Weight loss isn’t just about the food that you eat

Weight loss isn’t just about the food that you eat

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Weight Loss Extends to Your Daily Life

Many people go on diets, eat only certain types of food, and exercise. Sometimes you get the results that you want, which is great! Sometimes you can’t, which can be super frustrating. Something I see so often with many of my clients.

This is because there are many things that can impact how much weight you lose – from how stressed out you are to your personal biology. Weight loss actually does involve a lot more than just counting calories and cutting back on certain food groups.

I am going to cover how your biology, your emotions, and the environment you live in can impact your weight. Hopefully being aware of factors that can impact your overall health and body weight, can help you reach your goals with a bit more ease!

Poor Sleeping Patterns

Sleep is the first factor on the list because sleep impacts so many different areas of life.

There have been several reasons found as to why sleep loss can impact your eating habits or even your ability to function at a good capacity. You know those lazy days – you need coffee to wake up in the morning, you buy takeout food because you don’t want to cook, and you skip the gym because you’re so tired.

Another reason is our metabolism. Of course, we know this impacts how much we can eat or should eat in a day. But, without enough sleep, our metabolism will slow down to save our energy. When our metabolism slows down like that, a hormone called cortisol will be released into our system to make us want to eat more.

Less sleep will also release more of the hormone that tells us when we are hungry and less of the hormone that tells us when we are full. So the less you sleep, the more you are going to want to eat and continuously eat!

Stressed Out to Stress Eating

I think almost everyone who is trying to lose weight knows about stress eating. Stress eating how some people handle their stress – they decide to eat more and more food, often unhealthy food, in order to feel better and try to not be stressed out.

This isn’t only because eating your personal comfort foods (mmm, chocolate…) can help make you feel better emotionally, but also because stress also releases more cortisol.

This means you will want to eat more the more you are stressed because your body is releasing hormones that make you feel hungrier, even when you really aren’t.

Another reason why stress can make it so much harder to lose weight is that stress is a more negative emotion. Negative emotions or states of mind are difficult to deal with when you are trying to lead a healthy life because your mind and body will often make you feel more pessimistic or only allow you small amounts of energy.

Pessimism and low energy are the main ingredients in making you lazier and wanting to eat food that isn’t very good for you. Trying to keep your spirits up, having a good support system, or finding the good motivation to keep working out or eating well can help you make it through these times.

Speaking of a support system…

Living Without Supportive People

This is another reason why it can be hard for you to lose weight. After the first two points of this article, you may have realised by now that every aspect of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing can bleed into another aspect of your life.

So you could have a family that is supportive of your change of lifestyle – but you won’t be able to reach your weight loss goals well if they aren’t supporting you well in other areas. Constant negative critique or pessimism – from your looks to your hobbies – won’t help you on your weight loss journey.

That’s one reason why joining a group full of others who can cheer you on through life or having many friends can help you lead a healthier life – positivity is infectious, after all. It may be difficult, but having any group to turn to for positivity or support can help you reach any of your goals with a lot more ease than you may expect – especially if you are trying to lose weight. Come and join a free support group here.

Happiness

Happiness or unhappiness can make a difference in the amount of weight you can or can’t lose.

Pessimism or unhappiness will make you lose far less weight, typically, because your motivation is gone. You will also have a higher tendency to be unwilling to do anything because the amount of energy you have will be lower.

Positivity and happiness can go a long way. It can help bring your spirits up, even slightly, so you have the energy to do what you need to do and what you want to do.

Chemicals in The Home

Something that you may not often think about is the toxicity of the household you live in – from literal chemicals to emotional toxicity. The chemicals in your cleaning supplies to the formula within your facewash could actually be impacting your weight loss regimen.

The chemicals in the everyday items we use are important because we absorb some of it every time we use it. So having a product with something like lead – for an extreme example – inside of it will negatively impact your body.

Even in the emotional sense, being constantly surrounded by negative people can impact how you’ll reach your goal. That’s one of the reasons why having a support system is so important – it can bring you down so much. But I’ve talked about that already.

Something We Can’t Change – Genetics

There are bacteria within our digestive system that has a large impact on how lean a person can be. People with this type of bacteria in their system have a tendency to gain less weight.

So if you are really struggling with losing weight – this could be part of the problem.

But you can’t change your genetics. So what do you do? In this case, you can eat more non-processed foods and foods like vegetables or lentils. This will help promote the change of your gut bacteria into better quality gut bacteria, helping you to fight inflammation and aid digestion, which will help you to keep the weight off.

Now that you know the Potential Factors… What Do I Do Now?

I gave a few solutions, but here is a more concise list of the reasons I mentioned that could be preventing you from losing weight.

  • Sleep Troubles – go to bed at a set time and wake up at a set time (if possible) to establish better sleeping patterns; sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night
  • Stress – take a break every now and then to relax; try to stay positive; keep in touch with your support system
  • Support System – talking with them about your struggles; talk to them about everyday life; spend some time together; stay positive together
  • Happiness – think about how much progress you have made since day 1; do activities that make you happy
  • Chemicals – check for certain ingredients in the formulas of the things you use; use less harsh chemical cleaners (like bleach)
  • Genetics – eat lots of vegetables, fruits, lentils, and other healthy food products

Hopefully, now that you are aware of the potential reasons as to why you aren’t losing as much weight as you want – or none at all – you can at least be more aware of your actions and take steps so you can lose more weight.

Need a little extra push in achieving that goal weight? Perhaps it’s time to join one of my programs. Find out how I can support, motivate and encourage you to shift those pounds here!

Best wishes,

Christy x

8 Tips for Achieving a More Positive Attitude

8 Tips for Achieving a More Positive Attitude

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Following on from my last blog 7 Signs You Could Benefit from a Change in Your Mindset I have put together my top tips on how to be more positive!

Having a positive attitude can have a big impact on your life. According to studies, it can make you feel happier and make you more resilient. And potentially, it may also be able to help you live longer too! If you’ve had a negative attitude for a while, it can feel like a massive challenge to turn that around and be a more positive person. With a few mental shifts, it’s more achievable than you might think. Here are some tips for getting and keeping a more positive attitude.

Recognise that change starts with you

A lot of us feel that life is something that happens to us, which can make you feel as though luck is a big factor in how it plays out.

Realising that you actually have much more control of your future is a mental shift that is super important for maintaining a positive attitude.

Change starts with you – if you believe something is possible, there’s a much bigger chance that it will happen. And if you don’t believe it’s possible? You’re not likely to take any steps towards change and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Any changes you want to make to your health and wellbeing all start with your mindset.

Know that you’re enough

Accepting who you are and not comparing yourself to other people is a big part of having a positive attitude. Those ultra confident people you’ve been secretly envious of are probably not as super confident as you think. What they do have in bundles is self acceptance.

We all have different things to offer to the world and finding ways to embrace this can help you to move past the negative mindset that usually comes with feeling inadequate about yourself. Positive affirmations can be a great way to encourage your mind to recognise that you are definitely enough.

Switch negative thinking for positive

Negative thinking is one of the hardest things to change but it’s also one of the most important shifts to make for a positive attitude. If negative thought patterns have become second nature to you, you might not even be aware of just how negative and self destructive your thoughts are.

Isolating your thoughts is the first step, and mindfulness can be great for this. You might find that within your negative thoughts, you tend to repeat a few more often than others and pass judgement on yourself with specific bits of self talk. Whenever you find yourself talking negative to yourself, try to stop it in its tracks and turn it around into much more positive self talk.

Start the day off right

How you start off the day can help you to get off on a positive note for the rest of it. Positive affirmations along the lines of “This is going to be a good day” can put you in the right mindset. Morning rituals can also include eating a healthy and filling breakfast, drinking a glass of warm water and lemon to get your digestion going and doing gentle stretching exercises to improve your circulation. Spending a bit of time on these every morning can be a game changer for a more positive start to the day, even if you find that you have to get up a little earlier to make it happen.

