There are so many ingredients that our ancestors (and probably most people today!) wouldn’t recognise… Even so called ‘health products’ like muesli bars and cereals are full of artificial ingredients and products like milk (which is considered by many to be a whole food), which have been highly processed by pasteurisation and homogenisation, processes which damage the structure, reduce the nutrition content and increase problems for digestive health.
Some might see these processes as signs of progress that give us an abundance of foods that are ready to eat but when you consider that the average American eats approximately his or her own body weight in food additives each year or about 70kg (which is about the same for most English speaking countries), we need to seriously question current food practices. Most of these processes are about shelf life, appearance and storage to maximise profits and have nothing at all to do with nutritional value or improving your health!
What’s the long-term impact of these processes on our health? Let’s look at just one commonly used preservative that’s found in processed foods – sulphur dioxide – to highlight the problems we face. Sulphur dioxide (220) is used in dried fruit, soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks, beer, wine, sausages, other processed meats, hot chips, instant mash potato and prawns. It’s been shown to provoke asthma and skin rashes, especially in young children, destroys Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and folic acid in the body and has been associated with an estimated 15 asthma deaths in the US between 1983 and 1985. This is just one ingredient – what other long-term effects do we not know about? And how do artificial ingredients react in combination and when they’re heated in cooking?
The problem gets compounded when you consider that foods today also contain many unseen herbicides and pesticide residues. One study in New Zealand tested a typical school lunch of a primary school student – in one meal which consisted of a sausage, a tomato and a white bread roll with butter and an apple, they found 19 toxic chemicals and 3 of these were over 10 times the recommended limits for adults! The chemicals included known endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, reproductive disruptors and genetic and immune system disruptors.
If pesticides and herbicides are not a problem today then why do studies show consistently that farmers have a higher risk of developing lymphomas, leukemias, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, brain and skin?This is despite the fact that a farmer’s lifestyle is generally much healthier than that of someone who lives in the city – they have access to fresh food, breather cleaner air and are much more physically active.
So how do I shop to maximise health and nutrition and to avoid processed foods, additives and pesticides?
Here are some simple tips:
Cutting right back on processed foods and choosing organics where possible will really make the difference to your health, and you will feel and look fantastic when you stick to the foods that nature intended you to have!
To your health,
Usually when I talk of adding variety to get great results, I’m referring to exercise. It’s long been known that you get the best results with your fitness by constantly keeping your body guessing with different exercises and training techniques but the important principle of variety also applies to nutrition. If you want to ensure great health it’s really important to focus on increasing the diversity of your food choices.
The good news is that it’s really simple and easy to add some diversity into our diets and this will increase our potential for our health. When we eat a wide variety of foods that are composed of distinct nutritional qualities, we broaden the range of nutrients available to each cell of our body, boosting our immune systems and helping us to combat disease.
Here a few tips to help you add some variety into your diet:
- Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables – by sticking to what is in season, your foods will change as the seasons change ensuring a good level of variety. Seasonal foods are also fresher and will contain more key nutrients then foods that have been transported long distances or kept in cold storage.
- Subscribe to a mixed vegetable and fruit box with a food delivery service (e.g. harvesthub.com.au or lettucedeliver.com.au) – these services vary the produce that you receive and automatically tend to provide seasonal foods that offer the best nutrition and value.
- Commit to trying out one new recipe each week. For some fantastic healthy recipes check out theorganiccook.com.au and http://www.teresacutter.com/
- Start adding variety one meal at a time. Breakfast is probably the best place to work on as this is the meal that most people are on auto-pilot for.
So to summarise, remember that eating the same foods every day equals the same nutrition. Eating poor quality processed foods equals no nutrition (and actually depletes nutrients from the body as they are dealt with by the body). Eating varied healthy foods equals optimal health – and this means that you can get on with enjoying the things that you love to do in life rather than spending time in pain or visiting the doctor!
With that in mind, you still need to apply the 80/20 rule – if you eat well 80% of the time then you can treat yourself 20% of the time – which is why I’ve really enjoyed a variety of Easter eggs over the past weekend!
To your health!
PS If you’re looking for more guidance with your health and nutrition then you’ll love our Equilibrium program where for just $8 per week we will give you varied exercise and nutrition plans, recipes and mindset tools and simple strategies to take your health to that next level. You can check out all the details here.
The truth is we all have habits, for pretty much everything we do actually, because a habit is just a sequence of actions, thoughts or feelings that we ‘do’ on a regular basis to get us a particular result.
Habits can fall into the ‘positive’, resourceful, sustainable, healthy and nurturing bucket, for example, taking daily exercise or active movement in the fresh air, or drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day, or getting to bed before 10pm, or giving your partner and children a loving kiss every time you or they arrive or leave home, or telling yourself ‘I rock!’ every morning and so on…
And then there are the not so positive habits – the ones that fit under the heading of ‘self-sabotage’, or ‘unhealthy’ or ‘unresourceful’… or ‘unsavoury’! Habits (regularly repeated behaviours) and addictions (compulsions to engage in specific activities) like nose-picking, nail-biting, binge drinking, smoking, creating drama, comfort eating, drug taking, giving yourself a hard time, putting yourself down and criticising yourself constantly and so on… The ones where at some point (or on a regular basis) you might say to yourself ‘I wish I could stop doing this…’. Humans really are very creative – we have created endless ways to cause ourselves pain and harm!
So why are some of them so darn persistent? Especially the ones that we want to get rid of or know they’re no good for us??
The theory is that it takes 21 days to create or break a habit, if you do something different on a consistent basis (that’s if your enthusiasm lasts that long), and yet I have assisted clients to get rid of a habit for good in as little as one coaching session.
And it’s not down to my secret voodoo mind tricks. Well, not entirely anyway. It’s about understanding what’s driving the habit and getting courageously honest about its purpose.
Let me explain.
Habits and addictions can be broken into 3 parts:
1. The Cue or Trigger
This is the starting point and it’s what sets the habit in motion. So, seeing your nails on your hand in front of you might be your cue to think ‘Yum! They look tasty!’, or walking in the door when you arrive home from work might be your cue to pour yourself a large glass of wine or something stronger, or having something unexpected happen at home or work might be your personal trigger to find yourself one or many sweet treats to comfort yourself. Once you know your cue you can derail your habit by doing something else at that moment rather than moving to the next step…
2. The Sequence
This refers to the ‘parts’ of the habit – the various components, whether they’re visual (things you see externally or in your mind), auditory (things you hear or say to yourself), or kinesthetic (things you feel against your skin or the actual feelings and emotions you choose). If you think about a habit you do and break it down, as if you had to teach someone else how to do it exactly the way that you do it, you’ll find that you ‘do’ it exactly the same way each time, following a specific sequence. For example, if a parent has a habit of losing their temper with their children at breakfast time, the cue might be one child saying he’s hungry, and the sequence might be the parent then telling themselves ‘great, here we go again, groundhog day’, followed by imagining a picture of the huge list of all the things they have to do today, followed by them having a feeling of exhaustion and depletion, followed by them telling their child to ‘stop whining at me!’! When you interrupt your sequence by doing something, anything different, you’ll lead yourself to new steps and a different results every time. I’ve had clients clap their hands, sing ‘Happy Birthday’, ping themselves with elastic bands and more! It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it isn’t in the original habit sequence!
3. The Payoff
And this is the most important part, because this is the reason why, even if you know you don’t want to do your habit anymore, you’re struggling to stop doing it. The payoff is the reward, the feeling you get from doing your habit. And humans are all about feelings…
Everything we think we want, material or otherwise, we want because of the feeling we believe that having that thing will give us – whether it’s clarity, or achievement, or success, or happiness, or love, or excitement, or abundance, or power or so on!
So the payoff is the feeling we get from doing the habit – the feeling is what we don’t want to give up on an unconscious level. And when you can be honest with yourself about what that feeling is, whether it’s safety or comfort, or self-worth or purpose, or whether it’s keeping you safe from feeling something you don’t want to feel, like failure, or rejection, or loneliness, that’s when your seemingly-unbreakable habit, can become effortlessly easy to stop.
