Fit Body Fresh Mind
11:28 AM

In defense of chocolate!

In defense of chocolate_copy

As you probably know, chocolate is something that is very close to my heart and that I feel quite strongly about. I believe it doesn´t just taste delicious and feed the soul but I also believe it has many health benefits! I was therefore very surprised to see that it´s the food that the British Heart Foundation encourages people to stop in order to raise money.

I´m all for raising money for a good cause but the fact that they have chosen chocolate as the food people should stop eating is a little silly because it sends the message that eating chocolate is bad and that we should stay away from it, which I believe is wrong.

I appreciate that a lot of the chocolate that is being sold today is full of sugar, dairy and even worse things such as high fructose corn syrup but the cocoa itself is not the culprit! It´s everything else that it comes with! So it really annoys me that such a respectable society as the British Heart Foundation picks on cocoa! Cocoa is not the problem!

Pick on sugar, processed foods and encourage people to stop eating refined carbs but please please please don’t pick on chocolate… Dark chocolate (we´re talking 75-80% cacao) has many health benefits including:

·      High levels of antioxidants that help prevent premature ageing and reduce inflammation.

·      A study by Ried K, et al. found that it can help lower blood pressure and another study found it can help reduce cholesterol, both of which can help prevent heart disease. Hellooooo!??! British HEART foundation!!!???

·      Another study at Harvard Medical School showed that drinking hot chocolate improves brain health and reduces memory loss in people in their seventies.

·      Finally, a study by Martin FP, et al found that drinking hot chocolate can help reduce cortisol levels, one of our primary stress hormones. Can anybody relate to the fact that consuming chocolate makes them chill out???

I encourage you to share this with your friends & family and to show your support for chocolate, REAL chocolate. Let´s not go down the same road as we did with FAT whereby we were told that all fats were bad for us to then later realize that it was wrong and that a good dose of healthy fats is actually essential for our health!

All fats are not created equal just like all chocolate is not created equal. The good stuff is truly good and the bad stuff is truly not so good. So let´s get the facts right and not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

5:09 AM

The big elephant in the room when it comes to healthy eating

Michael Pollan - if it comes from a plant

I listened to a really interesting lecture by Mark Bittman last week. He´s a food writer and spoke about how a lot of the food that is being sold today, shouldn´t even be allowed to be called food because it doesn´t fulfill its role of being nutritious.

What he means by that is that a lot of modern foods are exempt of real nutrients and filled with crap instead! I´m talking high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, trans fats, colorings and preservatives. These things are added to our foods to make them tastier, more appealing and to last longer on our shelves but they are creating havoc on our health!

And what I´ve noticed from working with clients is that instead of addressing this issue first, most people are much more concerned about whether they are getting enough protein, or if they´re eating too many calories or too many carbs. But these concerns are completely irrelevant if you eat foods that are full of chemical crap that are ruining your health and screwing up your metabolism!

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is “how much processing has what I´m eating had to go through in order to reach my plate?” If we´re looking at vegetables, fruits, beans and even meat and fish, the answer is: not a lot. If it´s white bread or a bagel, it´s considerably more and if it´s something that comes in a shiny packaging with a list of 17 ingredients, the answer is probably a lot. It doesn´t matter if they have “healthy”, “natural”, “low fat”, or “gluten free” written on them. Most of these terms are completely unregulated (or very loosely regulated) and what we should look out for is not what they are exempt of, but what has been added in instead!

Our bodies were designed to digest food, REAL food, not chemical shit bombs. Every time we eat, we have the choice to either support our health and immunity by eating foods that are natural, filled with nutrients & free of chemical crap or to feed it with “empty calories” that will leave us craving for more. Because that´s what most of these foods were designed to do. 

So if you´re struggling with your weight or just generally want to eat healthier, the single most powerful thing you can do is to cut out the processed crap!

You can still eat delicious foods and even have meat, wine and whatever hell you want. Just eat more vegetables and focus on REAL food!

And by eating this way your body will naturally lead you to the foods it needs and any concerns about protein, vitamins or any other micronutrients will mostly sort themselves out by themselves!




1:20 AM

You think we have enough food?

Girl surrendered by snacks_copy4

Up until a few years ago, my mind was constantly spinning with the following questions: “am I getting enough protein if I eat this?” “crap I haven´t eaten in 4 hours is my body going into starvation mode?” “Should I be eating more superfoods?” “maybe I should have a snack?” “omg I skipped breakfast, how am I going to survive today?”

From speaking with clients I´ve come to realize that this is a common way of thinking. It seems like one of our biggest fears is running out of food and not getting enough of it. I think we were genetically programmed to think that way. When we were hunter-gatherers, our mind needed to be fully focused on the task of finding food or else we risked starvation. But today it´s not exactly something we need to worry about, is it?

If you´re lucky enough to live in a developed country, I think we can all agree that food is absolutely EVERYWHERE. Yet a lot of us are still walking around thinking about how we are going to get our next meal. And given that we live in a consumer society, the concept that we are “not getting enough” and that we always “need more” is being exploited to always make us want more. We are being led to believe that by consuming more we will be healthier, feel better and be sexier.

But does that make any sense in a society where over half the population is either obese or overweight? Is consuming more really the answer? When was the last time you heard of someone die of starvation? I agree that a lot of people are deficient in certain nutrients but that´s not going to get solved by the type of foods we are being encouraged to buy.  If anything, consuming more is only going to increase the number of people who are obese and suffering from heart disease, diabetes and other diseases linked to it.

So how do we deal with this? Well the first thing we can do is to let go of our fear of starvation. We are NOT going to run out of food and we are NOT going to die from not getting enough of it. If you live in a developed country you are more likely to eat yourself to death than the opposite.

Secondly, I encourage you to relax. A lot of us get a bit nervous about getting our next meal. This is normal as mentioned above but it´s no longer relevant as we are no longer hunter-gatherers. So next time your mind starts worrying about where you are going to get your next meal from, ask yourself if you are truly hungry. If you are not, just thank your mind for looking out for your survival and move on.

Finally, sometimes it helps to experience what it´s like to go without food for us to realize that we probably don´t need as much of it as we think. I´m not a massive advocate of fasting but sometimes skipping a meal can make us realize that we can still fully function without it. In fact, maybe consuming less will make you feel better. Whatever you do, trust your intuition and stick to what feels good for YOU. And remember, food is there and you can have as much of it as you want, but that doesn´t mean you have to have it all.

1:45 PM

“No pain, no gain” really?

The fitness industry has made us buy into the idea that exercise is all about “no pain no gain” and throwing up during a workout has somehow become and admirable thing to do… While I have a lot of respect for the people who indulge in this type of training, I sometimes wonder why some people do it? I mean if you´re an athlete, ok. But if you´re just an average Joe who wants to feel good in your body then I don´t really see the point, unless you truly enjoy it.  

We all know that exercise plays an integral part in staying fit and healthy but as with food, I believe it´s all about finding the right balance! And as with food, our choice of exercise comes down to our personal preferences. While some people may really enjoy being pushed to the limit and having the occasional puke, others may not enjoy it so much... I have experimented with both ends of the spectrum and this is what I have learnt:

  • The best exercise is the exercise you actually enjoy
  • Don´t exercise for the sole sake of “burning calories”. Exercise should be about making your body feel good by keeping it strong, flexible and sexy! If you want to lose weight, address your diet. No amount of exercise will make up for a bad diet.
  • It´s not because you don´t push your body to its limits that you won´t see results. That´s just b…shit. If anything, pushing yourself to the limit may result in injury. Exercising with restraint and listening to your body and its limits is smart, and does not make you a pussy.
  • Exercising doesn´t have to involve going to the gym or using any fancy equipment. A walk around the park, getting off the bus a few stops early or doing a few stretches when you wake up still counts as exercise!
  • Exercise should make your body feel better, not worse. By that I mean that it should make you feel stronger, more flexible, mobile and energized, not all beaten up and battered!
  • Variety is the spice of life… Doing different types of exercises will benefit your body and your mind in different ways. Ideally you want to be doing a bit of cardio, a bit of strengthening and some stretching every week.
  • Less is sometimes more. If you´re spending hours training and not getting the results you want, you may simply be overdoing it. Reduce your sessions or incorporate some Yoga for a week or two and see how it makes you feel.  
  • Stretching is exercise! You´d be amazed at how beneficial stretching is to your body! If there´s one thing you shouldn´t skip, it´s stretching!
  • If something doesn´t feel right, stop. I know it´s sometimes difficult in the heat of the moment when the trainer is telling you to push harder but if it doesn´t feel right, listen to your body and back off!
  • Exercise from a place of love… Ok so without wanting to sound too hippy here, consider the thoughts that are going through your mind when you are exercising. If they come from a place of hate and that you are somehow using exercise to punish yourself (this may seem like a weird concept for those who have never experienced it…) then try dig a little deeper to understand where this is coming from and address it. Your body doesn´t deserve to be beaten up only because you are unhappy in certain areas of your life. Use exercise as a form of self-love and think of movement as a way to nurture your body, not as a way to destroy it!

Again, exercise is a very personal thing and only YOU will know what you enjoy and what feels good on your body. And while it´s great to get inspiration and tips from others, don´t let it distract you from your own path. Stick to what feels good for YOU and listen to your body! It´s YOUR vessel for LIFE and the only place YOU have to LIVE so listen to it and treat it with care!

Maddy x