“Food is healthcare”

I don’t look at all food the way I used to.  I truly do love food, but sadly in the second half of 2015, it became apparent that there were a few foods that just, well, didn’t love me!

Before I go any further, I need to respectfully acknowledge people who suffer anaphylaxis, those with severe conditions  which bring on adverse reactions to certain foods and those with  diabetes. These people’s food choices can have life-threatening effects on their health.  In comparison, my little story is hardly worth telling, but I think still relevant to the image above.

So, it appeared that it would be a process to discover ‘which’ foods they were that didn’t love me!

You see, I had a colonsocopy (yep, the drink was woeful) – ruled out the nasties but symptoms were suggestive of Irritiable Bowel Disorder. In my head, I was thinking, ok, nothing too sinister about that – I will just watch what I eat….  and maybe take some of those over the counter medications I have seen advertised on TV – ‘for medically diagnosed IBD’ – you know the ones.

Woah – at that point I didn’t realise the regime the dietitian had in store for me!  Her recommendation was to do a FODMAP elmination – basically, cutting out all of the short chain carbohydrates for a period of 6 weeks and then methodically re-introducing them.

How hard can it be? Right? Wrong!  Do you know how many foods this involved??  There were a few days when I was just plain ‘hangry’ – so starving, and didn’t know what I was ‘allowed’ to eat.  But its done now, and you know what happened – I felt amazing, yep, on top of the world!

The dietitian was spot on, clearly all of the symptoms were being caused by those pesky short chain carbohydrates.  Then, the trick was to re-introduce them separately to work out exactly which ones were bothering me the most.  The challenges  were harder – so much trial and error (I do mostly like to have a plan!)  Interestingly, it got to this point where I didn’t want to add in any more foods because I was feeling so good, crazy hey?!

Now, I need to tell you, I seriously love bread – like, so much so that prior to the abovementioned story, my most truly favourite thing to eat was fresh bread, butter and vegemite (with proportionately more butter than vegemite, wink, wink!)  As you can probably imagine, this type of bread is not really allowed in low FODMAP regimes.  For a detailed look at FODMAP, head to http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/

Don’t get me wrong, its not that I haven’t had any bread at all since this unravelled, I have had bits and pieces – all the while knowing that it wasn’t the best thing for my body.  That was a choice I made on those days.  What I now know, and perhaps I didn’t fully acknowledge it before, but eating the right food really is healthcare.

 

The take away message here is:

  • Try practising mindful eating – essentially, it’s about concentrating on your food and the taste and how it makes you feel,
  • Nibbling while preparing dinner is an example of mindLESS eating, as is finishing the food on plates that your children didn’t eat 😉
  • Try keeping a journal of not of how many calories you ate, but rather, what you ate and how it made you feel – go on, just a few days, as an experiment?!

Yes, I can hear your say, nutrition is only one component of a healthy lifestyle, but it is a vital part!  You can’t eat rubbish and expect your body to work well  – like me with the bread, I know, not my wisest hour, but I have to be okay with the consequences, if that’s what I choose.

What do you choose??

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Sleepy?

This morning when I was so rudely woken by my alarm, I seriously felt like I’d been asleep for like 10 minutes!  I hadn’t, I had almost 9 hours sleep, but it set me to thinking about how amazing sleep is!  I have always felt empathy for people who have trouble sleeping, however, never truly understood it!!!

Sleep is a human necessity and the benefits of sleep are truly astonishing!!  Who doesn’t love a good sleep??

Here is some facts I found for you in the ABC’s National Sleep Research Project (in bold)(These are from 2000 – its a little old now, but these facts are ones which won’t change with time.)

  • Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.  Being a nurse who has done some shiftwork in her time – I believe this to be true!)
  • Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal.  If you have had the pleasure of spending time with an adolescent, you will know sleep is very high on their priority list, and here it is, backed by research!)
  • Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet. And further to this, backlit screens actually decrease a person’s melatonin secretion – which is the hormone that helps us sleep.
  • A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year (wow, I’ve not seen it laid out like that, any new parents out there, you are doing awesome, don’t stop reading, I promise to be the bearer of some tips too!)

And this is what I know about sleep:

Good quality sleep is good for weight loss! – Poor sleep has a slowing effect on metabolism, and we know our metabolism needs to be working well if we want to lose weight.

Lack of sleep has been used as a form of torture – prolonged periods of sleep deprivation mess with the entire body’s biological functions and therefore effect mental and physical health.

A sleep routine can actually help you sleep better.  Psst, sleep routines aren’t just for babies!!  Its not about timing how long you sleep for and sleeping for intervals and waking up, its about getting in the ‘sleep zone’ before you even go to bed.  Again, its about creating habits!

icon-sleep

Here are just a couple of things to try:

Try getting up at the same time each day – for people who are particularly fond of their sleep, this might be difficult to start with, but it helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm.  And when you wake up, get out of bed, so for you serial snoozers, its time to ‘disable’ the snooze function.

Avoiding caffeine after about lunchtime – for obvious reasons, being zinged up on stimulants before bed clearly has detrimental effects on your sleep pattern.

Exercise, especially in the afternoon – physically tiring, but also there is a link to body temperature and it being back to normal by the time bedtime comes around.

I’ve saved the best until last, though perhaps it will be the least popular of all…

Turn off your backlit screens at least one hour before you want to go to sleep.  As mentioned above, the melatonin secretion is affected by that light.  The ‘one last look’ at your social media for bed has got to be a thing of the past if you want to sleep better!

There you have it, Wellness Assist’s sleep tips in a nutshell, have a great, sleep-filled week!

 

The Bus Ride

To follow on from my post last week’s about strong women on International Women’s Day, I think today I will write more about the invaluable support friends bring to our lives.  Yep, that’s what I will do – spend a whole blog writing about the support of friends in wellness, weight management and just life in general.

And not just any friends, the type of friends in the words of Oprah Winfrey ‘…who would take the bus with you when your limo breaks down…..’  It is my sincere hope that everyone has some of these friends.  You know the ones who it is totally acceptable for them to tell you all the details of why they don’t like your outfit or the ones who are more than ok with coming around to your house to have a nap.  They are the ones.

When it comes to wellness, these friends know they hold incredible power to you guiding on the road to thriving.  They would go out with you when you were having ‘me’ time or stay home with your children (or dog) while you went and had that said ‘me’ time.  Other things they might do is notice when you are doing it tough and actually do something about it, not wait until you lose your s#%t before they take action to help you.

While some of the supports might be the same as wellness, weight loss and gaining  health can also be ably assisted by friends.  They might question if you really need that second piece of cake, or they might gently (!) persuade you to go for a walk or a quick fun run with them – even if your idea of fun is different to theirs!  Regardless of the differences, true friends wholeheartedly want to see you succeed.  And how good is that feeling that someone has your back?!

The friends who you know, without question, want you to succeed are the ones you choose to do life with.  At risk of sounding old, I can absolutely say the value of dear friends is amplified as you get busier, and older!!  These are the friends who you make time for and they make time for you.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ‘phoned a friend’ to share when I was having a bad time.  I didn’t want them to provide solutions, I just knew they wouldn’t question my position and would 100% support me.

The love of a dear friend can be what you need most, even when you don’t know you do.  Or their support might just be the difference between you moving forward or you staying exactly where you are.  Or just that their support kindly points out the funny side of a situation, even if it wasn’t even remotely close to your humour radar!

I’ll finish with a disclaimer – having friends won’t make you immune to tough times, but it will definately make the bus trip of life much more delightful, gratifying and treasured!

‘How to’

Do you know about Parkrun?  It is a free, weekly, 5km timed run that happens around the world. A worldwide community who don’t know each other but we have one common interest – running.  It has been my observation that a wonderful sense of connection has emerged through this parkrunning phenomenon. We know that having a sense of connectedness can improve one’s mental health.  So, in a nutshell parkrun has the capacity to improve mental health??  Could it really be that easy??  Follow the ‘how to’ guide below, and let me know!!

Thanks to a beautiful friend, who introduced me to parkrun, I’ve been parkrunning for awhile now.  I love it, and I wanted to share the love!!  I’m super proud to say that I will have clocked up my 50 parkruns by the end of April.  There are some people at my home run who have done more than 100!!  And I did also see a 250 run shirt on the merchandise store – now that is dedicated, isn’t it?!

Parkrun is something that has become a ritual for me now. Each week, something else occurs to me as to why I like it so much. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Register at http://www.parkrun.com  This involves printing out your barcodes – they give you 6, so no excuses when you lose one, ok!?  I now note you can also get a wristband with your barcode on it, that’s a bit fancy, isn’t it?
  2. So then on Friday night, lay out the clothes you plan to wear, you want to make it easy for yourself!! This includes everything you will need, you don’t want have to search for belongings in the morning.
  3. Set your alarm, even set it to occur weekly as a back up. Sleep well, the alarm will wake you! That’s it’s job!
  4. Bound out of bed, dress in your pre-prepared clothes and remember to take your barcode. It doesn’t matter if you are sleepy eyed, high five yourself for getting up, that’s  the hardest but most important decision you will make for the weekend. Apply sunscreen but only under your eyes, nobody wants sunscreen eyes while running!
  5. Drive there, give yourself plenty of time, you want to arrive with time to spare, like probably 0645. Last week, in my sleepiness I nearly reversed my husband’s car into a unassuming rail.
  6. Proceed to start line, if its your first time, listen the brief, the run directors want you to have fun and come back to enjoy all that is parkrun.
  7. Have a look around, you never know who to might know there.  The running community doesn’t discriminate. People come from all walks of life and for all different reasons. See that’s the cool thing about parkrun, its absolutely not a race, the only competition there is, is against yourself, and being better than YOU were yesterday.
  8. Run!  It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch! Sometimes I run with a watch to see my time and keep me honest, other times I just run, for the fresh air and because it’s my time not to think about anything else (any mum’s reading this will especially know how important this is!)
  9. Notice the people around you, if they are doing it tough, would it hurt to give them a boost? It’s called kindness, sprinkle that everywhere!  Today at another time or on another day, your kindness will be returned.  I tell you, I LOVE that kindness when I’m doing tough at about the 3-4km mark!  That kindness can, and should be applied to yourself!!
  10. Cross the finish line and collect your token.  Now for the part that seems to be an issue everywhere.  Get both your barcode and token scanned.  The barcode is yours to keep and the token belongs to parkrun.  DO NOT TAKE THE TOKEN HOME!!  And that’s it, easy right?!  All Done!
  11. Give yourself some more well deserved praise its, its 8 am and you couldn’t have started the weekend in a much better way!
  12. After you have been a few times a couple of things will then happen.  You start to notice people and people notice your efforts as well.  The other thing that then needs to happen is that you need to volunteer.  Parkrun relies solely on volunteers – speak to your Run Director or other organisers to put your hand up – its an easy job which is very rewarding!
Did you note only one of the steps involves running?!  The park run community is quite a unique and supportive group, why not try it out for yourself?
On behalf of parkrunners everywhere, I would like to say a sincere THANK YOU to all of the Run Directors and the volunteers – not only do you give up your time every week, you also directly contribute to improving the health of hundreds of thousands of people.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results!

What if there was such a perfect world and you were able to be positive in every instance in your life?  Could you imagine that?  I don’t know if I could imagine that?!  Even if you wanted to be, you also know that this is practically impossibly…..

But its lots of people’s advice, isn’t it?  When someone comes out with that ill-timed ‘just look on the bright side’, its not always easy, is it?

Straight off the top of my head I can think of instances when I really and truly struggle to ‘be positive’.  For example, when my computer at work says ‘access denied’ for the fourth week running or when I take my children to the shops and they behave like they have never seen fellow humans before.  Or when I clean the house and my children successfully mess it up within minutes of my completion….you know those moments!

Interestingly enough, prior to each incident I have had hopeful thoughts of ‘this will be a success this time’ or ‘I’m strong enough to handle this today’.  And yet, every time I still react, sometimes in a way I’m not particularly proud of, after the incident.

