What are your last thoughts before you go to sleep? Are they positive? Or are they anxious and negative?
Did you know that the quality of the thoughts you have before you go to sleep will not only affect the quality of your sleep but also the mood you are likely to wake up in?
This is why having positive thoughts before going to bed is so important! I've been practicing gratitude before I go to sleep ever since I read the book "The monk who sold his Ferrari" (if you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it!).
Gratitude practice is a fancy name for a very simple practice. Basically all you do is take a few minutes of your time to focus on the things in life you are grateful for. You can do this in many different ways but what I recommend is the following.
Before you go to sleep, think of 5 things to be grateful for in your life or in your day. Think of how lucky you are to have them and how happy they make you. Then let yourself go to sleep thinking about them. It's that easy! If you want to go one step further, get a journal and write them down. Keep the journal next to your bed and if you wake up during the night, open your journal and read them. And if you feel anxiety waking up, read them again.
Even on a really shitty day we can all find things to be grateful for, like the fact that we live in a safe environment with a roof above our head and not in a war zone, that we have a warm blanket and a comfortable bed to sleep in, or the fact that we have a loving family & friends we can count on.
By shifting our thoughts to these positive elements in our lives it doesn't just put things back into perspective but it can help us get a good night sleep even after the shittiest day! And sleep is the nuts I say. We all know how much the quality of our sleep will affect our day so it's totally worth investing in!
We might not have the ability to choose what sometimes happens to us in life but we always have the ability to choose how we decide to view it and how much importance we let it take.
Meditation is said to decrease stress, improve mental clarity, provide more energy, and foster creativity! It has also been scientifically proven to mitigate addiction, depression, anxiety, stress, cognitive function and even eating disorders!
In my initial consultations with clients I generally start with going through their current eating habits and their dieting history... so I get to hear a lot of stories about failed diet attempts that brought on frustrations, unhappiness and feelings of failure. And among all the people I´ve met and the stories I´ve heard there´s one thing that they all have in common: CALORIE COUNTING.
If you´ve ever been on a calorie counting diet you´ll know what I´m talking about... they´re not only a waste of time but they´re fcuking annoying and frustrating too. Who the hell would want to live that way? In addition to that, it´s a very reductionist way of looking at food because it only takes into account its energy content. It´s like looking at a Ferrari & a Renault and saying that they both have the same amount of fuel in them. Does this make any sense to you?
Well this is how we look at food if we only refer ourselves to calories. By looking at food this way, we don´t take into account what the food does to our bodies, how it stimulates us and how well we digest it. It doesn´t either take into account the amount of nutrients, vitamins or the amount of crap it contains for that matter either!
When you consider that 125 grams of avocado (approximately 1 avocado) approximately has the same amount of calories as 40g of Doritos (about ¼ of a pack) then you can maybe see why relying solely on calories to determine the quality of a food becomes a problem.
Imagine yourself eating ¼ of a pack of Doritos. Wait, who the hell eats ¼ of a pack of Doritos? Don´t you just open the pack and the next thing you know it´s gone? Or at best, you share it with a friend and it´s gone? Ok aside from the fact that eating ¼ of a pack of Doritos takes a lot of discipline (this is why calorie counting diets require discipline…), now imagine the sensation it will give you. Will it leave you full and satisfied? Or will you be hungry for more? Maybe have the rest of the ¾ of that pack? Anyone?
Now imagine eating an avocado. Wait, who eats a whole avocado? I mean it´s possible and I´ve certainly managed but it´s pretty filling right? It´s not really a sensation that is comparable to the on you would get from eating the Doritos. Right?
Ok so aside from the feeling of fullness, let´s look at the ingredients. When you eat the Doritos you get the added bonus of "Acidity regulators, colorings and other flavor enhancers such as Monosodium Glutamate & Disodium 5´-Ribonucleotide"... Wait, wtf is that? Well Monosodium Glutamate is MSG. It was traditionally used in Chinese restaurants to encourage people to eat more (it triggers insulin to make you feel hungry) and has often been blamed for causing a range of nasty side effects including headache, nausea & even brain damage.
Now the Food Regulation Authorities still allow it to be used in our food but it needs to be listed, which obviously makes it a lot less harmful to our health (right…) I´m not going to get into the nitty gritty of MSG here and I think we are all allowed to make our own opinion of it but for what it´s worth, here is mine: MSG is shit and anything that contains it is too.