Why? Because all you have to do then is work out whether the payoff is worth the cost (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially etc) of doing the habit, and if not, you can then think of other ways to get that feeling you want via more resourceful and sustainable methods e.g. instead of staying up late and losing sleep to get some ‘me’ time once the kids are in bed, you might like to schedule some time-out where you get a complete break where your partner takes over and looks after the kids for a few hours or even longer. Or instead of having a wine or beer or two or three when you get home to help you unwind after work, you might like to have a shower and listen to a favourite song instead!
Yeah, I know, easier said than done perhaps, but it depends how much you want to change it… And if you’d like some assistance changing a habit or effectively treating an addiction, please just get in touch and we’ll have a no-strings-attached chat or email exchange! I’d love to help you, especially if it means getting you one or more steps closer to getting the health, wellness, happiness and vitality you want!
To your health
And ‘gluten-free’ is a bit of a buzz-word these days but it’s still a mystery to many people. What is gluten? Is it good or bad for you? Why do we need to eat food that is gluten-free? Am I gluten intolerant? Etc… So let me spend a couple of moments clearing up some of the myth and mystery (and then we can get on with the cooking!)…
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein-composite that is found in a number of types of grain – one easy way to remember what to avoid if you’re following a gluten-free diet is by the acronym B.R.O.W – Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat (including kamut and spelt). Gluten can also be used by food manufacturers as a thickener or stabilising agent in foods like ketchup and ice cream.
In terms of today’s hyper-awareness about gluten, the reality is that for hundreds of thousands of years, humans lived primarily on a diet of wild animals and vegetation. It was only with the start of agriculture 6,000 years ago that humans began consuming large quantities of grains e.g. wheat, rice, oats and barley. This might sound like a long time for us to adapt to this diet however humans have been around for a long, long time and research has shown that genetically we’re almost identical to how we were 10,000 years ago. This is why we’re generally not suited to eating these types of grains, some of us more so than others if we’re intolerant to the gluten in grains.
What is Gluten Intolerance and what are the symptoms?
There are basically three types:
Coeliac Disease, diagnosed via a blood-test, where the proteins in gluten trigger your immune system to such an extent that you get to the point where you can’t extract any nutrition from your food, endure leaky gut syndrome, rashes and other serious health problems;
Gluten Intolerance, which has similar symptoms to Coeliac Disease and is believed to affect 5%-10% of the population based on recent research; and
Wheat Allergy, is where there is an allergic reaction to wheat e.g. hives, stomach pain or bloating.
The most common symptoms of an intolerance to gluten are as follows (this is not an exhaustive list) so it’s worth abstaining from gluten for at least a two-week period if you are often affected by any of the symptoms on the list to see if there is an improvement in your health:
Abdominal Bloating, Pain or Cramping
Alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation
Unexplained stomach rumbling
Depression, Anxiety and Irritability
Mouth ulcers or sores
In any case, choosing gluten-free products to replace certain staples e.g. choosing rice or corn pasta instead of your usual wheat pasta, almond and rice flours instead of your usual baking options, gluten-free cereals and breads and other gluten-free products where possible can have a really positive effect on yours and your family’s general health and vitality!
Here are a few recipes to get you started, plus links to some great websites to explore!
Paleo Banana Bread adapted from Elana’s Pantry (this picture is from Elana’s website and it cracks me up – so not how we enjoy this banana bread!
This is a great high-protein snack to enjoy yourself, with guests or pop into your children’s lunch boxes!
3 ripe bananas (about 1 ½ cups) mashed
3 eggs, ideally organic or free range and hormone-free
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw honey
¼ cup coconut oil
2 cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Place bananas, eggs, vanilla, honey and oil in a food processor and pulse the ingredients together. When blended, pulse in the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Scoop the batter into a greased 7.5″ x 3.5″ loaf pan and bake at 350°F/175°C for 55-65 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing.
Primal Hot Cereal from Mark’s Daily Apple (serves 1-2)
This is perfect for these cooler mornings to warm your stomach and your spirit…
½ cup each of almonds and pecans, or experiment with your favourite raw nuts
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until your desired consistency is reached (smooth or chunky!). Warm over the stove (or in a microwave) and serve with fresh berries, sliced banana and more almond or coconut milk if desired.
Lamb Burgers With Pistachio Pesto from Mark’s Daily Apple (serves 4)
These burgers are rich and tasty, and super quick to make, plus the pesto sauce adds a delicious new flavour!
Ingredients for Burgers:
700g minced lamb or beef
1 tsp cumin
¼ teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup each of finely chopped mint leaves and chopped parsley
Ingredients for Pesto:
1 garlic clove
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice if desired
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
pinch of salt
Mix together all of the burger ingredients and form into four patties – pan fry or grill for about 4-6 minutes each side until cooked. While the burgers are cooking, blend together the pesto ingredients in a food processor. Serve the burgers with a fresh salad or steamed greens with the pesto drizzled on top.
Slow-cooked Eggplant With Lentils and Smoky Paprika from Belinda The Organic Cook (serves 2)
A lovely vegetarian warmer…
1 medium eggplant
1 cup brown lentils
2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 cups vegetarian stock (if not vego use beef broth for full flavour)
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 can organic diced tomatoes
Some fresh herbs
In a medium saucepan heat a small amount of organic butter and saute the garlic, gently so it doesn’t burn. Cut the eggplant into 2cm squares and add to garlic, stir around, add the tomatoes, stock and herbs and then stir some more. Add the lentils and smokey paprika and give one more good stir. Cook on a low simmer for 45-50 minutes. Enjoy with bio dynamic brown rice or some fresh spinach leaves!
These are just a few of our favourites so let us know by email or on facebook how you got on!
To your health,
Today the focus is all about alcohol. One of the core philosophies of PrimalFit is that to be healthy, you must celebrate life! Looking after your health doesn’t mean that you have to live like a monk or nun and abstain from all enjoyment (not that I want to imply that they don’t have any fun – I wouldn’t know, they always look very content…)!
We believe in 80/20 living and if 80% of the time you look after yourself then your body can deal with the occasional treat!
So how does this apply to alcohol?
The key here is moderation, to listen to your body and to stick to good quality products!
Research consistently seems to suggest that those people that drink in moderation are healthier than those that abstain or drink in excess – they have lower incidences of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, total and ischaemic stroke and lower mortality rates. Although we can no doubt enjoy the same benefits in cardiovascular health from a diet rich in omega-3’s and fresh vegetables, it appears that there’s nothing wrong (and perhaps something to be gained) from the occasional drink, provided you’re someone who tolerates alcohol well.
Drinking excessively is not going to lead to optimal health however and excessive alcohol consumption has a number of negative effects on the body. Alcohol:
• inhibits the body’s absorption of key minerals;
• disrupts energy levels;
• impacts upon the digestive system;
• is classified as a neurotoxin (a poison to the brain) and acts as a depressant; and
• damages your liver.
So what and how much should we drink?
The number one selection is without doubt red wine. Countless research studies have demonstrated the impressive anti-oxidant (anti-ageing – got to love that!) qualities of this drink and it has a relatively low energy content and comparatively few additives for an alcoholic drink. Research has also shown that organic red wines have even higher levels of anti-oxidants than conventionally grown wines – and you’re also avoiding potentially harmful pesticide residues. Respectable middle choices include wood aged spirits (particularly whisky, brandy, cognac and scotch), white wines and light beers. The worst choices (which are lacking in good nutrition and high in energy content) are other spirits (e.g. vodka, rum, gin), cider and regular beer. You also want to avoid sugary mixers (e.g. coke and lemonade) that are absolutely loaded with empty calories!
In terms of quantity, the key is moderation and to listen to your body. If you’re looking to lose weight then we suggest that you limit alcohol to one or two glasses of red wine per week. Drinking every night of the week is certainly not going to do you any favours and will leave you feeling tired and bloated. Some people appear to handle alcohol better than others but be honest with yourself – is having a drink every night a pleasurable habit…? or an addiction that isn’t serving you?
Here are some tips to moderate your consumption:
• If you don’t want to drink then drive to events – this will give you a valid reason not to drink and to avoid peer pressure;
• Choose alcoholic drinks made from organic sources where available;
• Eat good quality fat and protein with your alcohol to slow down the rate of absorption.
So, feel free to celebrate life and all of your growth, achievements and learnings with a few glasses of red this weekend (and some smoked salmon perhaps)!
To your health,
These days, with the current pace of life and all things built for convenience, it seems like most people want the quick fix, the magic pill, the ‘do-nothing, change-nothing, just drink this’ solution to the challenges they face in life or the things they want to be different.
I can certainly see the temptation. Life does feel busy, incredibly so at times.
It can also be confusing and (dare I say it?) overwhelming to know where to start when challenges face us and the going gets tough. The idea of just being able to flick a switch or do or take something similarly quick and easy is of course enormously attractive.
The trouble is, there are no quick fixes.
At least not with the important things in life, like health, relationships, career, and so on… Effort to make a change is always required. It may not be much effort, but action is necessary – a new choice, a new decision, a new behaviour must be created and taken.
We have to step away from what is familiar, and comfortable, and step out of our comfort zone. We must grow.
And that can often feel a bit rubbish at first. Uncomfortable at best, downright frightening at worst. Health-wise it may be starting a new exercise or fitness regime, or trying some new recipes or stopping some old habits. In other areas of life it could be stepping up and doing things like public speaking, managing a team, having a difficult conversation, or simply making a dreaded phone call to make a connection.
The truth is though that these moments, these periods of ‘discomfort’ are golden… They not only expand our comfort zones but they show us what we are truly capable of and help us become even more the person we’re meant to be and fulfil our potential, to create and achieve the things we want in our lives. If you think about all of your greatest life achievements, whether they’re large or small, they were all made possible by stepping out of your comfort zone and making yourself feel uncomfortable at first.
So my message to you today is to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. To do the things that don’t feel good (but that you know are good for you, and maybe also for others around you), because that’s when those things start to feel good, and you start to miss them when you’re not doing them, and you expand your comfort zone even more. Imagine how great that would feel… And now make it happen.
To your health,
The average diet is severely lacking in Omega-3′s
“I eat cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a healthy dinner (e.g. chicken. vegetables and rice) or takeaway in the evening – surely I’m doing okay?” Unfortunately you’re not – this is what most people are doing and if you eat like this you’ll be severely lacking in Omega-3′s in your diet. Omega-3′s are essential fatty acids (found in wild fish) and essential fatty acids are fats that our bodies need but can’t manufacture. The other main essential fatty acids are Omega-6′s which are far too abundant in our diet because of all the processed grains, vegetable oils, margarine and grain-fed meat that’s consumed. If you regularly eat out at restaurants or take-away food then you’re food is guaranteed to be cooked in oil that is high in Omega-6′s and this causes real health problems.
It’s estimated that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had a ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 of around 1:1 but that today the average person gets only 1:14 (and some people 1:25) and this causes real issues – this is because Omega-3′s reduce inflammation in the body, and most Omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. All of the major lifestyle diseases today (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, arthritis and even cancer) are inflammatory in nature and its thought that this imbalance between Omega-3′s and Omega-6′s is a major contributing factor.
How you will benefit from eating more fish
By eating more fish (and reducing our Omega-6′s by cutting out on refined vegetable oils) we can really help to balance the ratio of essential fats in the body. As well as reducing the risk of heart disease, clinical evidence supports that this will benefit many health issues including:
Omega-3′s are also incredibly important for the development of children’s nervous systems and brains so if you have children then you must go out of your way to give them lots of Omega-3′s.
What’s the best source of Omega-3′s?
Dietary sources of Omega-3′s include wild fish (the best source by far!), grass-fed meats, free-range eggs and nuts and seeds (especially flaxseeds, walnuts, chia and pumpkin).
The research seems to suggest though that the Omega-3′s from fish and animal sources (called EPA and DHA) are best for the body. This is because the simpler forms of Omega-3′s found in sources like flaxseeds (ALA) have to be converted into DHA and EPA in our bodies before they’re used and we’re really not that good at it (one study suggests that only 1% of ALA consumed is converted into DHA or EPA). Nuts and seeds are also naturally high in Omega-6′s so consuming them doesn’t help balance the ratio of essential fats.
Are all fish equal?
A fish is only as healthy as the diet it’s been eating and a lot of fish available today is farmed. Unfortunately commercial farming pressures mean that some farmed fish (particularly salmon) are fed really poor, unnatural food and then treated with antibiotics to stop them getting sick from these dodgy practices. It’s therefore far better to eat wild fish.
There’s also lots of talk about how the larger ocean fish are higher up the food chain and therefore contaminated by heavy metals such as mercury and generally its advised that the best sources are the smaller wild varieties like wild salmon, anchovies, mackerel, sardines, snapper and bream. More recent studies suggest however that most large fish also contain high quantities of selenium which binds to mercury and stops it causing damage in our bodies – so tuna is back on the menu (sword fish is still off though as it’s low in selenium)! Canned fish like wild salmon and anchovies are also good options although fresh fish is always better!
Consider a fish oil supplement
If you really struggle to eat enough fish then you should seriously consider taking a good quality fish oil. Although its always better to eat the wholefood, this can help address the balance of fats in your diet. Its important to note though that Omega-3′s can go rancid and this can cause other problems in the body so make sure you go for a high quality fish oil, that’s mercury tested and keep it in the fridge if you live in a warm climate.
A client of mine recently put me on to a great site called iherb.com where you can buy good quality fish oil at decent prices. Check out the Nordic Natural Salmon Oil here
Krill oil has been shown to be an even more potent source of Omega-3′s than fish oil. This looks fantastic although the only hesitation is that all the research has been carried out by the main supplier – Neptune!
How much should I eat?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish at least 2 times per week.
For adults with coronary heart disease: The AHA recommends an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 1 gram daily of EPA and DHA.
For adults with high cholesterol levels: The AHA recommends an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 2 – 4 grams daily of EPA and DHA.
For adults with high blood pressure, scientists generally recommend 3 – 4 grams per day, but you should only take under the supervision of a health care provider.
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should only take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.
So make sure you go out of your way to eat more fish – it’s a great way to increase your chances of a happy, healthy, long life!
And then... It started to rain.
Now I’m as human as you are – the idea of going out into the chilly morning and getting wet voluntarily did not appeal at ALL.
So, by the time I had dropped my boys off I had successfully talked myself out of doing any exercise that morning.
Instead I convinced myself that I would do it ‘later’, which, quickly translated, meant probably not at all as I have a tendency on working days to get so absorbed in what I’m doing, whether it’s working with clients or creating new materials that school pick-up comes WAYYYYYYYYY too fast…
And then a little voice in my head said…” Just Do It”. “Come on! Just Do it!”
And I had to listen to that voice because I know it knows its stuff.
- It knows for example that studies have shown that when people have an intention to exercise in the morning it is far more likely to happen, as otherwise other things easily get in the way.
- It also knows that exercising in the morning sets you up for being far more relaxed, effective and better able to focus for the rest of the day.
- It also knows that simply getting some movement into my day, whether it’s some fast and slow walking, or lunges, or pushups will make a significant different to my body weight, shape and tone.
- That voice also knows (bl**dy know-it-all) that I was focusing on everything that could put me off – the chill, the wet, how I perhaps would have to rush to my client session – and that what you focus on is what you get. To the exclusion of everything else.
I certainly wasn’t focusing on how awesome I would feel afterwards, on how great I could feel for the rest of the day that I had done my exercise session and was moving towards to my ultimate goal for my body and my health! So, I decided to shift my focus. To what would work for me, rather than keep me stuck and still.
And I got out there and I just did it.
And I felt FANTASTIC! I had some cool tunes on my iphone and the rain, rather than keeping me cold, kept me comfortably cool as I exercised. I FELT ALIVE!
AND a few hours afterwards, I was still feeling the effects of being more effective, calm and positive having all those endorphins flowing through my body…
So, next time you’re talking yourself out of it (really? even though it may only take 15 minutes? even though you don’t even need to leave the house to do a 15 minute circuit?), maybe you’ll hear MY voice, saying Just Do It!
And if you’d like our help in creating a compelling vision for your body, as well as the plan to make it happen, check out our Valentine’s Offer to lose 5 kilos in 5 weeks!