Find enjoyment in the little things

We often rely on the big things to trigger happiness but you’re more likely to find contentment if you look for positives and enjoyment in the smaller things in life. Instead of believing that money and a great career will bring you joy and fulfillment, switch focus and get into the habit of appreciating the things around you. From the sights and sounds of nature to enjoying a calming cup of tea, there’s lots of opportunity to enjoy small moments that can help you to feel more content with life.

Gratitude can be really good for helping you to look deeper and turn negatives into positives. When you’re faced with a stressful situation or just one that isn’t going as you planned, dig deep and flip things around to find a silver lining that you can express gratitude for. Even in a traffic jam, you can find a positive such as being thankful for a chance for some “chill” time to relax, for example.

Smile a lot

How often do you smile on an average day? If it’s not a lot, you’re missing out on chances to release some feel-good brain chemicals, including serotonin. Smiling sets the scene for genuine happiness so even if you don’t feel happy right now, making sure to smile can change that. Even a fake smile can do this, according to studies.

Look for opportunities to learn and grow

How do you tend to feel when things don’t go to plan? If you usually feel that it’s a sign that life isn’t fair, try reframing your thinking. Instead of asking why these kind of things always happen to you, switch it up and ask what you can learn from the fact that it did happen. How can it help you to grow as a person, for example? In this way, you can turn failures and mistakes into opportunities to learn and develop.

Surround yourself with positive people

Another top tip for maintaining a positive attitude involves the people you surround yourself with in your day-to-day life. Be honest with yourself here and ask if the people around you are really inspiring you to be positive or helping to drag you down and reinforce negative thinking? If it’s more the former than the latter, you might want to rethink the company you keep and look for people who can help you to project positive energy.

I hope you find my tips helpful, they work for me so should work for you too.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

7 Signs You Could Benefit from a Change in Your Mindset

7 Signs You Could Benefit from a Change in Your Mindset

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Your mindset is super important for personal growth and self-acceptance, especially if yours tends to be a negative one. If you’re stuck in a fixed negative state of mind, it can be difficult to recognise when you would benefit from changing your mindset, even when the signs are staring you in the face. Feel like that could be the case for you? Here are my 7 signs that it’s time to switch up your mindset.

You only see negative things

Do you tend to put a strong focus on what’s wrong in your life and rarely (or never! ) acknowledge the good parts? This is a major sign that you’ll benefit from changing your mindset to a more positive one that will help you to build better mental strength.

As you probably know from personal experience, negative thinking paves the way for stress, anxiety and other mental health problems. It also lowers your expectations if you’re constantly expecting the worst case scenario to occur.

You put yourself after everyone else

How are you doing when it comes to self care and taking care of your own needs? If you still feel that it’s selfish to focus on yourself rather than other people, this is another sign that it’s time to alter your mindset and make yourself more of a priority.

Putting yourself first sometimes is super important for your own health and wellbeing, especially when it comes to things like sleep and healthy eating. Self care also triggers a relaxation response, which can help to stop the stress response affecting your health. These days, we know that chronic stress and the inflammation it can trigger is a big factor in a lot of health issues. Self care can therefore be a lot more crucial than you might think and changing your mindset to reflect this can be one of the best things you can do for your health.

You blame yourself for everything

When things don’t go to plan, do you usually put the blame solely on yourself and refuse to recognise that other factors may be involved too? Excessive self-blame is linked to mental health problems, including depression. It’s also something that holds you back from being able to learn and grow from mistakes and experiences.

Instead of blaming yourself, try recognising that it’s time to shift your mindset towards self-acceptance and self-forgiveness instead. We all make mistakes and having a mindset that accepts this and looks for ways to use them in a positive way

You worry (all the time)

Everyone worries now and again but if your worries are consuming you, you’ll definitely benefit from a mindset change.

A negative and anxious mindset can be very exhausting and it’s also very unproductive. A lot of the time, you’re worrying about things that will never happen or that you can’t change so it’s literally wasted energy. Finding ways to stop worrying about things you have no control over is super important for a more positive mindset. And for the things you might be able to change? Focus on what you could do to make that happen.

Your expectations stress you out

If you’re expecting things to happen without the right mindset, it’s usually going to end in frustration and disappointment. This is particularly true when it comes to happiness. We often expect happiness to just happen to us, usually in line with material things or other people. Expectations about who you should be and what other people expect from you can also super stressful.

Shifting your mindset to recognise that your expectations start with you can be a game changer as it helps you to feel that you have control over them. Experts have suggested that lowering your expectations can be a secret weapon in the road to happiness.

Your routines have changed

Have you noticed a shift in your sleep, appetite and mood lately? If this isn’t for the better, it’s another sign that your mindset could use a more positive stance.

A negative mindset can have an effect on your health so it’s probably no great surprise to know that negative changes in your routines can come about as a result of your mindset, especially if you don’t have a positive one. Negative thought patterns can affect your sleep patterns and mood, and can also lead to emotional eating.

You feel your priorities/values aren’t matching your life

Have a think about your biggest priorities in life. Maybe these focus on your health, happiness or family, for example. Now have a think about whether your life is really helping you to work towards your priorities. Were you surprised to recognise that your priorities and values don’t fit too well with how you’re living your life? It’s another sign that you’re in the right position to change your mindset and bring your life in line with your values.



Healthy Emotions for Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Healthy Emotions for Healthy Lifestyle Choices

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Making healthy food and drink choices is something we all know how to do on a logical and intellectual level. Nowadays we have easy access to an abundance of healthy-eating advice and information, and healthy living is a hot topic.

We all know that an apple is a better choice than a bar of chocolate. We know that our bodies are crying out for a drink of hydrating, cleansing water and not a chemical-laden can of Diet Coke.

Why, then, can it be so difficult to make the right choice?

Why can it be so difficult to break a bad habit, even when we know that the benefits of doing so would be immense and probably even life-changing?

The answer to these questions is not that we are lazy or weak or greedy or undeserving (or whichever negative narrative we have come to believe).

The answer to these questions is programming. We are programmed from the time we are in the womb and this programming goes on for our whole lives.

Our conscious mind accounts for only around 5% of our entire mind. Just 5%! This, of course, means that the other 95% of the time (i.e. almost always) we are functioning from the programmes which have been embedded into our subconscious at some point in our life.

A good analogy for this is learning to drive. It is only a conscious process when we are actively learning and have to consciously remember to put the clutch down before we change gear or remember ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’, for example. Once we are competent and experienced drivers, driving becomes a subconscious process and we often arrive at our destination and struggle to remember how we got there!

What’s more, the subconscious mind processes information billions of times more quickly than the conscious mind. So, this fact coupled with the fact that the subconscious accounts for around 95% of our mind as a whole should give you some idea of how incredibly powerful the influence of our subconscious programming is.

This is absolutely fine – in fact, it’s great! – if we are operating on positive subconscious programmes like ‘I am worthy’ or ‘I deserve to be happy’ or ‘I love my life’.

Often, however, we are operating on more detrimental programmes:

‘I’m not good enough’

‘I don’t deserve to be happy/healthy/attractive’

‘I’m not clever enough’

‘My sister is the pretty one’

‘I can’t do anything right’

‘My mum has always been overweight so I will be too’

‘Food is the only thing that makes me happy’.

And many, many more.

Do any of these sound familiar? Do any of these resonate with you or make you feel uncomfortable/sad/angry?

Our bodies record every experience we ever have, from our time in the womb onwards (quite a thought, I know!). So even when we can’t consciously remember an experience because we were very young (or often because we have managed quite successfully to push it right to the back of our minds), our body still holds on to the memory.

Any feelings with a high emotional charge, e.g. inferiority, guilt, jealousy, failure, etc., stay with us until we take steps to acknowledge them and clear the relevant emotion from our bodies, minds and energy systems.

Of course, food and emotions are intrinsically linked, hence why we can inadvertently sabotage our attempts at healthy living (or indeed anything else we are attempting to change in our lives). 

Eating to fill an emotional void, eating due to loneliness, powerlessness, boredom, stress…the list goes on.

As incredible as it may seem, we can even choose to hold on to excess weight at a (deeply!) subconscious level as it can give us a feeling of protection; it creates a barrier between us and a harsh world. Or perhaps if we have been badly hurt in a relationship then we can (again, DEEPLY subconsciously) decide to make ourselves feel less attractive in some way so that we are less likely to be approached by prospective partners and can therefore avoid being hurt again.