Which brings us back to avocado. What are the ingredients in avocado? Well, avocado. Ok and what is avocado known for? Well avocados are known for being high in heart healthy fats and for helping to reduce bad cholesterol. They contain more potassium than bananas and also contain Folate & Vitamin B5, B6, C, E & K. The healthy fat in avocado can also help with "oiling your pipes" (if you know what I mean...) and can therefore contribute to weight loss.
So now that you know all this, would you recommend someone who is trying eat healthier and maybe lose some weight to eat the avocado or the “1/4” of the pack of Doritos?
Well those who advocate for calorie counting will argue that they´re both equal because they both contain the same amount of calories. And if you´re lucky enough, like some of my clients have been, your diet advisor might try sell you some manufactured products as a substitute for real food because it contains less calories than the food they are currently eating. Basically it´s something like:
“Here, stop eating those avocados that are full of calories & fat and eat this chemical shit bomb that´s got all this made up shit that is basically dead because you can leave it in your handbag for 7 weeks and still eat it! But it´s only got 100 calories! Yeah!"
Sounds like a really healthy choice right?
I think we can all agree that it´s not. And that´s the problem with the diet industry and the people who are encouraging us to make food choices based on calories (pretty much anyone who is trying to sell packaged foods these days...). The whole concept is flawed because it completely ignores the quality of the food and whether it is going to fill us up with a bunch of vitamins & nutrients or just make us more hungry because it´s full of shit (like MSG…). This is why losing weight by trying to reduce calories is not only difficult but it also often makes people feel like shit.
The good news is that people are starting to wake up to this reality and to realise that weight loss and making healthier choices doesn´t have to be hard, nor does it have to make us feel like shit. It just requires us to be smart and to stop believing all the bullshit that is being thrown around in the diet industry.
When you think about it, the only reason this industry is surviving is because of our confusion. If we all got smart and started listening to our bodies and stopped giving a FCUK about the C-word, we´d stop consuming all the crap that is being manufactured for the sake of it being “low calorie”, “low sugar” or “low fat”. We´d all eat REAL foods filled with vitamins & nutrients and we´d be in vibrant health & full of energy! We´d eat what we feel like when we are hungry and our minds would be free to focus on more important shit than worrying about what we should be eating to be "healthy"!
If this sounds like an appealing state of mind, the first step you can take today is to cut out the CRAP (aka the processed foods) by downloading my free cleanse cheat sheet here. It contains 9 simple steps to start cutting out the crap from your diet and to help you start a new relationship with food that focuses on quality, taste & satisfaction, rather than calories. And as a result you will feel healthier, leaner, happier & even more badass than you already are!
It is a common belief that the one good thing we can do for our health each day is go to the gym but while exercise is important, what we do outside the gym is even more important. 80% of the way you feel & look is down to what you eat & other healthy habits such as hydration and sleep.
Taking the time to exercise is great but it will not make up for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle so here are a few tips you can start applying now to boost your health & wellbeing even if you don´t have time for the gym!
· Eat more vegetables. You may have heard this a million times but this advice ain´t going out of fashion. Vegetables are where you'll find all your vitamins & nutrients in the form your body was designed to digest them. Fill 2/3 of your plate with veg at each meal. Choose vegetables that have a lot of color and try aim for at least 2-3 different colors on your plate each time!
· Eat healthy fats. some people still believe that eating fat will make them fat but this is not the case. Eating a healthy fat at every meal will not make you fat. It will help oil your pipes ;) We're talking nuts, avocados, seeds, fatty fish as well as coconut, sunflower & olive oil for example. Not only can these fats help lower bad cholesterol but they also help with vitamin absorption so always couple your intake of vegetables with some sort of healthy fat.
· Cut out processed foods, completely. If it comes from a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant, don't. It doesn't matter how shiny the wrapping is and how many health claims it has on it, most processed foods are filled with trans fats & dodgy ingredients. Eating whole natural foods as they were intended by nature will nearly always be a better option than eating something coming out of a factory.
· Take a movement break instead of a snack break. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk working on your business it´s normal to feel like you need a valid excuse to get off your butt and take a break. Most of us use “hunger” and snacking as an excuse but a lot of the time all we need is to get away from the damn screen! So next time you feel like you need a break, do 20 squats, jumps, pushups or situps or walk up & down a few flights of stairs a couple of times. Keep a record of how many movements you do in a day and challenge yourself (and maybe your coworkers? ;). Integrating small bursts of movement into your day will do wonders for your energy levels and your mood. Doing them outside is even better!