To your health and vitality,
p.s. when you really don’t know what to do but want to do something exercise-wise for your body, do a squat hold against a wall or a pole. This really is a ‘do-anywhere’ exercise! Here’s a pic I just took (I’ve just realised how long my toes look… but ignore that… although Alex has just said that it looks like I have feet like Bilbo Baggins… hopefully less hairy…). Keep your thighs parallel to the floor and your knees at right angles and hold for as long as you can – build up to at least a minute, do it a few times a week at least and you’ll have strong and toned legs before you know it! (NOTE: Do not do this exercise if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant.
If you watch the popular weight loss programs you might be under the impression that to lose weight you really need to adopt a “No Pain, No Gain” philosophy towards exercise or you won’t get the results that you want – but I want to show you that it’s an absolute myth and that we can get much better results by simply swapping extended cardio sessions for moving more throughout the day!
Current research now considers aerobic exercise a really weak method of accelerating weight loss. A recent one-year study from Stanford University found that 350 men and women, who did 3-5 aerobic exercise sessions per week lasting 30-40 minutes each, improved their fitness but had no significant weight loss. This isn’t surprising when you consider that the amount of energy that you burn when you perform aerobic exercise really isn’t that much – you might feel great when you’ve worked up a sweat running for 20 minutes, but you’ve probably only burnt off the equivalent calories of a small glass of wine (isn’t it smarter to drink one less glass of wine?).
The other problem with extended cardio is that after the session people then tend to eat too much because they feel they can get away with it or that they have earn’t a treat. So unless you plan on running a marathon each day (which will stress your body and age you quickly!), and you have strict discipline that will keep your food consumption right down, you’re never going to make much progress relying on aerobic exercise to lose weight.
So what’s a smarter way to lose weight? If you really want to get great results and to get rid of unwanted kilos, it would be much wiser to put your focus on to eating right (we’ll talk about that another time) and to just moving more throughout the day.
We only have to look at people in Asia to see that this works. Outside of the modern cities it’s incredibly rare to see someone doing an intense cardio run down the street and yet these same people, who also eat a stack of high-calorie white rice, have so few problems with their weight. This is largely due to the fact that even though they eat rice the rest of their diet is pretty unprocessed and their lives are also so much more physical and they often walk or bike ride everywhere. Compare that to us – as well as eating highly-processed food we also have very little physical movement in the day. We drive to shops, drive our kids to school, drive to work, take lifts and escalators instead of the stairs and we don’t even need to get out of our seats any more to change the TV Channel!
We’d therefore recommend going back to basics and to simply grabbing any opportunity you can to walk. Humans have evolved to be active – it’s estimated that our caveman ancestors would have walked for hours each day just looking for food and shelter. Most of their movement was long, slow and of a low intensity and occasionally they would expend a short burst of high intensity effort – lifting a heavy object to build a shelter, throwing a spear to catch some food or climbing up a steep hill. Today many of us struggle to notch up even a couple of kilometres and addressing this movement deficit is one of the most effective ways to improve your health.
Walking is an incredibly powerful tool that, when used regularly, will have a massive impact on your health and energy levels. It’s also very enjoyable – especially if you do it with friends or family. Even though you’ll burn less calories doing this than more intense cardio – the difference really isn’t that much and it will leave you feeling energised rather than drained. Walking also tends to suppress your appetite rather than stimulate it so you’ll be much less likely to sabotage yourself after your session by reaching for that snack or treat.
So how do we go about walking more? Here are a few suggestions:
- leave the car at home and walk to the shops;
- walk to work or get off your bus/train early and walk the rest of the way;
- walk your children to school (this encourages them to be active too!)
- climb up stairs instead of using the lift;
- start or finish your day by going for a walk in the park or around your neighbourhood with a friend; or
- instead of walking you can also use biking, swimming, dancing and playing with the kids as good movement alternatives.
Some people like to wear a pedometer to monitor their general activity. If you do wear one then aim for an absolute minimum of 10,000 steps per day.
On a later blog I’ll talk about how you can also get huge weight-loss benefits from the short, high-intensity workouts that our ancestors carried out (aka strength training and intervals!) but for now get out there and walk and you’ll feel fantastic for it!
In fact, most people are best mates with overwhelm because they hang out with it often. Trouble is… overwhelm is crappy company. Now I’m pleased and relieved to say that I don’t do overwhelm even a fraction as much as I used to, because I used to be a bit of an expert at it.
And there’s a reason I say ‘do overwhelm’.
Because it’s not something that happens to us. It’s something we do. To ourselves. Totally self-inflicted.
In fact, I can even teach you how to ‘do’ overwhelm, because there’s a tried and tested strategy that I’m pretty sure you’ve used yourself … maybe more than once if you’re reading this… It goes something like this:
Step 1. Think of everything that you possibly have to do or how ‘big’ the situation is.
Step 2. Think about how you can’t possibly get it all done right now or all the ways in which it could go wrong.
Step 3. Fall into stressed and/or paralysed and/or soggy mess.
Step 4. Ta-da! Overwhelmed.
So let’s nip this in the bud. Let’s stop doing this horrible thing to ourselves!
Here are 4 tips that can assist you to overcome overwhelm every time (unless of course you like it so much that you want to keep doing it? Hmmm… I didn’t think so):
Tip 1. Get It All Out
Often overwhelm can hit (after you’ve done those key steps) because your mind keeps jumping between all the things that you’re mentally keeping track of and thinking are urgent and important, or all the important aspects of a certain situation, and there seems to be so many of them!
Write everything out on a piece of paper, so you can mentally de-clutter, and have an objective look at what you’ve listed. I was speaking to a client earlier this week who did exactly that because she was feeling so stressed and it actually made her laugh – it was simply ridiculous the amount she was thinking she had to get done in a certain time period! Ask yourself:
1. What is urgent and must be done today (not what would I like to get done today)?
2. What is urgent and when does it really need to be done by (not when would I like it done by)?
3. What can I plan for right now?
In most cases those three questions will give you clarity and direction, as well as a plan for getting a big chunk and certainly the most pressing things dealt with.
Tip 2. Get Some Perspective
Sometimes simply asking yourself whether what you’re stressing about will matter in 1 year or 5 years’ time can be a real leveller. It’s easy to blow things out of proportion when everything else seems to be falling in your lap and quite often we’ll work ourselves into a state about stuff that is really… just ‘stuff’.
Tip 3. Get Some Air
This is a really good one, although it can often be a challenge to do because we’re either wallowing in overwhelm and therefore feel disinclined to do anything (notice the irony here?) or we think that if we take time away from being able to ‘get things done’ that we’re wasting time or being ineffective.
The reality is that getting out for a quick walk around the block or 10 minutes of deep breathing on the deck will, if you spend the time simply focusing on the sounds around you (people chatting, children playing, traffic, bird calls and so on) or on your breathing, quieten your ‘monkey brain’, giving your mind a well-deserved rest. Even better if you do a longer session with some movement (research has shown that exercise is the most powerful method to reduce stress as it deals directly with our primal ‘fight or flight’ stress response). You’ll then be better equipped to re-enter your situation with more detachment and the ability to think more clearly, as well as feel more energised about taking action!
If you’d like to join some scheduled classes, check out PrimalFit’s latest fitness timetable here!
Tip 4. Get A Purpose
If we’re focusing on all of our choices, or on everything we have to do or on the intricacies of a potentially stressful situation then we’re getting lost in the detail and the action, and focusing on what we fear or what seems ‘hard’. Shifting our focus to ‘the big picture’, to what we want to achieve, or how we want to feel, or what a successful outcome is going to give us puts a completely different and non-overwhelming spin on things, enabling them to feel fun, inspiring, exciting, challenging or anything else that we’d rather feel than overwhelmed.
So if you have a project or presentation that is occupying your every thought, focus instead on the impact that you want your contribution to make overall, or how you want to engage and connect with your audience in order to educate or create positive change perhaps, and how you feel about achieving that outcome. If seemingly endless home duties are ‘doing your head in’, focus instead on how these things enable you to look after and nurture the people you love most, and how knowing that makes you feel.
I’d love to know how you get on with these tips, and if you liked this then you’ll love our Lighten for Life 10-week online program that removes the overwhelm and gives you all of the nutrition, exercise and mindset tools you need to get the body, energy and fitness you want! Register here before Monday 20th February for our current special offer!
To your health,