Huge steps forward can be made when we clear these old, stuck emotions and outdated subconscious programmes which no longer serve us.

When we are functioning from an emotionally-balanced, positively-programmed mindset it is significantly easier to opt for the healthy choice, not only because we are operating from a healthier, more neutral perspective, but also because we are far more in tune with our bodies and emotions.

So, to help yourself along the path to lasting change, as well as following advice from a qualified Nutritionist, take some time to tune into yourself and see if you can identify where and/or when these emotions originate from (you might be surprised).

With a bit of time and effort, it is absolutely possible to clear the negative emotions and programming which are holding us back and to implement balance and positive programming in their place, allowing us to move forward with greater ease and confidence.

Melanie holds the International Diploma in Integrated Healing, a revolutionary healing system that which works on the whole being (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) to release blocks to health, happiness and true wellbeing. Integrated Healing combines the best of modern Psychology, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Physiology, Applied Kinesiology, Traditional Chinese Medicine, complementary medicine (and many other therapies) with its own unique methodologies.

www.melaniehigginbotham.com

Are You Feeling Down?

Are You Feeling Down?

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These 5 simple self-care practices will help!

When it’s done right, self-love can help to improve your mental wellbeing and stop mental health problems taking control. Practising self-love and self-care is an important part of my life. It helps me manage my anxiety, improves my mood and overal happiness. As a mum of young children we are often made to feel guilty about putting our own needs first, to be honest, it is imposable sometimes. For me, my children will always be my priority but it doesn’t mean to say I should stop taking care of myself. I was Christy before I was mum and she still deserves a break. To be the best mum I can be it’s important for me to take care of you myself too.

There can be a lot of confusion around self-love and what it really involves but it’s basically all about being kind to yourself. This can take a lot of different forms, some of which aren’t always obvious as self-love. Here are a few self-love practices that work for me and may work for you.

Eating Nourishing Foods

What you choose to nourish your body with is a form of self love. A “self love” diet helps you to feel better, gives you more energy and can even help you to avoid health problems.

Believing that you’re worthy of this kind of self care and nourishment is the first step to making a big commitment to your health and wellbeing. When you feel that you’re a truly worthy recipient of self love, you’ll automatically start putting your health at the center of everything, especially nutrition. This means choosing foods that are good for your body and that help you to feel fuller for longer and keep your blood sugar levels stable.

A self-love diet doesn’t mean totally depriving yourself though, just as long as you take the cues from your body and stop when you’re full. It is always about balance!

Being “In Your Zone”

Having “me” time is really important for getting in your zone, even if it’s just for short periods at a time. Even five minutes of quality time “in your zone” is an underrated way to practice self love. How you get there is a personal choice – some people use meditation, mindfulness or their favorite music, for example. Anything that helps you to be in the present and focus your mind counts for this one.

Being Grateful for What You Have

If you’re not showing yourself self love, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people. This can be toxic for your mental health and is pretty much the opposite of self love. It can be a hard one to break if you’ve been in this mindset for a while but one way to do this involves gratitude.

Get into the habit of feeling grateful for all of the good things that you have in your life, whether that is health, a loving family or good friends. According to studies, writing in a gratitude diary at least once a week can help to make you feel happier, especially if you do it for around 15 minutes each time. Up it to three times per week and the results can be even better. The idea is that you list up to five things that you were grateful for on that particular day. This can be as simple as you like – in fact, being grateful for the simple things can work really well!

Having a Clear Out

Have a look around your home and see how many things you have that you don’t use anymore. For most of us, this is going to be more than you think! Clearing out anything you don’t need or use can be wonderfully therapeutic. A good rule of thumb is to throw out anything you haven’t used in the past year. Chances are, you’re not going to miss it too much if you’ve not used it for this long.

The theory behind this one is pretty simple and it’s all about getting rid of old things so that you can open the door to new alternatives. It can also help to cleanse your mind to this effect.

Walking in the Park

Getting closer to nature is a great way to practice mindfulness and a walk in the park is the perfect way to start doing this. Studies have shown that being in green spaces improves your mental health. If you live in a fairly built-up area, getting out to a park or other green space can be just what you need to clear your mind, especially if you combine it with mindfulness. Even poor mental health can potentially be improved with mindful walking.

Walks in the park also have the added bonus of bringing another self-care move into play – exercise! We all know about the “feel good” endorphins and other mental health benefits that exercise brings but walking in nature itself takes this up a notch. It helps to reduce anxiety and boost mood.

Getting out to your nearest park (or any green space if you don’t have one locally) can be a really underrated way to show yourself a bit more self love and help to keep your mental wellbeing in check.

What can you start doing today to help improve your own self-care? Share with me in the comments below or on my Facebook group NUTRITION MATTERS

Wishing you good health and happiness!

Christy xx

4 Simple Strategies to Lose Weight with a Healthy Mindset

4 Simple Strategies to Lose Weight with a Healthy Mindset

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When it comes to losing weight the healthy way, your mindset can play a big part in whether you are going to be successful. Approaching weight loss from the wrong perspective is one of the biggest reasons why so many people fail with diets and eating plans. And on the flip side, getting your mindset right can be a game changer for successfully losing weight.

Here are some mindset shifts that worked for me and could help you to supercharge your weight loss and keep the pounds off!

Think About Why You’re Doing It

Why you want to lose weight can make a lot of difference. Basing your reasons for being happier or looking good are a lot more likely to fail as there’s no saying that losing weight will actually make you feel good about yourself or bring you happiness.

Instead of choosing these kinds of reasons as your basis for weight loss, look at things differently. Think of your weight loss as part of a journey to becoming healthier and not just a means of getting to an end target. It’s a great opportunity to introduce healthy habits into your life that set the scene for both improving your health and losing weight into the bargain. When your ultimate goal is to live a longer and healthier life, weight loss will probably happen as a nice extra bonus as a result of these new habits.

Don’t Go for Broke

Trying to do too much too soon with your weight loss can work against you and this is one of the reasons why fad diets and drastically reducing your calorie intake aren’t successful in the long term. You might lose some weight, to begin with, but chances are, this will quickly tail off and depending on your mindset and eating habits, you might even start gaining more weight.

When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady tends to do a lot better than trying to lose weight as quickly as possible.

You’re a lot more likely to succeed if you go for smaller shifts that add up to bigger lifestyle changes. If you do them every day, they’ll soon become habits. This is more of a long game and you probably won’t see results straight away but there’s a better chance of actually achieving your weight loss goals compared to focusing on one big goal that could fail.

You want your healthy choices to feel natural and not like a chore or as though you’re depriving yourself and this is where healthy habits can really come into their own.

Breaking the Food-Emotions Cycle

One of the factors that can make it hard to lose weight involves emotional eating. We often eat when we’re not really hungry and because we’re feeling certain emotions. Breaking the link between your food and your emotions is a key mindset shift to master if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

Moving away from emotional eating helps you to react to genuine hunger cues so you’ll eat to fuel your body and not in line with how you’re feeling. Mindful eating is a great way to get back in touch with your body’s hunger signals but it can be a big challenge to master, especially if you’re used to emotional eating. Finding ways to address your emotions that don’t involve food can make a huge difference in being able to lose weight naturally.

Visualising Weight Loss Success

Visualisation can be a powerful technique for weight loss, especially if it’s combined with positive self-talk. How does visualisation work? The theory is that it helps to rewire pathways in the brain so it can be great for breaking habits and learning new ones.

To get the most from it, visualise yourself at your ideal weight, with your body fat transforming into a much more positive form of energy. Keep this mental image in mind as much as possible.

You can use positive affirmations and self-talk to highlight to yourself how you’ll feel when you get to this point. Don’t forget to focus on how you’ll feel with your health, fitness and wellbeing and not just how much better you’ll feel about being thinner.

Even though this is going to happen in the future, keep your self-talk in the present tense and not the future to make visualisation a more effective mindset shift. Tell yourself that you have the power to change your body through the power of your mind as the finishing touch.

Doing this every day can be a lot more effective than you might think.

Start making a plan for your life long goals for your health, not just the short-term ones.

I hope you found this blog useful and will be able to implement some of my tips. However, if you’ve been struggling to get in shape for some time, and you’re tired of trying new crazy diets that don’t work long-term, then I might have a solution. 

I am running a 30-Day Food for Thought Group Challenge starting 12th May. I have run several successful group challenges in the past. This challenge is focused around emotional eating, cravings, stress management and portion control. These are the key areas that can really affect your long-term success when trying to make healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Lots more information about the challenge can be found on my HOME PAGE. It will be packed with lots of useful content, eBooks, meal plan, recipes, weekly challenges and sooooo much more. If you need that extra accountability and motivation to reach your goals this will be a fantastic place to start making some BIG changes.

I hope you can join this amazing, growing community, where we will encourage and support each other along the way! What’s not to love!!

Best wishes,

Christy x

Are you in? 

Are you self-sabotaging?

Are you self-sabotaging?

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I used to have an all or nothing attitude when it came to my diet and the food that I ate, I either ate really well or really bad with nothing in between. So, when I was good, I thought I was being good – in fact it was the opposite of that. I restricted calories, skipped meals and exercised to excess. Guess what, it didn’t last long. I would feel low in energy, moody, lethargic, weak, couldn’t concentrate or focus on anything and generally felt miserable. The way I was eating was unsustainable long term and deep down I knew it. I would literally crash and burn and end up going on a massive binge, eating everything I had previously restricted myself from eating. I craved sugar and refined carbohydrates for energy. The initial rush of energy would feel good for a day or two until the guilt set in! The negative feelings I had about myself became worse I would feel like a failure and the horrible cycle of the yo-yo diet would start all over again.

Why would anyone want to put themselves through all that? Life is hard enough as it is juggling family, work and social commitments so why add self-torture (which is what this mentality is) to the list. I lived my life with the attitude that if I was being good then having a treat would undo all my hard work. My attitude was to hell with it, let’s just eat the entire cake, pizza, sweets, chocolate and anything else I could get my hands on. I would believe I had failed and ruined everything I had achieved so far, so why not! That attempt at one treat would turn into a month-long binge! I was self-sabotaging by falling into the mindset that I was only allowed to be good or bad never finding that healthy balance. This led me to a poor relationship food. Something I now see often in so many of my clients.

The biggest turning point for me was when I finally accepted that what I was eating and why I was eating the way I was, was down to so many factors. Stress, emotional eating and mindless eating all impact greatly on my day to day food choices. Not to mention hormones and lack of sleep to add to it! This is why it was important that I worked through those emotions, built new healthy non-restrictive habits that made me feel healthy and positively in control of my nutrition.

Creating the perfect plan for me meant that I had to no longer see myself following any kind of diet. SPOILER:  Diets DO NOT work long term! I now eat the foods my body needs for overall health and wellbeing. I no longer view a treat as a disaster, finding a healthy balance and knowing that consistency is what brings positive change, not perfection. For me now my diet is healthy 80% of the time. Generally, I eat well Monday to Friday and will enjoy a treat at the weekend. It’s not the entire weekend, maybe a pizza on a Saturday night with a bottle of wine. We can do a lot of damage over a weekend which can really impact your goals so you must be realistic. However, if on a random Tuesday afternoon, I fancied a treat or a glass of wine with my evening meal then I enjoy it, own it and move on. It is all about a healthy balance, with no damage done.

I now have the freedom to enjoy all foods from all food groups without the guilt. My mind is at ease and food is no longer all I think about anymore. I no longer feel anxious or nervous around food. I have the confidence now to make the best choices for me. Choosing food that makes me feel good! Food is meant to nourish our bodies, fuel us with the calories we need to function as human beings. It is not meant to be used as a way to punish ourselves through starvation or bingeing both of which have serious long-term side effects.

I recommend to all my clients to practice mindful eating as part of their journey to help overcome all the negative diet habits that develop over time some of which can be seriously deep routed. This is what really helped me find the healthy balance so I know it works.

So, what is Mindful Eating?

  • a peaceful eating relationship with food according to your body’s needs
  • eating to support your body’s natural healthy state
  • balance, choice, wisdom, and acceptance
  • eating consciously in a way to make our bodies feel well
  • being aware of our surroundings, mind, body, and spirit
  • being “in the moment”

Mindful eating is NOT about:

  • dieting
  • measuring or weighing food
  • restricting or avoiding foods
  • counting fat grams or calories
  • worrying about body size or the number on the scale’

Be aware of what your habits and mindless eating triggers are.  We all have them. Maybe it’s a stash of sweets in your desk drawer or eating while at your computer or on the phone. Maybe it’s when you come home from work and grab a bag of crisps or when you sit down to relax and watch a show on T.V. It could also be a trigger when you’re bored.  Think about what the triggers are for you, acknowledge it and make a plan to work on it.

For most of us, triggers come down to the habits that we have formed over the years. Many habits have us on autopilot without being consciously aware of the decisions we’re making. This is a great time to take a step back and evaluate which habits you’d like to change that will be more in alignment with your goals.

Mindful eating is an awareness that can take some time to acquire. It certainly does not come automatically for most of us.  Our environment is definitely working against us here, and so is the hectic pace so many of us are keeping.  Maybe this is a good time to evaluate some things that are causing a lot of stress and find ways to reduce it.  Stress affects us on every level – emotional, mental and physical. By taking steps to eat more mindfully, we can at least know that a few times each day we get to slow down and do something good for ourselves, our health and our bodies.

Do you suffer from self-sabotage? Are you stuck in the YO-YO diet revolving door?

As always if you need help and support to get away from the diet mentality then let me know. You can book a nutrition package with one to one personal support or simply book a free consultation call to discuss your situation and find out what tools I have in place to help you make that positive shift.

Best wishes,

Christy x

Prevention is Better than Cure

Prevention is Better than Cure

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Cold and Flu Fighting this Winter

Boosting your immune system all year will reduce your risk of catching colds or worse the dreaded flu during the colder months. Flu season peaks in the months of January and February within the UK and can cause serious illness for the young, old and at-risk groups. If you fall into one of these categories it is recommended you receive the flu jag. However, we can take steps to help ourselves by leading a healthy lifestyle by eating a nutrient dense diet, getting plenty of exercise, ensuring adequate sleep and keeping stress levels low.

Here are some of my top tips to help you boost your immune system this winter.

Eat your veggies Keeping your body well-nourished helps with more than just weight control; it also supports your body with energy, digestion, immune function and disease prevention.  One of the most significant things you can do to start implementing an immune-boosting diet is to add fresh, whole foods when possible.  Start with vegetables because they’re one of the foods that are typically missing in most diets (or we just don’t get enough of them) there are so many benefits for your overall health and well-being by consuming at least 5 servings of vegetables each day. Green fruits and vegetables are a nutritional powerhouse and contain lots of the vitamins (including A, C, K and folate) and minerals (even calcium!) we need every day. This includes magnesium and iron, which are highly beneficial for fighting tiredness and energy slumps. Leafy greens like spinach are also a good source of vitamins A, C and K, for strengthening your immunity, supporting your eye health and even helping other vitamins to be absorbed well. An array of green vegetables to choose from include: kale, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, celery, broccoli, cucumber, artichokes, leafy greens (lettuce varieties, collards), peas, and green peppers just to name a few. It’s not just veggies that add more greens to your plate though – don’t forget about your fruits such as green apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, limes, avocado. Foods from the yellow/orange group are also packed with vitamin C, a natural immune booster. Try pumpkin, oranges, pepper, cantaloupe, mango, squash, sweet potato, papaya, pineapple, carrots and lemon. Stocking up on citrus fruits during the colder months or start the day with a half lemon squeezed in some water each day all year round to boost your immunity.

 

 

Eat enough protein Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones. Protein is found in both animal and plant foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy products, legumes, grains and some vegetables. Try to include protein at each meal to feel the benefits.

