach is not an achievement.
A life well-lived, full of love, adventure, curiosity & laughter, sure is.

I want that for you.
If you have never exercised or unsure about how to start, please get in touch.
I'm here to help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wisdom of the Elders

I attended a beautiful funeral service this week to honour a man who spent his 90 years on this planet creating a wonderful legacy; his family.
He was my partner’s grandfather and although I had only known him in the last couple of years of his life, he welcomed me & my son into the family as though we had been there forever.
Despite his deteriorating health, he still loved coming out to family dinner every Sunday night and was always interested in what the kids (his great-grandchildren) had been up to and what was new in his (now adult) grandchildren’s lives.
I had more than a few opportunities to chat with this lovely man about his past and I recall him telling me how he built the house he & his wife lived in for over 50 years. He was 25 at the time.
I was super-impressed by this and told him so. With modesty typical of his generation, he was a little surprised that I considered this a notable achievement.
“But Pa”, I said, “some 25 years old these days can barely function as adults in the world, let alone build their own house!” He considered this and quietly acknowledged that perhaps it was an achievement, but certainly not one to brag about.
(Can I tell you, if I BUILT MY OWN HOUSE, I would be writing that in fairy lights across the front of the building!!!)
I never knew my grandparents & am acutely aware of the power, wisdom & love they can have in our lives & the lives of future generations.
There are so many lessons & much wisdom from the elders in our families & wider circles, even if some of it is never spoken aloud. Look for the lessons, then do your very best to live them.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself

I came across the work of Patricia Lynn Reilly many years ago & her poem, Imagine A Woman In Love With Herself, resonated so deeply with me that I return to both the poem & the meditations when I need a reminder of unconditional self-regard, to embrace wholeness rather than perfection.

I shared this poem several years ago and found it resonated with women (and men) who had never heard it before and over the coming weeks, I will re-share it with you.

I especially love reading this poem out loud because the stanzas that hold the most meaning can be the most difficult to speak aloud, but the process of doing this is powerful & working through the accompanying meditations is transformative.

Patricia Lynn Reilly writes in her Introduction, “our beloved planet is in desperate need of women who have moved from self-loathing to self-love, from self-criticism to self-celebration. Women who design woman-affirming solutions to the challenges confronting human kind as it enters the 21st century. Women who use their personal and communal resources to give birth to images of inclusion, poems of truth, rituals of healing, experiences of transformation, relationships of equality and households of compassion. Women full of themselves!”

Isn’t that wonderful?

For the next month, enjoy this fabulous poem, delight in each stanza & if you find one that especially resonates with you, get in touch & I’ll send you the accompanying meditation.

I’m putting together a workshop based on the poem; if you’re interested, please get in touch.

Be full of your Self!

Big love,