How to practice self-care like a boss: Simple ideas to get started.

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In a society that views putting ones needs first as selfish and over-indulgent,the subject of self-care can be a sensitive one.More so when you are a woman who is supposed to put everyone above yourself. However, looking at the high number of women experiencing chronic fatigue and on the verge of a burning out, it is clear that this practice is flawed.

Ask me,I’ve been there.

About 10 years ago I found myself flat on my back unable to take care of myself and the people I thought I was sacrificing everything  for. I was exhausted,highly irritable and feeling disconnected with myself. After a stint in hospital,I made sure to pencil in self-care in my routine.

I wish I could say I’ve been religious in following my routine.

But no.

‘Life’ slowly crept back and the ‘busyness’ of being a woman,mother,wife and working woman took over and I found myself struggling again. I had to learn that self-care is not an event. To be successful,I have to make it part of my lifestyle. This is something I want other women to learn too.

What is self-care?

The word self-care seems self explanatory but our understanding may be limited. Self care is any activity that you voluntarily undertake which helps you maintain your physical,mental and emotional health ( so that time in hospital did not count as self-care). These activities must add to your life in a positive way and cause you no harm.So, no matter how happy it makes you feel, over indulging in alcohol or chocolates is not self care.Sorry.

Who needs to practice self care?

If you experience the following on an ongoing basis,it could be time you learn to practice self-care

  • constantly feeling tired
  • you are irritable
  • you are forgetful
  • you feel strange when not busy
  • feeling stressed out by the many responsibilities
  • ongoing feeling of overwhelm and unable to cope with daily activities

Why is self-care necessary?

I am sure the above reasons are enough for anyone to want to start practicing self care. Psychotherapist Jenine Steinberg, in her article 4 Reasons to Prioritize Self-Care , goes deeper into what I also think are important reasons to make self care priority.

Where routine self-care is lacking,stress may take over and lead to total burnout.Physical and mental health becomes at risk. Illness may result.You want to stop the wheels turning before you land in a deep dark place.

I have put together a very short list of ideas you can start practicing.Pick one or two and begin treating yourself like you would a dear friend.

 7 Self care ideas to start practicing today

1.Take time to connect with nature. Relax under the stars and breath in fresh air with mindfulness. Take a walk along the beach and taste the salt in the air.Walk in the park and smell the flowers.Awaken all your senses as you reconnect with yourself in nature.

2.Be Selfish.Do something for no reason other than that you want to and it makes you happy.Be like a child and put the spotlight on you and allow yourself to glow in positive light.

3. Unplug. Switch off all your devices and just be.Even if it’s for an hour.I promise the moon will not fall from the sky because you are unreachable but you will marvel at the freedom of being unavailable.

4.Practice saying YES to yourself.Most of us have no problem saying YES,but it’s usually to things that we should be saying NO to. Think about it;what is your knee-jerk response when a girlfriend asks you out for drinks or a spa day? Do you immediately say yes or your first thoughts rush to whether this outing will fit your children’s or partner’s schedule?Do you consider it wasting money to treat yourself yet say yes without hesitation when your children ask for random treats?

5.Speak kindly to yourself. Most of us will have no friends if we spoke to them the way we speak to ourselves.Think carefully about the language you use in your head.It can build you up or break you down. It’s your choice.

6.Date yourself. Yes,just you and yourself. Pick a day,time,activity and place to be with yourself.Fill this time with positive things that bring you pure joy and satisfaction. Block it out in your diary, send out an out of office message an hang out a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign at your door. Make no compromises.

7.Eat for nourishment. Change the way you think about food. Imagine what will happen if we started to view healthy food as treat. I imagine it would be something we look forward to,something we crave. Healthy eating is a big part of the self care practice. A healthy body is better equipped to handle stress than one that is poorly fed.

8.Move. Your body has built in happy juices called endorphins which are released when you exercise.  Find a form of exercise that fits your personality and lifestyle and enjoy it and you will experience joy.

This list is limited. The goal is to get you thinking and to help you start practicing self care like a boss in no time.Self-care is not an expensive,time consuming indulgence. It is a necessary expression of love for yourself.It helps decrease stress and increases productivity.It may help you avoid physical an mental illness.By loving yourself enough to prioritise yourself,you can approach your work,family and social relationships with a clear and happy mind.