 

 

Good Fats Consuming sufficient amounts of fat in the right forms and proper proportions have been shown to offer significant health benefits.  Among other things, it can strengthen the immune system. Healthy fats are found in foods such as meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, and oily fish, like salmon. Purchase the highest quality you can if your budget allows.

Other good fat sources include olive oil, coconut oil and avocado (i.e. olive oil as part of salad dressing; coconut oil for cooking, baking and more; and avocado in smoothies or on your sandwich or salad). Remember you only need to eat a little of these to get all the benefits from fat.

 

 

Exercise reduces infections Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.

Reducing stress There is a growing amount of research on the effect of stress on our physical bodies. For example, feeling overly worried can trigger stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine. It can also activate the “fight or flight” part of our nervous systems (called the “sympathetic” nervous system). When these are activated, they can physically suppress our immune systems, and make us more susceptible to infections. Try including 10 minutes of yoga or meditation each day to help reduce stress levels.

Improve the quality of sleep Poor sleep can lower immunity. If you seem to get every cough and cold going, your sleep habits may be to blame. Researchers deliberately exposed people to the common cold virus to see how likely they were to go on to develop a cold. Participants who had been sleeping for less than 7 hours per night had lower immunity and were almost 3 times more likely to be impacted. Even a small sleep debt has been linked to lower immunity.

Wash your hands regularly wash your hands to ensure you are not spreading germs. Germs can live for up to 8 hours on any surface, so getting into the habit of washing your hands after your morning commute particularly if you travel by public transport, after using the bathroom and avoid touching your face as much as possible.

 

 If you are struggling to implement any of these changes to your diet and lifestyle, please book a free consultation call with me and see how I can support you.

Best wishes,

Christy x

It is the best decision I have made in years

It is the best decision I have made in years

Blog Inspiration Testimonial

“I have followed every diet under the sun and my weight has gone up and down for years. No matter which diet I was on I always wanted to reach my goal weight so that I could stop starving myself! As soon as I came off the diet the pounds piled on again. Now I have found a way of eating that I know I can sustain for the rest of my life. The food is delicious and I never feel hungry. My friends are all commenting on how well I look and how much weight I have lost. I can’t thank Christy enough for introducing me to this way of eating.
So if like me you are fed up being on the diet yo-yo then take the plunge and contact Lose It and Love It.

It is the best decision I have made in years.

Thank you Christy.”

MOIRA PARK

To read more client testimonials click here.

Understanding Fermented Foods

Understanding Fermented Foods

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Your Quick Guide to Choosing the Ones That Are Right for You

Fermented foods are unique. For many years, fermenting was considered just a way to preserve food. Now we know that fermenting allows beneficial bacteria and sometimes yeast strains to build up in the food, turning it into a powerhouse of nutrients that helps the gut and the rest of the body.

Research does exist for fermented foods, plus there is a lot of historical information as to how they have been used in the past.

Most fermented foods are made with an anaerobic process, meaning the good bacteria build up lactic acid bacteria and other acids without oxygen. This means that there are no moulds or bad bacteria present.

Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, and cultured vegetables are generally made with a salt brine, although homemade versions can be made from whey (strained from yoghurt) or a vegetable starter.

Milk kefir, water kefir, and kombucha also use an anaerobic process but must be made with a “SCOBY” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). This means that both beneficial strains of bacteria and yeast are present.

Sourdough bread is made with a “starter” using an aerobic process. Oxygen is needed for the development of the wild yeasts. Wine and beer are also made with an aerobic process.

Most fermented foods contain various types of lactic acid bacteria which means they produce lactic acid. Wine and vinegars like apple cider vinegar or real balsamic vinegar have strains that produce acetic acid. All are beneficial.

As for the benefits, three different studies have compared the microbiomes of rural Africans, Japanese, and South Americans consuming a traditional diet with plenty of fermented foods. Researchers found that those consuming the traditional diet had higher levels of beneficial lactobacillus and bifidus strains and lower levels of pathogenic strains such as clostridium than people living in western urban centres.

Individually, each fermented food has been studied and found to be helpful in a number of ways. Some of the benefits for each fermented food are highlighted below. Learning more about each should make it easier for you to choose the right ones. However, the best way to choose is to try them.

How Do You Use Fermented Foods?

  • Fermented foods can be consumed on their own as a snack or served with a meal to aid digestion of the meal.
  • Kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, and pureed sauerkraut or sauerkraut juice work well in salad dressings, replacing some of the vinegar because they are all acids too, just not as strong.
  • Sauerkraut, cultured vegetables, and kimchi can be added to soups. Add after the soup has been ladled into the bowl.
  • Yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and beet kvass can be added to smoothies.
  • A delicious beverage can be made by adding fresh juice to water kefir or kombucha.

Are the Benefits of Fermented Foods Lost When Cooked?

No. You will lose the enzymes,  beneficial bacteria, and yeast strains. However, the microorganisms produce beneficial metabolites during the fermentation process, and these remain available to provide health benefits for the body. Also, the food that is fermented is somewhat predigested, and the nutrients in the food have been made more bioavailable. These benefits remain in the food even if it has been cooked.

What Is the Best Serving Size?

Try to consume 75g for sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, and kefir. For beverages such as water kefir and kombucha, 224 ml is a good amount. For beet kvass, 56–112 ml.

The Easiest Fermented Foods to Buy:

Many good-quality fermented foods are easy to find in the health food stores and many supermarkets. Real fermented foods, with the exception of wine, will be found in the refrigerated area. Those found on the shelf have been pasteurised and will no longer have the active bacteria. These are the ones you will most likely find:

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is made by “sweating” the juice out of the cabbage with salt to create a brine. This is a simple process of rubbing cabbage with the salt. All the benefits of cabbage are present but in a more bioavailable form. Other vegetables or herbs can be used to add to the flavour and to increase nutrient diversity.

Sauerkraut has many benefits. It is antimicrobial and antifungal, and the juice can be used to preserve other foods. Phytonutrients found in cabbage, known as isothiocyanates, may have anticancer benefits and may be helpful with ulcers.

Sauerkraut aids digestion and helps digestion of other foods in the meal. It also contains prebiotics which helps feed our own good bacteria.

Kimchi

The benefits of kimchi come from several key foods as it is a combination of cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, daikon radish, and hot red pepper powder (capsaicin). It helps carbohydrate metabolism, and the capsaicin in the red pepper powder may boost the body’s metabolism. It also contains the same isothiocyanates as sauerkraut which may help stomach cancer.

Kimchi can help boost the immune system. It aids digestion of all the food in the meal, has antimicrobial properties, aids intestinal health, and helps prevent constipation. A study found that Bacillus Pumilus, a strain found in kimchi, helped detox carcinogens and estrogen-mimicker Bisphenol A (found in plastic).

Kombucha

Kombucha is unique as it is made with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), tea (with caffeine), and sugar. It aids digestion, helps stabilise blood sugar, and has antimicrobial properties. It may also help with cholesterol, and it offers beneficial antioxidant protection.

Research of kombucha focusses on the polyphenols found in black tea. They are more bioavailable in kombucha which can explain a lot of the health benefits.

 

Milk Kefir

Milk kefir originated from the Caucasus mountains in Russia. Despite attempts to duplicate them, only kefir grains can make traditional kefir. They are a symbiotic combination of 32 strains of good bacteria (both lactic acid and acetic acid strains) and yeast strains.

Kefir has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce histamine, the chemical released during an allergic reaction. It may aid those who are lactose intolerant. Kefir is well-researched and has been shown to have anticancer properties, help reduce inflammation and stabilise blood sugar. It also helps inhibit candida albicans. And like all fermented foods, it aids digestion.

Kefir works best when made with cow and goat milk as the lactose and GOS help feed the grains. It can be made with coconut milk,  but some type of carbohydrate such as date puree must be added to feed the grains.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is one of the oldest fermented foods and is made from at least two to four strains of good bacteria. It is common to more cultures than any other types of fermented food except perhaps wine or cheese. Different cultures use different strains for making yoghurt. Cow, sheep, yak, goat milk – all have been traditionally used for yoghurt. In North America, yoghurt is typically made with the strains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Commercial yoghurt may be fermented in as little as an hour with thickening agents such as gelatin or modified cornstarch being added. In order to break down enough lactose and have a significant amount of good bacteria, yoghurt must be fermented for at least four hours or longer. Speciality yoghurts like Mediterranean and Greek are also popular –  both involve the process of straining whey to make it thicker. Zero per cent Greek yoghurt is made with non-fat milk. Whole milk yoghurts have more nutrients than low-fat Greek.

