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Eating to thrive – make your body sing!

Gluten Free. Dairy Free. Meat Free. Caffeine Free. Sugar Free. Fat Free. Salt Free. Grain Free.

So many ‘diets’ to choose from these days. Paleo with a touch of Fructose free? Vegan with a touch of Fat free? Sugar free with a side of alcohol plus weekly fasting?

Which combination is the ultimate health giver?

In the 14 years since I graduated with my Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy, diet fads have come and gone, like tides in the ocean.

Scientific research has supported notions of some dietary approaches and debunked others. Large industries have paid to have research sway in their direction to continue a profitable business. Companies have failed to reveal their processes and ingredients to keep sales up and inside knowledge down.

The truth has been hard to come by.

The food industry has become an enormous, booming corporate affair, leaving society confused, overwhelmed and more malnourished than ever before.

My feeling is, we have over complicated every aspect of our self-nourishment.

The time has well and truly come to re-establish a healthy and enjoyable relationship with food, fueled from empowerment and unbiased education.

Susan Levin, is a director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee, and conducts clinical research studies, publishing dietary reviews about the connection between diet and health. In particular, she advocates plant based eating.

“If you could bottle up a plant-based prescription, it would become a blockbuster drug overnight. This way of eating creates an efficient energy source not just for the planet, but for our bodies.

What other drug increases metabolism, lowers blood pressure, stabilizes blood sugar, and instead of increasing the risk for heart disease or diabetes – stops it in its tracks?”

She raises a very good point.

So, without factoring in, personal allergies, malabsorption’s, intolerance’s or carnivore Vs vegetarian choices, let us simplify our eating, into two categories.

  1. Choice of food
  2. Quality of food.

None of what I am about to share with you will surprise you. The reason being, it is simple.

We often feel complexity and thorough research is what provides sound advice….

However, it is my belief that simplicity is the key and honouring yourself enough to dedicate time and commitment is the answer.

*A) What we select to put into our gorgeous mouths, to be absorbed by our superb bodies is a choice. A choice which is a privilege and an empowering indication of the freedom of being human in this day and age.

We have an abundance of choice. As consumers and buyers – our power in influencing the way in which the planet and our health is headed, is enormous.

Sadly, most modern-day inhabitants on the earth, are choosing convenience over quality. Numbers over Nutrients. Colours, additives and flavours over simplistic sweetness of nature.

I believe, what we choose to put into our being, is an accurate representation of how much we value and respect, not only ourselves, but the planet we call home.

Have we become so lazy that we don’t care for the tonnes and tonnes of rubbish mounting up on our stunning sphere?

Would we rather buy a ready made, nutritionally empty, chemically laden meal, wrapped in plastic, with a ten year best before date – simply because it’s all too hard? Then turn a blind eye to the effects this ‘meal’ has on our own cells, organs and immunity?

I sincerely hope this trend is vastly approaching the other side of ‘trendy.’

So, what is a making a clever choice?

As I tell my own children – if you can’t tell what is was in the natural world – best you don’t eat it.  Obvious examples here might be junk food, BBQ Shapes / Twisties etc. Yes, they might be a chemically enhanced concoction of deliciousness, but what on earth comprises their make up?  A good rule of thumb here is, if there are more numbers and words you can’t pronounce in the ingredients than ‘real foods’ – best put it back on the shelf…

In fact, when it comes to choices – most foods in a packet really are questionable.  Not only have they had to be ‘modified’ on some level to allow them a shelf life, but they are so far removed from their natural source that most vitality and nutrition have evaporated.

In effect – the food that you then put into your buzzing, vibrating, vibrant body, is dull…lifeless and void of life affirming nourishment.

A clever choice may involve all or any of the following:

  • Eating seasonally – waiting patiently for fruits and vegetables to honour their natural rhythms and tailoring your ‘meal plan’ to this ancient and wise way of eating.
  • Eating Locally – get to know your local farmers, support your local community, prevent food miles and become carbon friendly. Simply by eating what thrives in your native habitat.
  • Eat all the colours of the rainbow – take the guess work out of nutrition and eat every vibrant colour you can find in vegetable and fruit form.
  • Buy only whole foods – ensure that your food choices are not tampered with.
  • Avoid Chemicals – the long-term effect of consuming laboratory compounds is so detrimental. Not only for your liver, your kidneys and your blood, but also for the planet.
  • Eat as many plants are possible – when grown appropriately, this ‘category’ of food is the most life affirming, nutritious, nourishing and cleansing way of fuelling your body. Thinks veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds…
  • Learn to cook from scratch – true, it can be more time consuming, but the joy and intention that you can then infuse into your meal is priceless. Treat your food like your friends, cherish it, bless it and honour it – for it is what keeps you alive.

 

*B) Where our food is grown and under what conditions, is paramount not only to its nutritional content but also its energetic vibration.

As I have shared with many children, when reading my published picture story book – The Incredible Edible Garden, the quality of our food begins with the environment in which it is grown.

Taking the modest tomato, for example. If the tomato seeds are sown in rich, mineral dense soil this translates into the productivity and longevity of the seeds potential. When infused with these key ingredients, from conception, the seedling then has maximum strength to push through the soil and reach the sunlight.

Lovingly tendered to, in the natural environment, without the use of chemicals to permeate the delicate skin, with all the elements to support its vitality, the tomato plant thrives. Then harvested when plump, red and in season, this tomato is truly embodying food as medicine – laden with nutrients, energy and the environmental ‘pulse.’

Under the energy of the sun, nourished with the rain and strengthened by the earth – this tomato not only embodies powerful and heightened nutrition, it tastes vibrant and vital.

Taking it one step further – studies are now revealing that showing love, kindness and talking to your plants, also stimulates their growth and vitality. The Royal Horticultural society supporting this notion, after conducting their own experiments! https://www.thespruce.com/should-you-talk-to-your-plants-3972298

Compare the above tomato seedlings existence to one that is grown, on mass. Cramped into factories designed to ‘mimic’ nature – soil designed to be ‘chemically accurate’ – no natural light, air, rain or influencing elements such as wind to create strong roots or bugs to enhance resilience. Picked prematurely, green, hard and unloved, having had no connection to the natural world. Shipped off to be ‘ripened’ at some point along the way.

The latter tomato is simply an example of a wider trend that is happening to our food source globally. As you can probably gather, I am passionate about our foods quality.

Quality does not come from mass production.

Quality does not come from eating foods that are imported and shipped for months from the point of picking to the point of sale and ingestion.

Quality does not come from artificial environments.

Quality does not come from chemically enhanced and falsified foods.

Quality does not come from foods that have never had sunlight warm their being.

If you gift yourself the opportunity to only purchase foods that are truly alive… your body and being will surely sing for you in gratitude.

 

Affirmation – I now make loving choices to nourish myself and I feel my body sing.

 

 A little challenge for you…

«As a present to yourself – attempt for two weeks to honour all that is discussed above – feel the effects – not only in your being but in your footprint on the planet.

«Borrow a whole food cook book from the library.

«Ensure your fridge and consequent meal plan is loaded with a rainbow of colours and plants.

«Attempt to visit a ‘bulk’ store armed with empty Tupperware to fill with rice / oats / quinoa etc and skip the packaging.

«Rejoice in eating – as a way of allowing your being to sing. A snippet from a verse my daughters sing as a blessing before they eat at their school ‘ For I am eating rain and sun…”

 

 

Photo – thank you @talinegabriel

Movement – a lost art….

Many moons ago, movement was never a choice for humanity…it was essential for survival. To hunt and gather food, to relocate to greener pastures and better weather, to find water and to tend to crop and livestock, all required, continual movement.

Nowadays, we have decided movement is a chore, something we ‘should’ do, but often put at the VERY bottom of our priority list and in some cases, avoid at all costs.

Sedentary is an understatement.

This attitude is detrimental, for so many reasons. However, I attempt to be a positive person, so in place of outlining why lack of physicality is a huge backward step for our existence; (ie. Being inactive ranks closely behind smoking for contributing to ill health…. !!!) I am going to share instead why movement is marvellous!

Now it’s not all lyrca and lulu lemon! This fashion revival of “Active Wear” (which is rarely put through its paces mind you) I feel, has created an even bigger void between our couch and the great outdoors. The stigma that movement or exercise requires a taut and trim body, clad with branded clothing and an elite yoga studio, is depressing.

Somehow, Somewhere, the joy of movement got sucked into a vortex of consumerism and selfies.

Let’s wash that filtered, Instagram, heavily unrealistic, photoshopped notion – right out of our hair!

Movement, as the dictionary states is “the act or process of moving; especially: change of place or position or posture.” No need for fancy foot wear for that, hey?

When we move, not only are we keeping our muscles strengthened, our lymphatic system pumping, our blood flowing and our organs massaged – we are actively supporting our mental health concurrently.

A research article published from Harvard Medical School supports this stance.

‘While it is obvious that your feelings can influence your movement, it is not as obvious that your movement can impact your feelings too. For example, when you feel tired and sad, you may move more slowly. When you feel anxious, you may either rush around or become completely paralyzed. But recent studies show that the connection between your brain and your body is a “two-way street” and that means movement can change your brain, too!”[1]

At one point in time, we have all had to ‘walk something off’ or “clear our head.”  Exercise not only re-oxygenates the body, renewing our cellular response, but allows for a clear perspective.

The gentle art of movement can offer the opportunity for pent up energy and emotions to be released and grounded. Movement has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, increasing the production of feel good neurotransmitters and happy brain chemicals.

The positive effects exercise can have on our being extends far and wide – from increased longevity and balanced hormones to decreased inflammation and lower disease risk.  Our body truly thrives on moving!

So, with all these life-giving benefits, why do we still resist!?

One big hurdle seems to be not so much motivation but a lack of va va voom! It is not uncommon for a client to share with me in clinic, that “I would love to exercise and move more, I just don’t have the energy.”  If I had a dollar…

We have sculptured our lives to be oh so hectic and this usurpingly effects our energy levels.  Often, many of us are running on an empty tank and have been dipping very heavily into our reserves for quite some time.

This is where Mitochondria – the little power houses within our cells – come into play. These structures work tirelessly to convert the energy gained from food into viable energy to power our muscles and support our bodies tissues.

What do they have to do with energy and movement I hear you ask?

When we move and exercise, we make more mitochondria…more of these fabulous cells equates to more energy. An article from  https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/exercise-increases-productivity/ sums this up perfectly.

“Mitochondria produce the chemical that your body uses as energy, known as ATP. Physical exercise stimulates the development of new mitochondria within your cells, meaning that your body will be able to produce more ATP over time. That gives you more energy to exert yourself physically, but it also means more energy for your brain, boosting your mental output.

In short – the more we move or enhance our physicality, the more energy our body creates, so the more oomph we have to go about our days. Mentally, Physically and Emotionally.

So how much is enough? How often do we need to move, to reap the rewards?

The Australian Government Department of Health recommends adults from the age of 18 and above would ideally benefit from “Accumulat(ing) 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity OR 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.” [2] Say what?!?

In simple terms, over the course of a 7-day week, dedicating just 30 minutes daily to movement, will enhance your well-being and longevity enormously.

This doesn’t need to become intense and over achieving exercise each and every day – mix it up. Start to tune into your body and ask what would support your being on this given day.

Carve out some time in your schedule to prioritise simply moving, and then choose…Perhaps a stroll on the beach, perhaps an impromptu dance off in the kitchen or perhaps a more structured approach like taking a class.

Personalise your style of physicality. Make it work for you. Then allow the benefits of more lubricated joints, stronger muscles, a happy heart and improved mental clarity support you to further Flourish.

Affirmation – Moving my being allows me to feel free, strong and joyful in body, mind and spirit.

 A little Homework:

Choose from the following list of some types of movements – pick your favourites – alternate to maintain interest – grab a friend and simply begin.  Join a local group, roll out a matt in your lounge room, borrow a DVD, make a promise to your dog, join in the with your kids, cycle to work, try on your old rollerskates…

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Running
  • Nia
  • Martial Arts
  • Karate
  • Capoeira
  • Belly dance – ANY dance
  • Rock climbing
  • Hiking
  • Cross Fit
  • Boot camp
  • Parkour
  • Volleyball
  • Softball
  • Basketball
  • Athletics
  • Pilates
  • Soccer
  • Yoga
  • Skipping

[

 

Kindness to self – a requirement not a luxury

“KINDNESS MATTERS BECAUSE KINDNESS IS LOVE AND LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED.”

Kindness has become a buzz word lately, and with good reason – humans overall have needed to be reminded of the importance of gentleness and kind heartedness. Now more than ever, I feel that this lovely concept is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

I often hear my clients speak harshly and with little affection towards themselves. However, when asked if they would every speak this way to their 5-year-old child, they recoil in horror!! ‘Of course not, – that would be terrible?!’
MMMmmmm – so why is it ok to speak this way to ourselves as grown women/men? Because we are adults and can handle it? Because we believe it to be arrogant or self-centred to love ourselves? Because someone, somewhere has made us believe that this negativity is the truth?

Whatever the story or justification, what many of these superb women and men fail to remember, is that their gorgeous five-year-old self, IS still with them, is still eavesdropping to every single word and consequently, does feels terrible….

So, without casting judgement, lets together make a pact to NOT treat ourselves as if we don’t matter. For every cell, every nerve ending, every muscle, every organ, hears and feels our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and behaves accordingly.

Take for example, your lovely legs. How many of you have at some point criticised their look, feel or texture? Deemed them not good enough…. Not thin enough…. Not shapely enough?
I invite you now, to ponder all your legs have allowed you to do, just today… beginning with the basics such as supporting you to get to the bathroom from bed…. then perhaps a walk with the dog in the fresh air, followed by driving your family to their destinations, even climbing some stairs to get to work?

These gorgeous legs have done all of this for you. But instead of a thank you, I love you – they might have been met with unkind thoughts and damaging energy.

To put this into inter personal realms…If you have a colleague at work who continually passed judgement on every act you did, they way you dressed, the way you worked, the look of your desk etc – would you be inclined to work at maximum capacity? Would you emit glowing wonderful energy and turn up to work every day vibrant, healthy and happy? Unlikely.

Your body is no different. When we treat our body and ALL parts of ourselves with kindness and gratitude, approaching all the unique delights it processes with appreciation and love, the energy that is cultivated is clear, glowing and bright.

When we are unkind, mean and neglectful of ourselves and our attitudes towards self, the outcome is not vibrancy. In fact, it can lead to dull and flat energy, limited enjoyment of the everyday and restricted cellular health and wellbeing.

A leading expert in Self Compassion, Dr Kristin Neff extends this further suggesting “self-kindness involves more than just stopping self-judgment. It involves actively comforting ourselves, responding just as we would to a dear friend in need. It means we allow ourselves to be emotionally moved by our own pain, stopping to say, “This is really difficult right now. How can I care for and comfort myself in this moment?”

With self-kindness, we soothe and calm our troubled minds. We make a peace offering of warmth, gentleness, and sympathy from ourselves to ourselves, so that true healing can occur.”
An article in The Washington Post, titled Be kinder to yourself: Research shows it could make you healthier revealed a study that further supports the notion that self-kindness is hugely beneficial for not only our health but our reactivity to life’s stressors.

The 2017 study was published in Health Psychology Open and “found that people who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to handle stress better — they have less of a physical stress response when they are stuck in traffic, have an argument with their spouse or don’t get that job offer — and they spend less time reactivating stressful events by dwelling on them.”

Kindness is a lovely, free and achievable step towards Flourishing. The simple act of gentleness, warmth and compassion for the self and of course others, is a healing modality that is paramount in cultivating wellness.

Not only does it help to release lovely endorphins which act as a natural pain killer, “Like most medical antidepressants, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin.
This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you happy!… Kindness also creates emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.”

When we are kind to our body, it is kind to us.

Kindness is contagious and lies the foundation for maintaining a loving, nurturing relationship with the self.

When we are kind to ourselves, we make loving choices. We nourish ourselves thoughtfully. We honour our being. We invite vitality, warmth and authenticity.

Affirmation – I now honour and value myself. Self-kindness comes naturally and with great joy.

Busy is not better – the fallacy of success

We seem to find ourselves in a vortex of busy in this current age – whereby if you are not ‘under the pump’ or ‘flat out’ you simply have no value or success.
I strongly and fiercely disagree with where our society is headed in this regard.
When did this notion, of a hectic diary, equate to having ‘made it?’ Whereby when you ask someone ‘how are you?’ a reasonable answer, that reflects the esteem of where they are in life is… – ‘so swamped it’s ridiculous!’
If Mary is running around like a headless chook, with more on her to do list than is humanly possible; phone calls to make, emails to return, a business to run, food shopping to grab, children to care for, activities to attend, meals to cook, a partner to support and love, friends to connect with… people pleasing…. – where in that picture is there room for the quiet moments of gratitude? The opportunity to listen to the whispers of the heart? The tranquility to take a breath?

What concerns me the most, is that we have lost and buried what success there can be in stillness.
As Rebecca Campbell so beautifully articulates “I forced myself to work ridiculous hours, in a n effort to prove myself and not appear weak. I pushed down my sensitivities and innate intuitive wisdom, in order to climb the linear (corporate) ladder. Ignoring my body’s natural rhythms in favour of endurance.”
It is so common to now read in many new age books, that change became a necessity, when being frantic developed into ill-health. The moment in which the chaos of life weighed down so heavily on people, they found themselves sobbing – begging for answers, lost to what mattered… and from this rock bottom place, simplicity and transformation ensued.

However, what if we prevented this middle phase. What if it was – and is – possible to come to a greater sense of clarity and depth of understanding, minus the melt down and heart ache.
Cultivating Stillness, for many, can feel like wasted time – time where their energy and efforts could be channelled into a million other things. Sound familiar?

A lovely Buddhist saying debunks this in a matter of words “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

Studies now show that people are more likely to increase productivity as well as reduce stress and anxiety by introducing a daily practice of stillness. The likes of these ‘wildly successful’ people, meditate daily…. Jerry Seinfield, Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Russel Brand, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Murdoch, Tom Hanks and Martin Scorsese.
What we fail to recognise, is that by opting for some peace, silence and tranquility, we deem ourselves valuable. Worth our own time, the re-calibration of our thoughts and the gift of uninterrupted quiet.
By choosing to switch off from society for a short time, indicates to our subconscious, our spirit and our heart, that we are checking in – we want the internal guidance and we need our intuition to have a voice.
Making decisions and choices from this soft space is far more powerful than trying desperately to solider on, floundering in the noise of busy.

How often have you been ‘day dreaming’ in the shower and had an accidental epiphany? Or been walking the dogs and had an idea or solution drop into your head? Whilst this time wasn’t planned stillness, when the business of doing took a short break, you allowed your intuition to sneak in a little guidance.
Imagine the possibilities then, if you honoured your heart, spirit and intuition with a daily practice of intentional stillness?

Now, I have heard MANY clients say, “I can’t possibly meditate, my mind is SOOO busy and I just get frustrated and give up!” We all love a little self-sabotage don’t we?!
Yes, for some, Meditation is powerful and life changing, but often this takes practice with a dash of patience.
Imagine telling a Kelpie who has spent its life charging around paddocks chasing and herding sheep day after day, year after year to spend an entire day sitting still. It just wouldn’t happen.
We have hard wired ourselves to be frenzied. So we need to do a little re-wiring.

This then ties back to being gentle and kind to self. Be patient with yourself. You’re learning. You are discovery something new and creating new neural pathways – this can take time.
So where to begin?
This is unique for everyone. But as a guideline, this time involves no screens, no conversation, no interaction with others, no interruptions or distractions.
*Some people love to wake early everyday and take just 10 minutes mindfully walking barefoot in their back garden with their toes grounded in the earth, gathering Chi.
*Some people love to head into the depths of nature (beach, forest etc) – allowing an allocated time – to walk without purpose but with presence, immersing themselves in the sounds of nature.
*Some people like to set up an alter in their home, pop on some incense and listen to and join in chanting. By chanting, you are giving your mind something to ‘focus’ on, without inviting thoughts.
* Some people enjoy no noise, a simple arm chair and focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of their breath for any given time.
*Some people like to lie down, and listen to guided meditation that talks them through where to focus attention and breath.

No matter which appeals to you, start gently. It may all feel foreign to you and your mind may scream at you like an indignant toddler – demanding attention – but just like parenting a tantrum, when you ignore it, it has no audience and then no purpose.
You may begin with 5 minutes every day for a week. Then feeling this is manageable, increase this time to 10 minutes and so on. Until one day, you find this ‘new’ ritual of stillness something you look forward to and crave, so much so, you notice carving out 30 minutes every day to honour this practice.
There is no competition. No prize. No one to check in with to say you have ‘done it.’
Just your body and spirit scheduling an appointment together every day.

All in all, Meditation increases your awareness – it demonstrates how your inner attitude determines your happiness, your priorities and your outlook on life.
So, don’t wait to start tomorrow.
Let stillness into your world today.
Be the example for your children, your partner, your colleagues.

Affirmation: I now choose to welcome Pleasure and not Pressure into my days. I gift myself time to honour my breath and my spirit and be still.