Saturday, November 6, 2010

Too busy to sweat?

Let's be honest. These days everyone is busy. Our lives are choc-a-block full of work, family, extracurricular activities, social occasions, study and whatever else we fill our time with. Add pre-christmas festivities to an already over burdened schedule and somethings gotta give...usually it's the stuff that is keeping us alive...EXERCISE!

So what can you do during this crazy time to keep the exercise in your schedule but still manage to do all the other stuff that needs to be done?
  • Reduce the time, increase the intensity.  By reducing the amount of time we exercise to about 30 minutes, it is much easier to fit into our schedule.  However with a reduction in time, we need to up the ante and work a bit harder.  This doesn't mean just sitting on the bike, reading a magazine!  Give some intervals a try.  Whether it be running, bike riding, swimming, power walking or rowing a great session is: Warm up for 5 minutes.  Then perform 1 minute effort, followed by 1 minute recovery.  Repeat this 10 times.  Cool down 5 minutes.  Stretch.  The 1 minute efforts need to be at your best possible effort.  Give it a will be worth it!
  • Get the sweating out of the way early.  During spring and summer time, the mornings are glorious.  It's peaceful and a great time to fit in some exercise before the craziness of the day kicks in.  By getting your sweating out the way earlier you will be much more likely to stick to it...and feel a hell of a lot better for doing so!
  • Break up your sessions into 10 minute blocks.  If you still find that you are squeezed for time, find 3 x 10 minute blocks in your day and get moving!  These sessions should be of high intensity so you are huffing and puffing by the end of it.  Some people I know use the stairs in their work building or apartment block as their 10 minute burst.
I figure if our ex Prime Minister Johnny Howard (a pretty busy person!) can fit in his exercise everyday (remember the really unattractive green tracksuit?!) then surely we can manage our 30 minutes a day....even during the busiest time of year!

Let your health shine!

To Detox or not to Detox? That is the question...

Following on from my last blog about spring cleaning your diet, it got me thinking about the popularity of Detox.  There are many products in the market available at your local supermarket or chemist and even online.  But the question is, should we?  I’m not a fan of the detox in a box, coupled with a diet of  2 weeks of deprivation.  If we are really honest the torture of the 2 weeks of eating nothing just causes us to binge on day 15!!

Detox does have its place in a healthy lifestyle and in my opinion a gentle healthy detox between seasons is a good way to transition between different eating habits and a time to take stock of any bad habits that have been formed.  Spring is the perfect time to commence a gentle detox  as we relinquish our hold on the heavy, comfort eating of winter and retrain our palate to enjoy the delicious , healthy and light spring and summer fare.  There are several ways to detox and if you are serious about doing it, I have a guided 4 week program available.  However, making just a few changes can have a positive impact.

• Start the day with a glass of warm water and squeeze of ¼ - ½ lemon.
• Give up coffee, tea, soft drink, cordial for a few weeks. Green tea, Rooibos and other herbal teas allowed.
• Drink minimum of 2 litres of water a day. When you are exercising try to drink an extra 500ml. Gotta flush away all those toxins.
• Give up alcohol for a month (yes really!).  At the very least ensure you have 5 alcohol free days each week and no binge drinking on the other two nights.
• Give up the white flour products and discover how good you will feel without the fluctuating blood sugar levels.
• Embrace your inner domestic goddess and get cooking in the kitchen with lots of fresh produce – fruit, vegetables, salads, fish, nuts and seeds, legumes.
• Eat at least one salad every day
• Eat at least 2 pieces of fruit every day.

With a simple plan in place, a detox need not be complicated or over the top.   It can be a great way to help you boost your energy levels and get you back on track if you have let your healthier habits slide.

Michelle Skidmore
Food Therapy
0413 378 250
"Good nutrition is the basis of good health"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Exercise of the month - The basic lunge

I am often asked what exercises are best to help tone and strengthen the legs and butt, that can be done home, in the park or down the beach.

As many of my clients will know, I love the lunge!  It is a great ‘functional exercise’ as it mimics many of our daily activity behaviours such as walking and running, just in a more exaggerated fashion.  You don’t need any fancy equipment, just a bit of clear space and a ‘can do’ attitude! 

Basic static lunge
  • Stand with one foot forward and one foot back, feet hip width apart and ensure hips are facing forward
  • Raise the heel of the back foot off the ground.  Make sure your weight is evenly distributed
  • Keep your chest high and gently contract the buttock of the back leg
  • Slowly drop your body straight down towards the ground
  • On the up phase, ensure pressure is even through your two feet
  • Repeat 10-12 times each side x 2
Add this exercise to your daily routine and watch those legs get stronger and leaner!

Let your health shine!

Spring clean your health

After one of the coldest winters for many years we can all rejoice that spring has finally arrived!  It’s time to peel off those layers, venture outside and play in the sunshine. 

We often spend this time spring cleaning our houses, emptying the cupboards and getting rid of the clutter we no longer need.  Spring is also the perfect time to spring clean our health and begin new and healthy habits.  Follow these 5 quick tips for a healthier you this spring!
  • Revise your menu plans and bring them up to date with the range of fresh new spring produce hitting the shops now.
  • Now that winter is over, we can pack away the slow cooker and casserole dishes.  It is time to move on from high carbohydrate, heavy comforting winter meals.
  • Bring out the wok and experiment with different vegetables and herbs to make tasty and healthy stir fry's.
  • Have at least one salad a day, either at lunch or dinner.  Try some different lettuce leaves and add the usual suspects like tomato and cucumber but then mix it up a bit with some legumes and roasted vegetables.
  • Increase your water intake as the days get warmer.
Not only will these tips help you feel fantastic for spring, they will help you to provide your body with exactly what it needs for a healthier, more vibrant you!

Michelle Skidmore
Food Therapy
0413 378 250

Friday, August 27, 2010

Comfort Cravings

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort" Norman Kolpas

We all have an emotional relationship with food. From the moment we are born we are driven by the innate need to survive, hence be provided with sustenance. As babies, when we cried we were fed. As toddlers, when we fell over it was soothed by a 'treat'. Even as adults we provide food as an expression of love...think Valentines Day, Easter and Christmas.

It's easy to see why so many of us have a 'not so healthy' relationship with food. Food and 'treats' are associated with all things comforting. So it's really not surprising that when we feel stressed (which happens a lot in society today) we reach for the comfort food. Developing effective strategies to deal with the stress is one aspect in managing food cravings, but sometimes our cravings may indicate an inbalance in our underlying biochemistry.

Food cravings can be driven by an underlying biochemical need within your body and your brain.  When we are stressed we often crave carbohydrates like sugar, bread and potato as these foods provide a quick source of energy that helps to increase our mood enhancing brain chemicals.  Paradoxically, if we eat too much of this kind of food, it can actually have the reverse effect and release one of our stress hormones.

Other cravings that may indicate an imbalance include:

Sugar.  A need for serotonin, the feel good brain chemical.  It could also indicate a yeast overgrowth in your gut.
Salt.  A possible need for potassium and iodine.  It could also indicate adrenal exhaustion and underactive thyroid.
Protein. May indicate a lack of an amino acid that promotes calm and relaxation.
Salad Greens.  May indicate insufficient hydration.
Chocolate and Caffeine. May indicate a deficiency in dopamine, another feel good brain chemical.
Fried fatty foods.  May indicate elevated cortisol levels and a lack of essential fatty acids.

It's easy to see why a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, protein, good fats and wholegrains will easily nourish our bodies and help us function at optimum capacity.  It will also help to reduce the cravings we do have as our bodies are receiving all the nutrition they need.  However, when you do get stressed it may be worth noting what particular things you are craving and finding out from your healthcare practitioner if you do actually have a deficiency in that area.

emit your life!

(information sourced from Jacqui Manning, Comfort Food, pg 48 Wellbeing Magazine 2009)

No hope here!

It seems that new seasons and change go hand in hand.  Just as we get 'over' a season, we too get over doing the same thing day in and day out.

Spring is an interesting time of year as it brings with it life, vitality and a sense of freshness.  New ducklings are waddling around the streets and by the water, the mulberry trees are starting to fruit and you can smell the fragrance of the flowers floating in the air.  It's all very picturesque isn't it?!

Spring is a great time of year to start something new, to give your life a bit of an overhaul and to breath some vitality and freshness into your day.  But how exactly do we do that?  I often hear people saying that they are making some changes to their health and wellness and 'hope' it all works out.  Hope?!  I can honestly say that if we 'hope' things work out and leave things up to chance then our likelihood of success with change is slim.

If we want success with change, particularly in regards to our health, we have to plan for it.  Right down to how many nuts you are going to have with your apple on Tuesday at 3pm!

But where in the world do we start?  Sometimes contemplating change, particularly if our health is compromised or we have had numerous failiures in the past, can feel like trying to climb Mt Kiliminjaro with one leg.  It can be done, but it sure aint easy!

Here are some hot tips to get you on your way...

Start with a big vision. Have a think about what you want your life to look like when you are at your best.  It could be 12 months from now or 5 years.  What do you look like and what are the things you are doing?

Why do you want this?  This is often a tricky question for people to answer, however if we get to the real reasons you want your vision (as described above) then this will be a huge motivator going forward.

What are some obstacles that could get in the way? See if you can identify what obstacles may get in the way of you achieving your 'best you'.  It could be something small or it could be something big.  It may be a physical obstacle but it may be an emotional or mental obstacle.  Whatever comes up, write it all down.  Once we have identified the obstacles we can then start to overcome them!

What are some strategies you could use to overcome the obstacles?  Get creative.  Think about some strategies you could use to get over the barriers/obstacles that will pop up whilst pursuing your vision.  Have a think about what obstacles you have come across in the past and how you overcame those. 

Identify your strengths.  By identifying your strengths you will be able to use those strengths to help come up with different strategies.

Identify your support network.  One key to making any kind of change is making sure you have the support of those around you.  Invite them to join you or at least include them by communicating what your plans are.

Get into action.  Talking and planning is one thing, but action is what makes the true difference.  Start with small steps each day knowing that each small step will get you one step closer to that overall vision.

So go on...embrace the new season with the energy and freshness that it brings.  Make the changes you have been wanting to make by planning for them and you will have success!  No hope here!

emit your life!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Unmentionables are mentioned!

Let's be honest ladies.  We all know what it's like.  After we have had our first adorable, delightful bundle of joy our bodies just aren't quite the same!  But what about when number 2, 3 or 4 comes along?  Our collagen and skin elasticity seems to be in rapid decline!  Everything is heading south for the winter without the northerly summer return!

Not only do we have the external imperfections to contend with, what about the internal imperfections?  Yes I AM talking about the unmentionable, the shocking and the plain unattractive.  I am talking about your pelvic floor!

I am seriously passionate about helping women improve their pelvic floor (kinda sounds weird doesn't it?!).  The main reason being that I have spoken to heaps of women recently, young, old, pregnant, post partum and in-between and most have some kind of pelvic floor issue.  Unfortunately there seems to be a misconception that once you have a dodgy pelvic floor due to childbirth or even injury then a 'little bit of leakage' and 'panty liners' are a normal part of life.

Well guess what?!  It doesn't have to be like that!

Dr Pauline Chiarelli is a bit of a pioneer in the area of women's health and the pelvic floor.  She states that "Leakage may be common, but it's never normal.  And, more importantly, incontinence is curable."  How many of us have been told (most often from our own mother's and grandmothers!) that it's all part of being a women, particularly if you have had children?

There are usually 3 main symptoms that indicate a bit of a break down in your pelvic floor.  They are:
  • Stress incontinence - these are the leaks that happen when you jump, lunge, cough or sneeze
  • Urgency - a really strong need to go to the toilet...right now!
  • Frequency  - the need to go to the toilet quite often, including during the night
You may have just one of these symptoms or you may have all of these symptoms.  If you do, it is time to do something about it!

The bladder and the pelvic floor are inextricably linked.  The pelvic floor controls the filling and emptying sequence of your bladder.  The job of the muscles of your pelvic floor are to stop the leaks so it's easy to see how a weak or compromised pelvic floor can lead to a bit of leakage.

The best way to put a stop to the little leaks is to start training your pelvic floor. However in order to train your pelvic floor you need to be able to find your pelvic floor!

Next time you go to the toilet, try to stop the flow of urine mid flow (please don't do this frequently as it can interfere with normal bladder function).  Take note of this inner 'drawing up' sensation as that is your pelvic floor contracting.  It is this sensation that we will be focusing on over the next couple of months in order to help you regain control over your pelvic floor!

emit your life!