Real yoghurt should only contain two ingredients: milk and bacterial culture.

Studies on yoghurt are inconsistent – mainly because they do not specify what type of yoghurt was studied. What is known is that it aids digestion and helps support immune function. It may also be helpful for ulcers.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is made from a starter of flour and water that has been fermented by wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. A good starter or “sponge” can last for decades and be passed down from one generation to another. The fermentation process changes how the grain is used by the body.

It makes the nutrients in the grains such as zinc, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and phytonutrients more available to be absorbed into the body. The yeast actually produces the B vitamins (even in white bread). It also helps break down the gluten and starches making the bread more digestible. Many people who have digestive issues with wheat have no issues with sourdough bread made with wheat.

Research has shown that sourdough does not spike blood sugar and insulin release, even when made with white flour. One study found that consuming sourdough in one meal positively affected blood sugar for that meal and the next. (Breakfast may be the best time to consume it.)

Look for sourdough bread at local bakeries. Some supermarkets and health food stores are now selling sourdough bread. It may also be available online and sold frozen.

Wine and Beer

Is there a place for wine and beer in a healthy diet? Yes. Both are traditionally fermented foods. Both are low in alcohol (in comparison to hard liquor).

Beer

To be beneficial for gut health, beer must be unpasteurised. This ensures that the good bacteria and yeast are present. Many commercial beers are pasteurised so be careful when choosing. Beer contains B vitamins and silicon which blocks the uptake of aluminium and may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Beer also contains hops which are anti-inflammatory and may help with sleep.

Wine

The health benefits of red wine are well known: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-ageing,

anticancer, and may help prevent heart disease. This is due to the phytonutrients known as the polyphenols which also happen to be prebiotic and feed good bacteria in the gut.

Wine is traditionally served with a meal to aid digestion. Most studies are on red wine, but white wine has high phenolic values as well. As long as they are consumed in moderation, red and white wine can be part of a healthy diet.

Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar with mother (meaning it has the remnants of the apple in it) is a true fermented food. The same is true of an aged balsamic vinegar. There are other vinegars that are fermented, but these two are the easiest to find, have many health benefits, and are rich in nutrients. Even though we only consume a small amount, they are still worthwhile to add to our diet.

Don’t Forget About Cheese

All real cheese is made from a fermented process, but it’s the hard, aged cheeses like natural cheddar and parmesan that have the most benefits. The older the cheese, the more the lactose is broken down and the more enzymes and beneficial bacteria are present. Look for cheeses made from raw milk, preferably organic, as these are the very best. Milk has many properties that are good for the gut and consuming a fermented version makes it more digestible.

How Much Should You Consume?

A study looked at people who consumed at least three different types of fermented food and had at least five servings per week. The fermented foods were removed for two weeks, and the immune response was lowered. Yoghurt was added back first and while immune response improved, it did not return to previous levels until all the fermented foods were added back in. Quantity and diversity matter.

Easiest plan: Have a serving of one fermented food every day, and choose three different types to rotate throughout the week. For more tips on how you can improve your gut health check out my recent blog Better Gut Health & Well-Being

I created the Sugar Detox and Weight Loss plans to help provide my clients with the knowledge that allows them to understand how to support their bodies more effectively. Gut health is an ever-evolving topic. The research is coming so fast and furiously that it may seem impossible to keep up. My goal is to help you find the foods that work best for you.

Different cookie-cutter diets are being recommended, but the long-term results show that this doesn’t work. I focus on taking a more foundational approach allowing the body to correct itself. This requires patience and customisation.

For more details on my one to one coaching plans click here.

Best wishes,

Christy x

Better Gut Health & Well-Being

Better Gut Health & Well-Being

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Learning to support your gut and the beneficial bacteria that live there is the best thing you can do for your health.

The good news is that feeding the gut with foods can be fun. Good bacteria love so many delicious fruits, grains, legumes, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Beneficial fats found in butter, olive oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, avocado oil, and coconut oil provide nutrients that nourish the gut and, of course, protein is always needed to build a healthy home for the bacteria.

Maybe you react to certain foods. That is a sign you do not have the needed good bacteria to digest the food properly. Working on your gut health may help you to stop reacting. So, what do you have to lose? Feed your gut and feel the rewards.

In a perfect world, we would all have known more about the beneficial microbes in and on our body and how to look after them. We would know how to feed them, and we would be reaping the amazing health they help us achieve.

Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, and many of us live with results of poor gut management and the symptoms that go with it – gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and inflammation.

This is a complex issue, and what we know is that poor gut health is being linked as a factor to every other health condition. No matter what health condition you may have, being nice to your gut microbes should be part of any plan for repair and recovery.

Refined and processed foods:  They do not feed the microbes properly so that they can thrive and protect us.

Antibiotics: They deplete both good and bad bacteria and for some reason, the bad recover faster from antibiotic use than the good.

Other Medications: Corticosteroids, birth control pills, aspirin, ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) interfere with the mucus lining – the home of the good bacteria where they reproduce.

Stress: In today’s world, we run around like crazy with too many activities and responsibilities and it’s taking its toll. Amongst many other things, excess stress depletes good bacteria levels. In return, too much bad bacteria stimulates cortisol production, our main stress hormone.

Poor Sleeping Habits: Our gut bacteria sleep when we sleep, and just one night of no sleep can lower the quality and quantity of our gut microbes. Think about what it must mean when poor- quality sleep occurs night after night for many years.

Bad Digestive Habits: Chewing food properly is key to digesting good food properly. Forty-five per cent of the bacteria in the gut is seeded by the bacteria in the mouth. And to make sure the bacteria is primarily beneficial, we need to secrete lots of antimicrobial saliva to keep the bad bacteria levels low. Chewing stimulates saliva production and we need to chew more.

Exercise: Too little or too much doesn’t help us maintain our good bacteria levels. Moderate exercise on a regular basis is the best option.

What you need to know:

There are two types of beneficial bacteria:

Residential bacteria are native to you, and this is what you need to build and maintain long-term health.

Transient bacteria are found in probiotic supplements and fermented foods – they help while they are there, but they’re just passing through.

Do you suffer from foods sensitivities or allergies?

Food sensitivities are not caused by the food. They are a digestive issue due to lack of enzymes and/or lack of good bacteria. We do not know what strains any one person is missing, but we do know that different strains help us digest different foods. For example, lactose intolerance is due to lack of the good bacteria that helps break down lactose. Improving the quantity and quality of the strains will improve the ability to digest all types of foods.

What is dysbiosis?

It’s the name given to the condition in the gut when there is no longer the right ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria. The gut should have 85 per cent beneficial microbes. Anything less than this can result in symptoms, and as the ratio gets further out of balance, more symptoms occur. Dysbiosis has been linked to all major health conditions.

It’s residential bacteria that need to be re-established. Probiotic supplements can help in the short term, but the permanent solution is finding the right balance of foods and lifestyle that the gut requires to function at it best on its own.

What do residential bacteria like to eat?

They like fibre like FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), polyphenols, and resistant starch. Dairy products contain two types of food for bacteria – lactose and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) They also function best with lots of vitamins and minerals. So, load up on the fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dairy products.

The key to a healthy gut is increasing the number and diversity of strains. Different foods feed different strains so variety is the key.

 Instructions: Take a look at the suggestions in each section. Pick the ones that are easiest for you to add to your daily life. Add one at a time if that is what works best for you. The goal is to add more suggestions as you go until you find the right combination for you. Look for your digestive, elimination and energy functions to improve. To view the above table click on this link 3 Best Steps To Better Gut Health and Well.

If you need further help and support please get in touch with me.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

 

6 Simple Tips For Adding  Healthy, Whole Foods

6 Simple Tips For Adding Healthy, Whole Foods

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The dietary changes you’re making should not feel restrictive, overwhelming or hard to live with.

Most Britains have grown up on processed foods. This may be a big change for you, so take it a step at a time. Pick 1 or 2 changes to make now, and once those are in place, pick 1 or 2 more.  This is the best way to make it part of a lifestyle change and something you can totally live with.  

Transitioning to a healthier way of eating may seem daunting so here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Eat vegetables at most meals. Think salads, side dishes, soups, or even adding veggies to your sandwich or wrap.
  2. When you are having a craving for something sweet, opt for a serving of fruit to satisfy your craving.
  3. When you eat meat, it’s best to choose organic, grass-fed, and hormone-free so you get the maximum nutrients possible without the harmful pesticides residue, antibiotics, hormones, etc.
  4. Fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy food choices that are ready to eat and go. Snacks like nuts, seeds, or fruit are good for ‘grab and go’.
  5. Never leave the house without food if you’ll be gone for more than 2 hours. Remember, eating healthy foods on a regular basis will help you avoid unhealthy choices. Make up some of your own trail mix (avoid ready-made trail mix as most of them have hydrogenated oils and other undesirable, processed ingredients) or bring a small cooler to keep in the car.
  6. Most importantly, don’t be too rigid. Making small changes over time will make a huge difference and it makes the changes easier to stick to.

If you need some help implementing these changes, please get in touch here.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

How Food Can Affect More Than Your Weight

How Food Can Affect More Than Your Weight

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What you eat can affect many areas of your health from your mood to how well you sleep. Your body needs a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to keep you in great physical and mental condition so it’s important to nourish it with the right foods and drinks. Here’s how your food can affect your mood, sleep, concentration and even your chances of developing depression.

How Food Affects Your Mood

If your blood sugar fluctuates too much, it can leave you feeling tired and irritable. Ideally, you want to be eating foods that keep your blood sugar stable which includes complex carbs such as brown rice, oats and whole grains. Nuts and seeds are also great for this.

Some foods can have a direct effect on your mood too. Fatty fish is packed with omega 3 fatty acids that affect the production of neurotransmitters in your brain, especially serotonin and dopamine. Both of these have a really strong link with your mood and low levels are linked to mood disorders. Fatty fish isn’t the only food that gives you an omega 3 boost; flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts also count. For dopamine, make sure you’re getting plenty of poultry, fish, eggs and leafy greens in your diet.

Protein is another nutrient that can affect your mood. A lot of foods with protein contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can help your body to produce more serotonin and dopamine. Chicken and turkey are good sources but if you’re a vegetarian, you can eat beans, lentils and quinoa to reap the benefits.

What you’re not eating can also be important. According to studies, not getting enough folate or B vitamins, in general, can make you more prone to depression and have a negative impact on your sleep and energy levels. Greens are a great source of folate so be sure to include plenty of leafy greens, broccoli and peas if you’re struggling with low mood.  Low selenium levels are also linked to fatigue, anxiety and even depression. Snack on walnuts or a handful of Brazil nuts to get your selenium levels up.

Depression may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain but some nutrients are thought to make this more likely, especially if you’re deficient in them. For example, low levels of vitamin D are linked to a higher risk of depression and experts believe that getting enough vitamin D can be crucial for a healthy mind. Natural sunlight is the best option but you can also get vitamin D from your diet through fatty fish, eggs and liver. This is the better option when the sun isn’t out in colder climates.

How Food Affects Sleep

You might not realise it but what you eat can have a big impact on how well you sleep. Some foods are known to encourage sleep because of the nutrients they contain and anything containing magnesium is a good bet, according to studies. Need a magnesium boost? Go for leafy greens (especially spinach), almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and high-quality dark chocolate.

Another important nutrient is vitamin B6, which your body uses to make both melatonin and serotonin. If you’re not aware of melatonin and its role in the body, it’s known as the “sleep hormone”. This gives you an indication of how important it is for sleep! Our melatonin levels can be disrupted by “blue light” from screens and devices and as low levels of melatonin can make it hard to sleep well, it’s definitely something you want to be producing a decent amount of.

When it comes to melatonin, tryptophan helps here too (not just with mood!) as it helps your body to make more melatonin.  Chicken, turkey, milk, nuts and seeds all contain tryptophan and can help more melatonin be produced.

How Food Affects Concentration

If you find yourself struggling with concentration and focus, it’s time to look at your diet and whether you’re eating foods that are known to help.

A 2013 study found that people who were drinking 2 cups of cacao every day for a month were able to improve blood flow to their brains, which led to better results in memory tests. If you’d rather not drink a cup of cacao, a square of high-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao) can have a similar effect as long as there aren’t high sugars or other additives.

In a 2012 report, drinking blueberry juice daily for two months also led to better performance on memory and learning tests. This means that snacking on blueberries can be perfect if you need a focus boost!

And of course, there’s always water! Dehydration can cause tiredness and concentration problems, even if you’re only slightly dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water could be all you need to get more focused if dehydration is the problem.

Food wise, the omega 3 fatty acids in salmon can reduce cognitive decline and keep your brain sharp and focused. Another good reason to eat fatty fish a couple of times per week!

Now that you know how food impacts your mood, what did you notice you might need to add to your diet this week to counteract your nutritional imbalance?

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

Is Not Enough Sleep Making You Fat?

Is Not Enough Sleep Making You Fat?

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Sleep is one of the best things you can do from a self-care perspective but it’s also one of the areas that are most likely to be neglected. 

The recommended amount of shut-eye is eight hours a night (preferably more!) but lots of us are falling far short of this and it’s having a massive impact on almost every aspect of wellbeing, from health to weight. You can live healthily in every other area of your life but unfortunately, it’s probably not going to do much to counteract the damaging effects of poor sleep habits.

Here’s a look at why getting enough sleep is so crucial for your health and wellbeing, and why diet alone can’t undo the effects of not sleeping well.

Sleep Duration Versus Sleep Quality

We’re always being told how many hours we should be sleeping each night but is it definitely enough even if we can manage to achieve it?

Sleep quality refers to how well we sleep and is a completely different prospect to how long we sleep.  It’s pretty easy to tell how long you sleep but the quality of it is a bit harder to determine.

Poor sleep quality means that you’re not sleeping in line with your circadian rhythm or going through all of the important sleep phases (particularly with REM sleep).

Some of the signs that your sleep quality isn’t as good as it could include:

  • Waking up during the night
  • Not waking up naturally e.g. you have to be abruptly awoken by your alarm clock most mornings

Sleep and Health

What exactly does your body experience when you don’t get enough sleep? Pretty much everything is affected but here are some of the more serious effects that poor sleep patterns can have on your health:

  • Lower immunity. If you seem to get every cough and cold going, your sleep habits may be to blame. In one study, researchers deliberately exposed people to the common cold virus to see how likely they were to go onto develop a cold. Participants who had been sleeping for less than 7 hours per night had lower immunity and were almost 3 times more likely to be impacted. Even a small sleep debt has been linked to lower immunity.
  • Higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have looked at the link between lack of sleep and developing heart disease and stroke and it’s a scary connection. Getting less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night means a higher chance of developing Coronary Heart Disease or having a stroke – and dying from it.
  • Higher risk of diabetes. A sleep debt can pave the way for developing Type 2 diabetes.  In this study, just a week of not sleeping well-reduced insulin sensitivity and raised concerns about whether consistently sleeping badly might open the door to developing health issues linked to insulin resistance.
  • Increased inflammation. Inflammation is now linked to lots of different health problems and can be increased by sleep loss.

Sleep and Cognition

You’ve no doubt heard that eating the right foods can boost your brain health but it’s not just diet can affect your memory and concentration.

Sleep is an important factor too, and lack of sleep has been shown to impair them. In fact, one study has suggested that even moderate sleep issues can be as damaging as alcohol in affecting performance!

The deeper stages of sleep are particularly vital when it comes to clear thinking, focus, memory and learning. This is when your brain does a lot of its mental ‘sorting’, such as filtering out information that isn’t really needed right now. It doesn’t sound a lot but it all adds up to better cognition and performance.