· Snack healthy. If you do resort to snacking instead of moving, try keep it clean. A handful of nuts and some berries are a great snack for example. Berries are high in antioxidants and low in sugar compared to other fruits. By coupling them with a source of healthy fat it helps with nutrient & vitamin absorption and also prevents a peak in blood sugar levels. Another option would be an apple with almond butter or tahini for example. Dark chocolate (70% cacao minimum) coupled with nuts or fruit is a healthy snack in my book too :)
· Hydrate! Nothing beats plain old water! Depending on your weight, the level of humidity of where you live and your activity level, drink at least 1,5 - 2,5 liters a day! Coffee, Tea & soft drinks do not count!
· Sleep! I know most people are short on time but if you want to do one thing that will have a positive effect on your energy levels, your concentration, your metabolism and your weight, make it sleep. Sleep is one of the most underrated things ever! If you can't do it every night then try get at least 2 nights a week when you go to bed early and aim for 8 hours of sleep minimum!
If you feel overwhelmed by doing all these at once, I suggest you start by doing one the first week and just keep adding one more each week! Small steps make a big difference and in 8 weeks you will have created yourself a whole new healthier lifestyle!
Did you know that health is about way more than what is on your plate? That’s right, your relationships, career, level of fitness, and hobbies all contribute to your well-being – it’s what Health Coaches call primary food. Your home environment is no exception! Read More
We´re all short on time when it comes to exercise but the good news is that quality far outweighs quantity! Be smart about what you choose to spend your time & money on. Sometimes less is more! Here are my top tips on how to improve your relationship with exercise and truly achieve the results you want! Read More
I don´t know about you but sometimes I reach for food for comfort rather than fuel... Chocolate is my go to food when my soul feels a little depleted and the last few months have been quite challenging... so I have gone through a lot of chocolate :) But it´s also made me look inward and search for other ways to feed my soul. I´m still very much a work in progress and definitely not a master at this whole thing but these are the ones I have found most helpful in lifting my spirit when I have felt down:
Helping others: It can be as little as holding the door open for someone or helping an elderly person with their shopping bag. By helping others we don´t only make their day but we connect with our power to make a positive impact on those around us. This is empowering and makes us feel good. It doesn´t take much time, it costs no money and it makes the World a better place so let´s all do more of that “shit”.
Asking others for help: If you´re anything like me, you probably don´t want to burden your friends with your problems or reach out for help but the reality is, those who care for you will be happy to help you. Not only will it lift their spirit (back to the point above) but they will know that they can count on you for support the next time they need it too.
Being grateful: I can´t emphasize how powerful this has been for me. By focusing our mind on the things we are grateful for we automatically shift into a more positive way of thinking. The way I do this is that every night when I shut my eyes to go to sleep, I think of 5 things to be grateful for. Sometimes it can be as simple as being grateful for having a shelter, food, health, friends & a loving family. Other days I will think about 5 things to be grateful for that happened during that day such as attending a great yoga class or being able to help someone I care for. It may seem futile but it´s a powerful tool in shifting our mind to a more positive mindset and lifting our spirit.
Being vulnerable: This is a really hard one for me and to most people I think. Being honest about how we feel is not always cool nor is it easy but escaping it can bring bigger challenges in the long run. By opening up to others about how we feel, we automatically open up a door for them to do the same and to connect on a more authentic level. Being true to ourselves and those around us makes for a happier soul.
Sitting with sadness: Also one that I struggle with. I always think that there´s something wrong with me when I´m sad and that being sad is being weak but it is not. Sometimes we have good reasons in life to be sad (for more on this, read here). Make time for your sadness, sit with it and don´t put pressure on yourself for not being able to snap out of it. It too shall pass.
Finally, make time for the things that make you happy: This one on the other hand, I am very good at :) I know that spending time with people I love makes me happy. So does practicing Yoga, doing Pilates, horse riding, surfing or just watching the sunset.
These are my ultimate soul foods and they are just as powerful as reaching out for some really good chocolate (and that´s saying something!). They are all free, easy and available to us at no cost so I hope they are helpful to you in some way too!
"We only live once but if we do it right, once is enough" Mae West
“Exercise should be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you just ate”
I wish someone had explained this to me as I was clocking up my 10th km on the treadmill for the 7th day in a row. I was 30 seconds ahead of my record and I could feel my whole body screaming in pain but somehow I thought I was doing myself good. My motto was “no pain, no gain” and boy did I feel the pain. I was sore pretty much every single day and I would train so hard that by the time I would leave the gym I would have absolutely no energy left to go out and have fun and do the crazy stuff normal 21 year olds would do. All I could think of was my training, and what I would be able to eat after training, then how I would train to get rid of what I had just eaten. My brain was constantly adding and subtracting calories and it was a complete fcuking nightmare!