The benefits of routinely practicing self care far outweigh the perceived expense in time and money. event poster final (3)It’s in that spirit that I am hosting a 1 day Guilt-Free Self-Care Retreat for busy women who can only give themselves a day to focus on just filling up their cups because they know,you can not pour from an empty cup. If you are in Durban or know a special woman in Durban who deserves a day off,please come through,it promises to be a soul enriching event. Bookings are now open.

How and how often do you practice self-care? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Detoxfication Simplified

No word gets tossed around at this time of the year more than ‘DETOX’.Everywhere you turn someone is on some kind of detox in the form of diets,teas,juices-there is even even a detox coffee!

But what really is the detoxification process? Is it necessary?How do yo know you need to detox?

Quick Biology Lesson

Most people know that the liver is the main detox organ but it’s not the only organ.In the mix is the gall bladder,kidneys,the lymphatic system,colon and skin.Yes,your skin is one of the detox organs,not the most efficient but it picks up where other organs can’t cope.Dull skin tone anyone?

The liver does the main filtering of toxins in the blood that enter the body through the GIT( gastrointestinal tract) BEFORE it enters the rest of the body

Th colon moves whatever detoxification waste the liver has dumped into the digestive tract for elimination because if it hangs around the colon too much due to constipation,there is a risk that it can be reabsorbed into your bloodstream. You don’t want that.

There is another system in the body that we don’t hear much about yet it is one the most important and intricate body systems;the Lymphatic system.It’s made up of tiny vessels and groups of nodes that carry the interstitial fluid in the body and dump it to the blood stream to be removed.It also carries vital immune cell.The special thing about this system is that (1)it has no pumps to move the lymph(2)it moves in one direction.It moves with the help of surrounding muscles that press on the lymph vessels.

And lastly, skin.Skin is our biggest organ but it is also the least efficient when it comes to detoxing.It does however take over from other detox organs when they are overburdened with toxins.

Although the kidneys‘main function is maintaining the fluid balance in the body,it also does detox duty.It filters specific toxins,especially in protein foods, and removes it via urine.The fluid balance is important for blood pressure,electrolytes and the acid -base balance.

Since we have all these organs and systems detoxing while we are busy scoffing our faces with sinful indulgences,why do we need to add detoxification on our health plan?

Because,my nutrivore friend,there are forces bigger than us giving our poor liver and other organs a run for their money.Okay I could be exaggerating but our number one  evil is the environment we now live in. Our world is filled with man made toxins,some of them the body does not even recognise. It stands to reason that it will need a bit help getting rid of them.

Another  reason is that our diets are deficient in nutrients that assist these organs to work efficiently. Take fibre for instance; time and time again it has been proven that we do not consume enough fibre. Fibre is necessary to move things along our colon. So if we do not have enough fibre to assist elimination,we risk keeping the toxins in the body or even worse,reabsorbing them.

So yes,for these two reasons,among other,we need to detox.

Detox Goals

When we embark on a detox program these 3 goals should be what we aim to achieve

1.To reduce the workload of the liver.

2. To stimulate the body organs to  move the toxins out of the body.

3.To encourage detox organs to work better.

We clearly indulge excessively during the festive.We eat with the abandon.We are careless with our livers,drinking too much alcohol  because,who drinks water during holidays?Really now.

 

So how do we achieve the above goals? That is the next topic in this detox series. Make sure you don’t miss it.

Nutrivore Love

 

7 things to know about HYPERTENSION

World Health Day 2016 : Beat DiabetesGive your heart some love Hypertension is also called the silent killer because many individuals walk around with no clue that their blood pressure is high as it does not present with obvious symptoms. It is only by having your blood pressure measured that you can know your status. It’s in this spirit that the 2016 theme for World Hypertension Day is ‘Know Your Numbers’.

1.What is blood pressure?

It is the measure exerted by our blood on the blood vessel walls when it passes through the arteries.

2.What is normal Blood Pressure?

Since we all have blood flowing in our arteries and veins transporting gases and nutrients throughout the body, we all have blood pressure. The normal blood pressure is 120 Systolic and 80 Diastolic or 120/80

3.What is Hypertension or High blood pressure?

When the arteries and veins are constricted or lose their natural elasticity they  become narrow. Smaller vessels mean that the heart has to work harder to pump the blood and that causes the blood pressure to increase.

A reading of anything over 140/80 is considered high blood pressure in adults. When these numbers go beyond 180/100, it is considered an emergency.

4.What causes hypertension?

The most common cause of hypertension is linked to poor lifestyle and diet choices. This is usually characterised by the following:

  • Being overweight
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • High salt intake
  • Lack of exercise
  • High alcohol intake

Other common causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Old age
  • Kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders

 5.Can hypertension be prevented?

Yes. One simple way is through monitoring one’s lifestyle.

Diet

  • Follow a healthy diet eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, moderate amounts of whole grains and high fibre, and a minimal amount of meat
  • Cut down on salt and commercial spices. Get into the habit of seasoning food with natural herbs and natural spices.
  • Cut out unhealthy fats
  • Cut out processed foods e.g. packet soups, stock cubes salty snacks etc.

Lifestyle

  • Keep a healthy weight for your height (BMI 18-25)
  • Get active by exercising for at least 30min five times a week
  • Quit smoking (e-cigarettes included)
  • Drink moderately
  • Learn stress management techniques
  • Reduce caffeine intake

Even when you have been diagnosed with hypertension, making the above changes may help to reverse the condition or at least manage it.

6.What are the dangers of Hypertension?

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to the following:

  • Stroke
  • Weakened Heart
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heart failure
  • Damage to the eyes affecting eyesight

7.How can you check your blood pressure?

By visiting your doctor, clinic or hospital. Pharmacies like Dischem, Clicks and others also offer BP screening at a nominal charge.

With these simple changes you can prevent and manage high blood pressure and enjoy improved quality of life. You deserve it.

PS:Make sure you do not miss any of informative post like these ones by following this page. Read previous articles about heart health here and how to beat diabetes.

 

 

 

 

 

Simple ways to get moving

Who goes to sleep with great anticipation for the morning to come so they can go to gym?

Anyone? No?

Physical exercise takes a lot of discipline, even the keenest gym bunny has a difficult time now and again. It’s no surprise because our bodies are always looking for the path of least resistance.

In 2002 The World Health Organisation (WHO) elected 10 May as ‘World Move for Health Day’.This annual event aims  to encourage and promote physical activity as an important part of a healthy lifestyle and total well-being.

There is more to exercise than weight loss. But before I give you reasons to get moving, let me tell you about the different types of training and their benefits.

Although there are different methods to categorise physical activity, I like to put exercise under 3 basic categories

  1. Endurance Training

This type of physical activity increases the heart rate and can improve lung capacity. What this means is that your heart and lungs will have a greater ability to transport oxygen to the body. More oxygen circulating=> healthy body=> improved quality of life.

Other health benefits from endurance training include the following:

  • Lowering of blood pressure
  • Reduction of body fat
  • Improves overall fitness
  • Decrease of the bad cholesterol

The good thing about this type of exercise is that you do not need gym membership to do it. Fast walking, running cycling, swimming, playing soccer or dancing are all examples of endurance activities

2.Strength Training

Did you now that strength training burns more calories than endurance (aerobic) exercise? Muscle tissue is very active and as such lean tissue means higher metabolism which equates to more fat burning.

Strength training strengthens our muscles and other connective tissue i.e. ligaments, tendons and this helps to prevent injuries.

Many women avoid strength training in fear of getting ‘bulky’ but this is not based on fact. Strength training is highly recommended for women because it strengthens bone density which helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Other benefits:

  • Improved quality of life: because we use muscles for almost every activity in our lives, stronger muscles mean we are able to do our daily tasks much easier and efficiently.
  • Management of Chronic Conditions: signs and symptoms of arthritis, obesity, heart diseases, diabetes and even depression can be reduced by strength training.

Many activities that strengthen our muscles can be done in the gym and at home. Here are a few examples: training using weights (dumbbells, kettle bells), stretch bands and also body weight when doing sit ups, squats.

3.Flexibility

It is unfortunate that a lot of people do not pay attention to this type of training yet it is a vital part of a well-rounded exercise routine (it’s also my favourite).

Flexibility training will help you to restore full range of movement to the joints after training and help increase length and flexibility the muscles.

Further benefits:

  • Reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles and tendons
  • Reduced muscular pain
  • Increased range of motion
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Improved posture and balance

With benefits like these, flexibility training should be an integral part of your training routine not an afterthought.

Exercises to improve flexibility include Pilates (my favourite), yoga, tai chi and callanetics to name a few.

This is just a broad category that I use as a point of departure, there are more exercises within each category so there is no reason not to ‘Move for health” every day. There is no doubt that the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the temporary pain.
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Personally, I do not like exercise that much but once I get my butt out of the door, I do not regret the hour or two I spend at the gym. My current gym schedule looks like this

Monday: 1 hour Pilates

Tuesday: 30 min Swimming

                 1hour Pilates

Thurs: 30 min Swimming

                              1h30 Pilates with weights

Saturday: I alternate between 5km Park Run or 5-10km Hike or 1Hr Pilates.

I have had to make changes to my routine since getting chemotherapy ( whose side effects include weakening of muscles) and surgery (which is still healing and is very sensitive to fast movements).I chose Pilates because despite it being low impact, it is powerful in strengthening the muscles, improving posture and balance. I am also hoping that swimming will help my arm heal and improve its range of motion. I can’t wait to get back to weight and to building a bit of muscle.

Of course you don’t need 2hrs in the gym to reap the benefits. All you need is 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. The key is consistency.The internet is full of easy no equipment workouts which suit beginners to advanced individuals. Try this combination which you can do at home in 30 minutes.I love that that it’s a total body workout that combines cardio and strength training too.

Get away from the couch, TV and computer and take a BRISK walk. Pick up skipping rope and jump on the spot for a few minutes and mix that up with couple easy exercises for effect. Play ball with your children-anything really to get you heart racing and your lungs working a little more for about 30 minutes is all you need.

On this Move for Health Day, make a decision to take care of your body because it’s the only one you have.

 

Full of Beans

Did you know that 2016 is IYP?

That’s International Year of Pulses for you.

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been nominated to facilitate the implementation of the Year in collaboration with Governments, relevant organizations, non-governmental organizations and all other relevant stakeholders. The IYP 2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition. http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/en/

What does this mean for you and me? Well, to me it means I will be looking closer at the humble bean family and putting more effort into incorporating a variety on meat-free days.To most of us it also means re-educating ourselves and removing, in our minds, the poverty status beans and pulses have in our society. It’s time to elevate beans to their rightful super food status.

What are pulses?

Beans, peas and lentils, collectively known as pulses, are the dried seeds of the legume family.pulses

Nutrient value of pulses

Science backs up what our grandmothers have told us : BEANS ARE HEALTHY!

They are a rich source of proteins and can be used as a meat substitute. Since they provide incomplete protein, they pack a more powerful punch when consumed combined with nuts, seeds and whole grain cereals. Soya beans, however, are one of only a few plant foods that provide all the essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein like meat.

Pulses provide us with both soluble and insoluble fibre. While soluble fibre helps to decrease blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels, insoluble fibre helps with digestion and regular bowel movement.

Most pulses contain about 1% fat, with the highest fat content being from soya beans. These are the good fats which contribute to our daily energy needs and provide us with essential fatty acids.

Pulses are rich in vitamins and minerals while being relatively low in calories. Some of the key minerals in pulses include iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also particularly abundant in vitamin K, E, B vitamins including folate, thiamine and niacin.

Health benefits

  1. Promotes healthy hearts: The fiber in the pulses may improve heart health by lowering cholesterol levels. The potassium in pulses can lower blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium.
  2.  Assist in managing diabetes: Pulses are a low-glycaemic index food. People who include more low GI foods in their diet have lower rates of diabetes. Those who already have diabetes can manage their blood sugar better by including pulses in their diet.
  3. Contributes to a healthy digestive system: The fibre in pulses can help prevent constipation and keep you regular.
  4. Can prevent cancer: the phytochemicals, saponins, and tannins found in pulses have antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic qualities.
  5. Can contribute to weight loss: The high amount of fibre and protein in pulses keeps you fuller for longer, reducing the need to snack in between meals

What about the music?

Those who find that pulses lead to gas and bloating may find the following tips useful:

  •  Soak them before cooking and remember to change the soaking water once or twice before cooking
  • Do not use the soaking liquid to cook the pulses
  • Cook pulses thoroughly as undercooked starch is harder to digest
  • Thoroughly rinse canned or pre-soaked pulses before cooking.
  • Start by eating small amounts of pulses, and gradually increase your intake.
  • Drink lots of water

Cooking with pulses

There is more to beans and pulses than the bean stew we grew up with. Explore. Look for mouth-watering recipes in vegetarian books and websites. My latest addiction is the chickpea and lentil burger I created basing it on Jamie Oliver’s Best Vegan burger which uses lentils and corn. For some strange reason I have not taken a picture of my creation (or maybe it was too good I could not wait to take a photo), so today I will share the recipe from Jamie Oliver. I promise to share my adaptation soon. If you have favourite vegan recipe using pulses, please share here.If not, I challenge you to create one and I will feature the recipes throughout the year.

Happy experimenting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Everyday Wellness

Superfoods for a younger you!

7 day Miracle diet!

15 min Flab Attack routine!

And so it goes. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we seek quick fixes that torture our bodies instead of nourishing our bodies and souls every single day? Why do we find it so difficult to commit to healthy living?

But what is “Healthy living”? It’s not a specialised diet. It is not calorie counting and mixing powders. It’s definitely not how many hours you spend at the gym or in meditation. It is a constant and deliberate daily journey towards total wellbeing.

We are our bodies, minds and souls so it’s a no brainer that we should be treating ourselves more than just as passing thoughts. Of course finding time to balance healthy eating, meaningful exercise and to relax and recharge is quite a challenge in our busy lives, but can we afford not to make the time?

Our current lifestyles are not sustainable.The breakdown in our health,our relationships with others and ourselves tells us this. A change is needed.I find that when it comes to making changes,the trick is to just jump in and get started.Try these tips to get you started on the road to healthy living.If they worked for me,they are sure to work for you too.

Eat Real Food

Clean out your cupboards and remove all processed foods and avoid stopping by our favourite aunt’s (the name starts with W) to buy ready-to-go food. Yes they are quick to prepare and save you time but are the added chemicals, salts and sugars worth the risk?

Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, organic meats and whole grains. The initial cost of switching might seem high but in the long term, the cost is leveraged by the improved well- being and overall health you will see and feel.

Make a habit of counting your colours not the calories on your plate. The Sunday seven colours are actually very good!

Move

Following my surgery and the health shenanigans of 2015, I’ve been struggling with going back to gym. But then I realised I was tired and bored with my gym routine and I need a new routine. I am now excited about starting my swimming lessons and getting my strength back in Pilates.

Scheduling 3×30 minutes of exercise per week goes a long way towards improving your health. You get maximum benefit from exercise by varying your exercise between endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. The benefits of exercise go beyond weight loss. They include increased bone density, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol. And the feel good hormones that are released during exercise will make you feel on top of the world.

Hydrate

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The real vitamin water.

We all know we should drink 8 glasses of water daily but did you know that that includes tea, milk and juices? Considering that up to 70% of our bodies is made of water, the benefits of keeping hydrated cannot be understated. To get the maximum benefit, get the bulk of your hydration from pure filtered water; with zero calories it is the best choice.

Take Time Out

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Take time out to just ‘be’

 

Do something for you and only you. Read, pray, meditate or take a long bath-as long as you taking at least 20 minutes a day to just be with your thoughts.

For me shower times are sacred. I can not counts the times I have had epiphanies and AHA! moments during shower time. I have cried, not out of sadness but because I am overwhelmed by the sheer pleasure, peace and a connection with myself a simple shower gives me.

Unplug

Simply put, take a break from all your devices; cell phone, tablets even your Fitbit. It will be a mistake to exclude taking time away from our electronics if we want to live a balanced and healthy life.

Did you know that there is a Digital Detox app? Yes, that’s how sad our situation has become. Try search for “digital detox” on Google and see what comes up. We now have digital detox retreats and challenges. In essence we have become slaves of our connectivity. At what price? Excessive preoccupation with our devices has potential to cost us our relationships, sleep, productivity and balance. That is a high price to pay for convenience.

We all know what happens when an addict goes cold turkey to break the habit. Without proper support, this method hardly works. It’s the same with digital addicts (read: me and you), we can start slowly. I have actually set time blocks on my phone to check emails, do my research and log on to social media.

Start by consciously staying away from your devices for 20 min and increase the times gradually (setting reminders for this is the best way) I know it’s a bit Type A, but so far it’s working well. The last face I see before I fall asleep is my husbands, not a stranger on Instagram. That’s progress.

What are other ways you can think of that can bring you closer to healthy living? I’d love to  hear your ideas.