Sleep and Weight Gain

If you don’t sleep well, it can be a lot harder to maintain a healthy weight. The main problem? It sends your metabolism a little bit crazy and can ruin your good intentions for eating well.

Lack of sleep has a big effect on hormones that are linked to appetite – namely leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps to keep your appetite in check while ghrelin does the opposite.

Ideally, you want to have more leptin and less ghrelin but not getting enough sleep throws this balance out and effectively switches them around. This means you’re a lot more likely to overeat, even when you’re technically full. And you’ll find it harder to shift stubborn fat on your stomach, as sleep deprivation encourages fat to build up in this area in particular.

Improving Your Sleep Quality

  1. Some of the things you can do to try to get better quality sleep each night include: Making your room as dark as possible to support your circadian rhythm. Pitch black (or as close to it as you can get) is best.
  2. Setting a bedtime routine that involves going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at a specific time each morning.
  3. Switching off electronic devices at least an hour before bed (even your phone!) to reduce the amount of ‘blue light’ you’re exposed to just before bedtime. This ‘blue light’ means your body finds it harder to produce enough of the sleep hormone, melatonin, to help you sleep well.

If you haven’t been seeing sleep as a key part of your wellness routine, it’s definitely time to change that!

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

How to Master the Mind-Body Connection to Improve Health and Overall Well-Being

How to Master the Mind-Body Connection to Improve Health and Overall Well-Being

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Have you ever felt a “pit” in your stomach, or a change in your appetite when you’re stressed? Have you felt your heart and mind race when you’re afraid? Have you felt calm and tranquil when you’re blissfully enjoying life’s moments?

These are examples of the mind-body connection.

Science has begun to recognise the connection between the mind and the body, and how our thoughts and feelings can directly affect our physical health. These connections have been suspected (even observed) by many patients and healers throughout the centuries.

The “mind” we’re referring to includes the mental states of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.

The mind and heart are thought to form the “psycho-emotional” roots of health and disease.

Here’s the great part; The more we understand the connection between the mind and body, the more we can use it to our advantage to improve our health and our lives. Exciting stuff!

Thoughts and Emotions

It’s been said that negative emotions like anger, fear, guilt, and sadness can contribute to imbalances in our body, and eventually manifest as disease. Sometimes when we feel these emotions, our bodies react with digestive issues, aches and pains, and in other physical ways as well. Have you experienced this before?  I know it’s happened to me plenty of times.

This powerful link between our minds and bodies is the fascinating observation that improving one’s mood and outlook can reduce inflammation and even improve cancer survival! Pretty fascinating, right?

The “law of attraction” is a similar concept. It’s about using the power of the mind to transform our thoughts into reality. Have you ever focused your attention on something negative that you’re sure will happen… and it eventually does? Or the opposite; you’re hoping and working toward an amazing goal, focusing your mental energy on it, and you finally reach it? These are referred to as the power of the law of attraction.

Thoughts and emotions carry vibrations throughout our bodies. These vibrations can affect our cells. This is because our cells, hormones, and neurotransmitters are all made from atoms and molecules that are in a constant state of motion. This motion within our mind has a frequency that can influence other frequencies in our bodies.

The Physiology of the Mind-Body Connection

There is a growing amount of research on the effect of stress on our physical bodies. But, how is this feasible? What physical channels are there that can possibly link the mind and the body?

Direct links between the mind and body include the nerves and biochemical compounds (i.e. hormones, neurotransmitters, etc.). Both of these travel between the brain and the body sending messages in all directions.

Different mental states influence our physical health for the better or worse. For example, feeling overly worried can trigger stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine. It can also activate the “fight or flight” part of our nervous systems (called the “sympathetic” nervous system). When these are activated, they can physically suppress our immune systems, and make us more susceptible to infections. They can affect our heartbeat and breathing. Over the long run, they are thought to worsen heart and other health issues.

In fact, scientists have mapped out different areas in our brains and bodies that are activated when people experience different emotions.

One study showed that people who repress emotions are more likely to have an imbalance in the stress hormone cortisol than people who express their emotions. It’s thought that long-term psychological stress can even increase our risk of cancer and heart disease.

Emotions can indirectly affect our physical bodies as well. Oftentimes, how we feel affects the way we behave – whether we turn to or away from healthy foods, exercise, and sleep. Over the long-run, these habits and behaviours can take a toll on our physical health. These work in the other direction as well, whereby after we eat, exercise, and/or sleep, we feel different emotions than we did beforehand.

Think about what you do when you’re feeling stressed or sad.  Do you turn to (and devour) sweets and maybe skip your workout, for example? It’s also possible that you lose your appetite during times of stress. Do you find it easier to stay on track with your food choices and exercise routine when you’re happy and content?  These are examples of the mind-body connection too.

Mind-Body Practices for Optimum Health

There are many practices we can take on to help foster calmer minds, inner peace, and lead to a higher level of physical health and wellness.

These include:

  • Mindfulness meditation,
  • Yoga,
  • Tai chi,
  • Acupuncture,
  • Massage therapy.

Mind-Body Practices – Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation helps to focus the attention on the present moment. It’s an ancient practice that can help calm the mind and relax the body.

Meditation is also used to reduce fatigue, lower feelings of stress, help improve mood and sleep, and help cope with pain and illness. It can help to focus attention and increase self-awareness.

Modern neuroscience has associated the meditative state with changes in the electrical function of the brain.

Meditation is considered a safe practice for healthy people. If you have physical limitations, then there may be some movement-based practices that should be avoided.

To begin non-movement based meditating, there are many free videos, audios, and apps available that can guide you through meditation. Three great apps (available on iOs and Android) include Head Space, Calm, and The Mindfulness app.  My personal fave is Head Space, but check out different ones to see what you like best.

“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realising that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.”

~ Pema Chodron

Mind-Body Practices – Yoga

Yoga combines the use of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. It is sometimes used to help reduce pain and improve moods.

Yoga is considered safe in healthy people when practised appropriately. Some people should avoid certain poses, so working with an experienced instructor who can suggest safe modifications is recommended.  If you’re brand new to yoga, it can feel a bit intimidating, so one option is to start with a yoga DVD (Amazon.com has a good selection) or check out streaming online yoga classes.  Just search “streaming yoga classes” and you’ll find a bunch. My favourite is Yoga With Adriene.

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more into our lives.”

~ Cybele Tomlinson

Mind-Body Practices – Tai Chi

Tai chi is a centuries-old mind-body practice that involves specific gentle movements with mental focus and breathing.

Research shows that practising tai chi improves balance and stability, and can reduce the risk of falls. It can also help with pain, fatigue, and moods. You can look for tai chi classes in your area, purchase DVD’s or check out streaming videos.

“Tai chi does not mean oriental wisdom or something exotic. It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own mind and body together as one process.”

~ Chungliang Al Huang

Mind-Body Practices – Acupuncture

Acupuncture comes from traditional Chinese medicine. It’s a technique that uses thin needles strategically inserted into the skin at specific points on the body.

It is used to help with many types of pain.

Acupuncture is generally considered safe when a well-trained experienced practitioner uses sterile needles.

“Broadly speaking, acupuncture has three primary effects:

  • It relieves pain.
  • It reduces inflammation.
  • It restores homeostasis.” ~ Chris Kresser

Mind-Body Practice – Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a very popular mind-body practice. Massage therapists work on muscle and other soft tissues to help you to relax and feel better.

There is some evidence that it can help with certain types of pain, as well as reduce fatigue and stress, promote relaxation, and improve moods.

Massage therapy seems to be a safe practice when performed by a trained practitioner.

Conclusion

The way you think and feel can help to feed health or disease. Your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions can affect your body directly (through nerves and hormones) and indirectly (by influencing habits and behaviours).

Some of the common health concerns that many people use mind-body practices are fatigue, stress, pain, and moods.

There are many different mind-body practices including, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

What can you start implementing today?

I love helping my clients figure out ways to reduce stress and help them recognise the mind-body connection and how it may affect their overall health and happiness.

It’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any type of health practice. When choosing a practitioner to guide you through a mind-body practice, ensure they are qualified and experienced and can make any modifications necessary to support your current state of health.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy