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!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Holiday Happiness

When was the last time you had a holiday?  A real holiday?  Away from the house, the cleaning, the cooking, the pressures of everyday life?  A holiday where you could just spend time with your family immediate and/or extended.  Was it recent or you can't actually remember?

Regular breaks away are what I like to call Recovery Breaks and they are a really important part of our overall wellness picture.  These breaks not only get us out of our usual environments but also creates an opportunity to reconnect and bond with those important to us.

So what constitutes a recovery break?

A recovery break can be as little as a long weekend away right up to a good few weeks away.  The purpose of the recovery break is exactly that.  To recover.  To help heal our mind, body and soul.  It is not about being a crazy tourist and trying to see everything you can in 2 days then switching to a new location.  It is about slowing down, appreciating being alive and being surrounded by those you love and care about.

A good friend of mine went on a recovery break recently.  They didn't travel very far, or anywhere fancy.  The intention was to relax, unwind and spend some quality time together as a family.  Out of their recovery break came 2 more relaxed parents, some revelations on their family's direction and the values they want to instill in their children going forward.  How cool is that?!

Yes it is easy to exude happiness and relaxation without the pressures of daily life when on a recovery break.  However don't you think we owe it to ourselves and our families to invest in that kind of recovery at least a few times per year?!

emit your life!