I was caught in a vicious spiral. I knew it was not good for me and I was hating myself for it, but I could see no way out. I had no idea what I was running after but I just couldn’t stop. Looking back at it now, I know I was suffering from training addiction but at the time I had no idea what was going on. I looked myself in the mirror and hated what I saw and I thought maybe if I trained a bit harder and clocked up a few more kilometers or a few more gym visits, I would finally see the results I wanted. My trainings were gruesome. I didn´t have a trainer but I was an absolute bitch to myself and the pain I was inflicting on my body was just ridiculous. All I wanted was to feel good in my body and somehow I thought that putting it through pain was going to get me there.
The reason I share this with you today is because the training culture and the “no pain no gain” mentality just keeps growing and I don´t want others to get trapped like I did. I also feel like what is being resonated today is that the more pain you feel, the better it is for your body and the better results you will get. I understand that athletes must sometimes push themselves to the limit to make progress but as normal human beings we shouldn´t have to feel pressured to do the same. Exercise should be fun and it should be about making us feel good, not about inflicting unnecessary pain on ourselves. And I think that the people who want to take part in exercise without pushing themselves to the limit should be as proud of themselves as those who do.
If you don´t feel like getting your ass kicked and that something doesn´t feel good on your body, don´t do it. I´ve seen better results on my own body and on clients since reducing the training intensity and focusing on exercise such as Pilates & Yoga, because it´s gentler on the body than exercise that is just aimed at burning calories.
I know it may seem ironic but I´ve never trained less in my life than in the past 9 months (mainly because of a broken ankle, twice…) but I´ve never felt better either. For the first time in my life, I feel at home in my own skin and I like what I see in the mirror. I think part of the reason for this is because resting and looking after my ankle has forced me to nurture myself and I think it´s all my body has been longing for.
It´s been a long battle and I´m sure there will still be difficult times ahead, but part of the reason why I decided to become a Health Coach was to be able to help others find balance with regards to food, but also with regards to exercise. Being healthy shouldn´t have anything to do with the amount of calories you burn at the gym. It´s about finding the type of exercise that makes your body feel good and making sure the exercise you are doing is somehow contributing to making your life better, not worse.
I recently listened to Mark Sisson, the founder of the Primal Blueprint, giving a lecture about human evolution and our diet.
Mark´s theory is based on the assumption that we all have a DNA “recipe” to build a healthy human and that the key in doing so is to switch genes on & off based on signals that we give them.
In other words, he believes that our body is designed to be healthy but that our genetic blueprint was set up for us to survive in the wild and not in the type of society that we live in today. So his theory is based on looking at how populations were surviving and striving before agriculture and reproducing this type of behaviour today in order to maintain health and lose any excess weight.
I must say that I strongly believe in this theory and that a lot of the ways I have adapted my own diet has been based on thinking about how we are designed to survive in the wild.
During the 100,000 years we were living in the wild, we would hunt for our food and mainly survive on animals, plants (roots, vegetables, fruits, plants, nuts & seeds). There was no refined sugar, dairy or grains and we did not rely on a specific schedule to eat.
Our food supply varied with the seasons and we ate when there was food available. This often led to periods without food where the human hunter-gatherer would rely on stored fat for energy. It´s only since the start of the agricultural era that humans have had access to grains and have therefore started relying on the sugars derived from carbohydrate for fuel.
This is a pretty simplistic way of explaining Mark´s theory but the bottom line is that he believes that by changing the type of foods that we eat to what was available to us as hunter gatherers and by changing the way we eat to only eating when we are hungry, as opposed to on a set schedule, we can convert our body back to being efficient fat burners. In theory it takes 21 days for this to happen.
I truly believe in looking at our bodies from Mark´s perspective and that the reason a lot of people are struggling to lose weight today is because their bodies are using the food they are eating as fuel instead of digging into their body fat. They are sugar burners instead of fat burners.
And the answer isn´t as simple as skipping a meal here and there or eating less quantity, it´s about overturning the whole system and breaking with some of the guidelines we are given by society in terms of the frequency and content of our meals and start listening to our bodies instead. It´s about breaking the rules and following our guts!