Albert Einstein said ‘Insanity or stupidity (depending which meme you read) is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result…..  Of course,  I wouldn’t like to think I’m stupid or insane, however, it is with my strengths that I wholeheartedly expect the outcome to be different.

So even when one of my personal strengths is persistence (and I believe one day I will take my children to the shops and they will behave like respectable humans), for now, I have to look at it like it is progress and there is a lesson.  For what I have learned each time is to pick my battles wisely and I know that with each ‘battle’ I’m getting stronger!

‘Pick your battles’ – That is my standard line, mostly to myself to remind me that I get to decide the way I choose to see it.  Right there, is a Sliding Doors (the movie) moment.  I have a choice and I am entitled to choose my response to what happens in my life.  It is the only thing I have control over.

That decision is mine, and yours too, when faced with similarly aggravating situations.

There will be days when it seems the world is against you, but you can choose how you react and then you need to own these decisions.

Are you content when you look back on your decisions, or are you not, and you waste time overthinking them?

You get to choose to do something different – you might be surprised with the results!

Moving forward, I must take my own advice.  When the children mess up the house, take a breath and remind myself – make my decision and own it!

If-insanity-is-doing-the-same-thing-over-and-over-againI could have written this!!

 

 

 

Be like Bill

So, after a week of deep-breathing, challenging my self-talk and being grateful, I think I’m feeling more present?! It might be mind over matter, but isn’t that what much of life is??
Even though it was my advice in the previous post, I’m not afraid to tell you that I have definitely caught myself not being very nice to myself, and certainly being ungrateful.  And I can tell you, I really did enjoy the feeling after those 2o deep breaths, it was enforced focus, which I was very thankful for, I found it soooo relaxing!
So turns out taking my advice worked for me, did it for you?  Do you think you were more present?
When we are present we can start from a clear space and truly give some time to the things that matter to us.  What is that for you?  Why do you get out of bed in the morning?  What are your strengths? What are you passionate about?
Ok, enough of the 20 questions … the answers to those questions may change a little, especially on a day off(!) but on a serious note, what drives us matters a lot!!
When I say it matters, it seriously does!  You know those people are so oblivious to their own selves, its almost humorous, I bet you wouldn’t have to think long to think of someone like this?! Don’t be that person.  Here is an example for you:
This is Bill.
Bill knows what drives him, what his ‘why’ is and the areas he needs to work on.
Bill is kind to himself and has a high level of self-awareness.
Bill is smart.
Be like Bill.

Are you?

I don’t know about you but I cannot believe that it is now February!?  One month of 2016 is done already!!  I don’t know if its that I’m getting older or that we have been busy (as everyone is) or that my children have been so anxiously anticipating school and kindy to start.  But here we are, February is here.  When I consider how fast time goes, I really am reminded how we need to be present and mindful.  I can hear some of my friends, a few in particular saying, whatever (!), or what does that even mean?  It means closing down all of the tabs in your brain and absorbing where you really are.  You won’t get this time back, that is what I do know for sure.

Will you look back and be proud of how you spent your time?  Will you have regrets?  Will you think about times you have spent with family and friends and wish you didn’t spend the whole time talking or scrolling on your phone?  I’ve seen a lot #makingmemories lately, you know the ones.  What will your memories be?  Are they about the meme you saw on your newsfeed or the sound of your friend or child’s laughter?

Here’s my quick tips, for what they are worth, about being ‘present’:

  1. At least once every day, deliberately take 20 consecutive deep breaths – you know the type, in through your nose, where you feel your shoulders rise as your lungs fill with air and then out through your mouth, yes those.  Repeat more than once if you wish.
  2. Consciously listen to your self-talk – that is the way you speak to yourself – listen to whether it is positive or negative, make a real attempt to speak to yourself like you would a valued friend.
  3. Be grateful – Stop.  take a look around and make a note of three things you are grateful for.  Being thankful and grateful is about focusing on the positive things.  If you do this, there is no time to dwell on the other stuff, that has nothing to do with your goals, anyway!
Could you do these everyday for a week?

I’m going to try it, are you?
I look forward to hearing about all the nice things you said to yourself and noticed in this amazing life!