As I sit here writing this, the sun is beaming in through my window, warming my face nicely - a sure sign that Spring is here and Summer is on its way. Many of us see this as a time to kick start their health campaign, ready for our summer holidays. So now is the time to make changes to your lifestyle, rather than leaving it too close to your holiday and opting for an unhealthy quick fix that will leave you hungry, craving foods and lacking in energy. Instead there are some easy changes you can make to your lifestyle now that will help you become healthier, have more energy and burn some excess fat.
As some of you know, I have given up added sugar for Lent. Its not that I feel I need to lose any weight, but purely for 2 reasons - I hate the way it makes me feel - high for a short time before I feel tired and sluggish, and also I waste valuable calories on chemical c**p, instead of foods that are going to make me stronger, happier, more energetic, recover quicker and healthier. So seeing as I am only on day 2 and all I can think about is sugar (because I can't have it), I thought I'd write about it too .
So one of the reasons we become addicted to sugar is its taste. When our taste buds evolved, there was a limited supply of fruit, which was rare and hard to come across, therefore if our ancestors came across fruit and ate it, they were able to eat as much of it as they liked because it gave them energy and vital calories easily. So our taste buds like sugar. Now days, everywhere we turn, there is sugar - candy, chocolate, cakes, biscuits etc. Meanwhile, our taste buds remain unchanged, making us prone to overeating sugary foods. So what is the best way to beat a sugar addiction, if you have one - Go cold turkey. There is no reducing intake, cold turkey is the only way. Now I am not talking about fruit etc, but more manufactured added sugar. So as the sugar cravings kick in, I am busy thinking and researching ways to beat them and make the process less awful.
The first thing to look at is what feelings are identified with the urgency for sugar, as normally something has stirred those thoughts - stress, sadness, anger, tiredness, boredom, dissatisfaction. So before you reach for the sugary snack, think what emotion, thought or circumstance has recently occurred and try to deal with the emotions themselves first, because the sugary snack is just a delay - after it's worn off, the emotions are still there. Good examples are deep breathing, a good cry if everything has got too much, a run/cycle to release some aggression, etc. My favourites I feel will be pummelling the punch bag and my eldest daughter's favourite - shouting at the toilet, and I might, just might, listen to my iwatch when it tells me to breathe for the millionth time today (seems to sense when I need to )
Next is how to reduce the cravings.
Make sure you are consuming good levels of healthy fats and lean proteins, so a thumb sized amount of fat with every meal, and a fistful of protein. Don't skip your complex carbohydrates, we need them to function, sleep well and think.
Look at adding magnesium, chorium and zinc rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, brown rice, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apples, whole grains, eggs and oysters
Spice up your meals with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom as they will help satisfy the need for a sweet taste, whilst regulating your blood sugar levels and reducing your sugar cravings.
Try and reduce your levels of processed foods as they have hidden sugar. Processed sweeteners have also been shown to have an bad effect on our blood sugar levels (but natural sweeteners are more reliable such as Xylitol and Erthritol as they have no effect on our blood sugar levels and even offer some health benefits)
Get more sleep and exercise. Tiredness will lead to cravings, so prioritise your sleep. Exercise will also help tackle the cravings and makes you less likely to reach for something sweet after a session
So if you are tackling your sugar cravings this Lent - good luck
Most of us lead busy lives, making it harder to find time to train, easy to grab the less healthy snack or meal, and tricky to unwind and relax. Earlier this week I read an interesting article by precision nutrition on how we often treat our health with an all or nothing approach, in that we go full swing, eating well and training loads, but when we are busy, we pause it all, planning to take it back up when we are less busy. Not only does this make it harder to reach your goals, get fit or lose weight, but also our bodies are like formula 1 cars - to get the best out of them, they need careful looking after. John Berardi talked about having mini healthy habits that you could stick to when busy, so you don’t ‘pause’ your healthy habits, you just turn the dials up or down according to have how much time you have. So what mini healthy habits can you form?
As we buckle down into winter, with our first flutters of snow, how can you fight the dreaded office cold or the latest bug from the kids classroom? Check out some simple, easy ways to boost your immune system, avoid germs and minimise your risk of injury.
Sanitise your phone - As our phones have got smarter, we tend to carry them everywhere, including to the bathroom. So think what hidden ‘germs’ could be lurking on your screen. But before you reach for your antibacterial wipe to wipe down the screen, stop!! You could do more damage than good. Instead check out this article -
So this blog has taken a little longer than I had hoped, but now Christmas has been and gone and we have moved house, I can finally sit down and write up our successful Menopause talk.
Thank you to the 26 women who came and had a giggle at the little and large show, helping Imelda and I to raise over £175 to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. As promised, we have summed up the talk into 'take home pointers' so those who missed it can hopefully learn something new, and for those of you who came we have given the top tips and strategies that we covered - enjoy.
Firstly, how do you know you have had your menopause - simply put, it is 12 months without a period, which happens at the average age of 51 but bear in mind that 1 in 100 reach this point before they are 40. As many of you will have either heard or know, menopause can bring along some not so pleasant symptoms, in fact 70% of women will have menopause symptoms. These vary from: