Wellness

Why I’m Making My New Year’s Resolutions All About My Partner

Because what’s more important than your relationship, really?

The Dangerous Rise Of The Wannabe Health Guru

Here’s why you can’t trust your nutritionist.

7 Surprisingly Healthy Vending Machine Snacks

Because sometime chips are the only dinner option.

7 Healthy Habits Of Naturally Energetic People

Some people are naturally energetic – they bounce out of bed in the morning, don’t rely on caffeine to power through the day and are generally optimistic. Then there’s those people, like most, who snooze their alarms, drink coffee like it’s on its way out and moan and groan all day about being exhausted. Interestingly, it doesn’t have to be like this – with the right habits in place we too can be overflowing with energy.

RELATED: Top 10 Energy Boosting Foods

We chatted to Stephen Eddey, principal of Health Schools Australia and qualified nutritionist and naturopath to find out how.

1. Listen to your body

The key to feeling energetic is knowing your limits and making healthy choices, he says. If you’ve had a stressful day and are feeling run down, spending the night tucked up on the couch might be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t “push yourself to run errands that really can wait,” he urges. “Relaxing when you need to will assist with a deeper sleep and see you waking up the next day refreshed rather than drained.”

2. Plan your snacks

We’ve all heard the saying that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Stephen agrees with this: “You will feel much more energised during the day when you sustain your body with the right food. You may aim to have healthy meals but often when that mid-morning or 3pm craving hits, people reach for the most convenient – often a highly processed and packaged – option.”

Instead, pack some fruit and a handful of nuts to eat when you’re feeling peckish rather than reaching for that convenient packet of chips or chocolate bar, he insists. “You will feel the difference.”

3. Get enough sleep

We’re forever being told to get enough sleep, however a lot of us tend to ignore it then wonder why we’re always so tired. “It’s important to be getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night,” encourages Stephen. “Waking up well rested makes it easier to get out of bed without hitting the snooze button three times, and that motivation and enthusiasm will continue throughout the morning if your body has had the time it needed to rejuvenate.

If you struggle to unwind at night, it might be worth considering a bedtime routine such as relaxing with a warm chamomile tea or switching off electronics an hour before you go to sleep. Creating positive feng shui within your home is also another option that’s often overlooked.

4. Set goals

When we’re productive, we’re generally a lot happier – and when we’re happier, we tend to be more energetic. Therefore, Stephen recommends that you give yourself something to work towards. “It’s much easier to stay energised when you’re busy and to stay busy in a productive way you need to set goals.”

The naturopath/nutritionist says your goals can be anything that you want to achieve, so maybe it’s getting up early once or twice a week to do a morning yoga class, or “hitting a sales target at work.” Regardless, ticking things off your to-do list provides a big rush of energy. Stephen explains: “Once you set these goals you can take small steps throughout the day to help make sure you achieve them and the sense of reward when you do can be an excellent energy booster.”

5. Load up on antioxidants

Antioxidants have a multitude of health benefits and getting your dose via a healthy diet can boost your energy levels. Health professional Stephen recommends eating foods rich in nutrients; so lots of dark leafy greens, berries, green tea and even some dark chocolate. Another powerful antioxidant the he suggests is Ubiquinol – the active and more bioavailable form of CoQ10. Found naturally in our bodies, Stephen says Ubiquinol helps to power the body’s cells and supports overall energy, however when we’re stressed these levels can decline and result in fatigue. The solution? “You may want to consult your healthcare professional and check your Ubiquinol levels.”

6. Walk more

Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling exhausted is to do any physical activity, but Stephen says getting your blood pumping, even a brisk 10 minute walk will leave you feeling refreshed and better able to concentrate. “If you find yourself holding off yawns and staring at the clock, have a break and go for a quick walk.” He also recommends taking the stairs whenever possible and to “stand up and stretch your legs every hour or so.” Think of all that unintentional exercise you’ll be getting!

7. Get some sunshine

Vitamin D contributes to balancing mood and fatigue. While we do get it via some foods, the majority of it comes from sunlight. According to Stephen, Vitamin D is an important energy boosting vitamin that many of us are now deficient in. Spending a few minutes sitting in the sun and getting some fresh air will ultimately “boost your mood and revitalise your mind,” he says. Remember your sun safety however, ladies – always slip slop, slap!

Image via Shutterstock

The Lost Practice Of A Rest Day

“He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.” – Benjamin Franklin.

When was the last time you committed yourself to a lazy Sunday? Kicking back in your pj’s with a good movie is not only relaxing, it also works wonders on our health. Our commitments take up a lot of our time, we work, study, exercise, clean, garden and socialise and then we spend our weekends racing around doing errands. Seven days are never enough to get everything done and as such we’ve opted out of having a rest day. The problem with this is, in the midst of our busy lifestyles, we’re the ones that are left suffering because at the end of the day it’s our bodies that will pay the consequences.

RELATED: How To Be More Positive

It’s never easy taking a step back from our goals, ambitions, or commitments to say no, I need a day off. It takes a well-adjusted, realised person to understand how essential it is to drop everything and lounge around on the couch. Your life isn’t going anywhere if you sit down for a few hours, but your health just might.

Any physician will tell you that rest is essential for physical health. Any athlete will tell you our bodies need time to repair themselves and regenerate. Even some of mankind’s greatest philosophers would tell us our minds need rest.

Leonardo Da Vinci once said: “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.” And Ovid, the Roman poet, said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

Our muscles need time to repair themselves so they can strengthen, our minds need time to relax if we want to achieve greatness and our bodies need rest if we want to prevent ourselves from getting run down.

From corporate to political leaders, humanitarians to police officers, successful people know and understand that our bodies are our temples and it’s our responsibility to look after them. Yes we need to eat well, remain physically active, and maintain strong emotional connections but we also need to relax. Everywhere we turn there’s articles and advertisements telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing. But the simplest thing we can do for our health is the one we all forget.

RELATED: 7 Healthy Habits Of Naturally Energetic People

Traditionally Sunday is a rest day. To give an example of how easy this is to forget, I’m going to give an outline of my Sunday this week. I woke up early and hit the gym. When I came home I scrubbed the house from top to bottom, then I went outside raked up the leaves and mowed the lawn. Then I came inside, had a shower, and spent the rest of the afternoon working on my blog. Then come Monday I’m back at my work desk working 9-5 for the next five days. This week, and pretty much every week that’s passed for months now, I’ve neglected my rest and despite this being perfectly normal in our society, it doesn’t make it right.

This is why I’m challenging myself to rest every Sunday. To take a step back from my busy lifestyle, forget my chores and my ambitions and just relax. I can’t say I will be able to do it straight away, but I’m sure as hell going to try. So what do you say, will you join me in my pursuit for occasional laziness?

Image via www.eligiblemagazine.com 

Top Tips For Your Pregnancy Workout

Did you ever watch What To Expect When You’re Expecting? And think, I’m going to be Elizabeth Banks, who has the awful pregnancy experience while Brooklyn Decker is still wearing stilettos and going to pre-natal yoga classes. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, but staying fit and healthy during a pregnancy is good for you and your baby. However, there are certain things that you should take into consideration when you’ve got a bubba growing inside of you.

RELATED: What Dads-To-Be Can Experience During Pregnancy

There’s a certain false impression that working on those abs is going to help you push out the baby when the (terrifying) time comes but accredited exercise physiologist Kate Faber from Precision Physio is here to bust that myth, saying it’s just not going to help in the way you think it is.

kate faber, precision physio

Kate Says, “Many women (and some medical, health and fitness professionals) believe there is great need to strengthen the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, in order to assist in pushing the baby out during delivery. While this may seem logical, the abdominal muscles are not directly involved in delivering the baby – the uterus and pelvic floor are responsible for that!”

And if you’re thinking that’s not a problem, but you’ll continue to do crunches to make it easier to get that flat belly after your pregnancy, you should definitely think again about that one.

“While you may think, “well, it couldn’t hurt, right?” Unfortunately, some women will find the tighter and stronger their abdominal muscles are, the more likely they are to develop abdominal separation (diastasis recti). So it’s not always easy, but you need to find the right balance between maintaining all-over, whole-body strength (which still includes the abdominal muscles), without overdoing it and putting yourself at risk of abdominal separation,” says Kate.

Pregnancy exercise is a great way to keep yourself fit and minimize the extra weight gain that isn’t pregnancy weight but just ‘I can eat whatever I want weight’. Everyone gains weight during pregnancy, but let’s take a tip from Jessica Simpson to put down the deep fried Oreos and Southern spiced wings and keep it healthy for the baby. Eating a healthy diet and engaging in some pregnancy-friendly exercise is a great way to keep yourself fit and not have to shock your system once you’ve given birth and you’re looking to get your pre-baby bod back.

Kate also has some great pregnancy tips for the type of exercise you are looking to do. You should always take your baby’s health into consideration and see your body as a place that you are nurturing a life. Women don’t need to be completely wrapped in cotton wool when they’re pregnant, but there are safety tips to follow when considering how you’re going to work out.

Let’s take a look at Kate’s top pregnancy workout tips:

  1. Include a gradual warm-up and cool-down pre and post exercise.
  2. Exercise at an intensity that is comfortable for you – avoid unsupervised high-intensity exercise during pregnancy if you weren’t doing it before you fell pregnant.
  3. Stay well hydrated and avoid over-heating.
  4. Avoid any activities (e.g. very heavy lifting) which cause you to hold your breath or alter your posture.
  5. Beyond 16 weeks, be careful when lying on your back – you may be more comfortable in a seated or incline position.
  6. Avoid activities which increase the risk of physical injury (e.g. contact sports).
  7. If you do develop abdominal separation, seek guidance around exercises you need to include or avoid.
  8. Get moving – reduce time spent sitting and get regular exercise in!
  9. Maintain good bowel habits – go when you need to go!
  10. Practice safe manual handling techniques – whether it be at work or home.

Keeping it gentle is key and activities like walking, swimming, yoga and pilates are low impact activities that keep your body fit and build a strong cardiovascular system, which makes mum and bub healthier.

For more information about Kate Faber and Precision Physio, you can visit their website.

Images via myrtylebeachbirthservices.com and precisionathletica.com.au

Has Belle Gibson Been Caught Out Lying Again?

Just when you thought disgraced health entrepreneur Belle Gibson couldn’t land herself in anymore hot water, the 23-year-old’s mum has come forward and called her bluff – again.

RELATED: Belle Gibson’s Fall From Grace

Talking to the The Australian Women’s Weekly, Gibson’s mother Natalie said she wanted to “set the record straight” after the former health guru blamed her “troubled childhood” for her problems in sorting fact from fiction.

Slamming Gibson’s family troubles as “a load of rubbish,” she said: “Her brother is not autistic and she’s barely done a minute’s housework in her life. I’ve practically worked myself into an early grave to give that girl everything she wanted in life.

“I just couldn’t sit by and let her say these things about her family.”

Gibson, who last month confessed to lying about having cancer and building her The Whole Pantry empire off the back of a false story, tried to pardon herself with the tale of growing up without parental guidance. “It was my responsibility to do grocery shopping, do the washing, arrange medical appointments and pick up my brother. I didn’t have any toys,” she recently told the Women’s Weekly.

“I think my life has just got so many complexities around it and within it, that it’s just easier to assume [I’m lying].”

Well, her mum Natalie is calling bullshit and told the magazine that the 23-year-old needed to apologise for her actions and spend a good part of her life repaying her debts and doing volunteer work. “She’s got to look inside her own soul. The only way she is going to get forgiveness is to stop playing the victim card and spend the next few years doing nothing but charity work for cancer victims.”

While Belle still hasn’t issued an official apology, because let’s face it – “respectfully coming to the table” and asking  “to heal and grow” is far from a sincere sorry, her mother has stepped up to offer condolences. “I can’t tell you how embarrassed we are about what she has done. And we sincerely wish to apologise for anyone who was deceived by Belle.”

What happens now is anyone’s guess. Will Gibson respond to her mother’s claims? Will she finally take full responsibility for her actions and try and make amends? Or is it too little too late?

What do you think?

Image via Daily Mail

Sip The Health Benefits Of Tea

I love walking into the tea aisle in the supermarket. It’s almost like the confectionary aisle for grown ups. It’s no longer just English breakfast and earl grey, tea has come such a long way over the last couple of years. It’s not just for pinky waving nannies anymore; tea is trendy.

RELATED: The Surprise Benefits In Your Morning Coffee

A huge percentage of the population drink coffee, but tea is on the uprising, not just for the taste and flavours, but for the benefits to brings to the body. Teatoxes are a thing and Twinings now have more flavours of tea than Cadbury does of chocolate. It might be time to ditch the double shot soy caramel latte for a nice, hot cuppa tea to rejuvenate and relax.

Black Tea

Black tea contains a lot of caffeine, so it has similar benefits to coffee in relation to giving you alertness, fat burning and more, except that it also contains two types of antioxidants that have been linked to lower cholesterol levels. Drinking two or more cups of black tea per day has also been linked to lowering the risk of a stroke.

Green Tea

Green tea contains lots of antioxidants that may interfere with the growth of some types of cancer. Green tea also prevents clogging of the arteries, thus helping to reduce cholesterol levels and stroke and can also be a fat burner, so grab a cup!

White Tea

No, this isn’t adding milk to your cup of English breakfast. White tea is given its name because of the soft, downy hairs on the buds. White tea is the highest in antioxidants and the lowest in caffeine. It’s also said that white tea has the highest cancer fighting properties.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has been found to lower levels of bad cholesterol, which is one of the great benefits of tea.

Chamomile

Chamomile tea has very soothing benefits and has also been shown to help stop side effects of diabetes like loss of vision and nerve damage. Chamomile is also said to stunt the growth of cancer cells.

Image via rivertea.com

5 Essential Foods For A Better Body

If you want a better body then you need to consider your diet. You need to look at the nutrients you consume and plan for a balanced diet. Cut out excess takeaways, fast foods and products high in saturated fat and boost the number of ‘superfoods’ you consume on a regular basis. Here’s 5 things to get into your diet straight away in your quest for a better body:

Broccoli

This traditional green veg has earned a bit of an image makeover in recent years, with many people realising that the health benefits it possesses make it an essential food for a healthy body. It contains vitamins C, A and K natural folic acid, calcium, fibre, (notably indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane). The British Dietetic Association guards against the more headline-grabbing claims that broccoli can combat cancer, heart disease and diabetes – but says it is a healthy and versatile food, making it an essential part of your diet.

Brown rice

This is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, vitamin B-6 and niacin and also provides you with iron and zinc. It’s filling so will satisfy your hunger for a long time. The ‘polishing’ process of creating white rice removes many of the nutrients that brown rice contains so making a simple switch to this will give you a much healthier option without involving a big change.

Berries

Whether it’s blueberries, cranberries or strawberries – get plenty of berries into your diet for a better body. Strawberries are high in folic acid and contain more vitamin C than oranges, blueberries get their colour from powerful antioxidants while cranberries support healthy bacteria. All berries are a good source of fibre – leaving you feeling full and avoiding the need to snack on sugary treats.

Pomegranate

This fabulous fruit is rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols which can help to combat disease, making it one of the most powerful fruits when it comes to health. The seeds are ideal in salads or a host of other dishes while the juice can be a refreshing drink. Avoid buying drinks laced with too much sugar.

Dark chocolate

Yes, chocolate really can be good for you. Dark chocolate – ideally with more than 70% cocoa content since it’s the cocoa that you need – has a number of potential benefits. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. It also contains the antioxidants catechins and procyanidins. Beware some of the grand promises you may have read but dark chocolate can help with blood pressure and stress levels.

These five foods are essential to getting a diet that will help give you a better body but getting the right mix can be very tough. That’s why you should also consider the sensible use of supplements. Don’t use these instead of food but to make sure you get everything you need – particularly if your better body is part of a project to get fitter, more toned or enhance your sporting performance. Fysique Nutrition is the latest brand in this field and has a variety of products that can help towards your better body.

How To Create A Healthy Habit

It’s said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but for those of us who take a little longer, let’s extend it to a month. Giving yourself adequate time is one of the most important factors in creating a new healthy habit, as it means that you are putting aside minutes of your day to do this one thing that you will continue to do for a lifetime once you’ve created it.

RELATED: How To Kick Bad Eating Habits

Healthy habits such as exercise, meditation, eating well and reading are often put on the back burner for ‘now’ objectives like work, television shows and nights out. But our bodies need us to create healthy habits to keep them in peak condition, so that we can better handle whatever life decides to throw at us.

Creating a healthy habit isn’t easy. It takes hard work and a bit of dedication, but once it becomes a habit, it becomes much easier to achieve every day. If you’re looking to create a healthy habit, follow our top tips on how to make it happen.

1. Set aside time

Set aside time for you to do your healthy habit everyday. Once you have the time, you will be more inclined to do it because you will feel like you can. This may mean shuffling around responsibilities, but your health is important and it deserves time too. Whether it means getting to the gym for an hour, or putting aside time to cut up vegetables for the day, health needs your time and effort.

2. Use your calendar

Use your calendar to mark down the days that you achieved your healthy habit. Use something that stands out, like a cross or a star on the days you accomplished what you wanted to do and try to keep this going for a solid month. By then, marking your calendar may well become a habit, too, and you can continue to keep track of how you are going.

3. Patience and perseverance

Keep at it. Keep trying and don’t give up. Be patient with yourself and allow your body and brain to become accustomed to something new.

4. Write down your goals

Everything becomes more official when you write it down on paper. Marriage certificates, divorce papers and loans are signed off on, so why not do the same and make a contract with yourself. Write down what you want so you know exactly what you’re working for and how you’re going to do it.

5. Prepare yourself

Maybe this means buying a gym membership, maybe it’s buying vegetables, or perhaps it means getting a yoga mat. Whatever it is, invest in the necessary equipment to ensure you have a strong base to work off.

Image via cereal4brekkie.org.au

5 Celeb Men Who Are Regulars At The Day Spa

Gone are the days when men required just a quick shave to look good, now it’s taking almost as much effort as females to get ready. With celeb heartthrobs making beauty treatments are “cool” thing to do for men, there’s been a growing increase in the number of males visiting their local day spa and indulging in some pampering.

Contrary to popular belief, a trip to the day spa is not just a feminine activity. Thanks to celebs like George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Keith Richards, David Beckham and many others; the day spa is no longer the dominion of women. More attention to beauty is now are regular thing for men – manicures are no longer just a female luxury, waxing is more widespread than just the back or chest area and facials are actually a way to spoil yourself.

These days, men are taking a lot more pride in their physical appearance and want to look great in the public eye. Day spa treatments for men are booming in popularity so we decided to check out the top male celebs that are regular goers at their local day spa and exactly just what treatments they get.

1. David Beckham

Crowned the biggest male beauty icon last year, David Beckham is renowned for his sexy well-groomed looks. From regular at-home beauty treatments with his wife Victoria Beckham, the footballing legend has indulged in the likes of Botox injections, facials and waxing. Both Beckhams’ have given the bird poo treatment a go and swear by the Japanese face mask which acts as an exfoliate and unclogs pores. It is believed this beautifying facial was recommended to the Beckhams by Tom Cruise.

Beckham’s attention to detail and pride in the way he looks has sparked inspiration all over the world, with many men following closely in his footsteps. Thanks to his regular beauty treatments, David Beckham regularly tops male celeb polls for his handsome and fashionable style.

2. Snoop Dogg

This rap superstar is known for posting pictures on his Instagram account showing off his freshly manicured French nail. Occasionally mixing up his style with Rasta graphics and dollar sign prints on his nails, Snoop Dogg is definitely guilty of enjoying the odd beauty treatment – and loves it too!

And why shouldn’t he? It’s been proven that such beauty treatments offer a much needed way for people to spoil themselves and feel good. According to a study done by lastminute.com, the top reason men listed for taking a trip to their local day spa was simply for a “pick-me-up” – and almost everyone can relate to that. Other male celebs that too have enjoyed the odd manicure or pedicure include Johnny Depp, Al Pacino and Keith Richards, just to name a few.

3. Jay Z

Rap icon Jay Z has also proven that regular trips to your local day spa are definitely a normal part of life – even if you are a guy. Known for his regular appearances at New York day spa Skin by Mamie, Jay Z pampers himself with hydrating facials and skin extractions to stay looking fresh and sexy.

Usher too has been known to indulge in a variety of facials at the same day spa, proving these beauty treatments are pretty contagious for those male celebs. Even if the trend has stemmed from female partners motivating their men to pay more attention to their looks and attend day spas as a couple, the benefits these treatments are having on men are undeniable.

4. George Clooney

As far as handsome and well-groomed men go, actor George Clooney is definitely up there with the very best. Closely followed by Brad Pitt, these guys know what it takes to look (and feel) great. Famously known for his ridiculously good looks and extremely toned figure, Clooney goes all out with his beauty treatments.

Whilst the norm – facials, waxing and the occasional Botox treatment – is on Clooney’s list of beauty rituals, he has inspired a new Hollywood craze in your not-so-average beauty treatments. Referred to as “tightening the tackle”, celeb men are becoming increasingly motivated to get the skin on their genital area “ironed” out thanks to various comments made by Clooney to get it done instead of his eyes.

It’s become a Clooney-inspired cosmetic treatment that like a women’s Brazilian wax, will eventually become very much of the norm. A similar procedure to that of an eye lift, the cosmetic treatment is said to offer men some pleasing results.

5. P.Diddy

In a bid to look luscious for the ladies, P.Diddy has admitted on many occasions his chosen beauty treatment – waxing, down there. Urging all men to follow in his footsteps, P.Diddy has expressed the importance of such beauty treatments to keep things “in shape” for their female lovers. To top off his regular day spa visits, P.Diddy is also known to treat himself to a manicure and pedicure too.

By Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Keturah Day Spa, Australia’s multi award winning spas for relaxing and pampering treatments for men

How To Get The Ultimate Night’s Sleep

Counting sheep yet staying up all night? Sleep expert and Chairman of the Sleep Health Foundation, David Hillman, shares his top tips to help you get the ultimate night’s sleep!

1. Set the mood for slumber

Your room should be quiet and dark. Before you go to sleep, be sure to turn off the lights and any other stimuli such as the TV and completely close your blinds or curtains.

2. Sleep in a clean and pleasant environment

You know the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Well, a mess-free and uncluttered room will help aide a clear and undistracted mind. Spend just a few minutes each night tidying your bedroom before you get into bed. Instead of throwing your clothes on the floor, hang them up or fold them neatly in a pile to be put away properly later.

3. Get the room temperature right

There’s nothing worse than a freezing cold bedroom at night. An hour before you’re ready to hit the sack, get your room temperature right by closing the windows and adjusting the air conditioner or heater in winter. You’ll sleep better when you have the balance right.

4. Avoid interruptions

Switch your phone to silent mode so if it rings or you get a message you won’t be woken. If your partner is noisy then ear plugs can help block out the snoring or restless noises. Similarly eye masks are a great sleep companion whether at home or away, to help eliminate light and movement.

5. Choose the right bed and bedding 

It’s essential to have the right bed and bedding. Have an expert help you pick your mattress and pillow. You’ll be surprised what a huge difference this can make!

6. Manage jet lag 

If you’re travelling across time zones, help your body clock adapt more quickly to the time at your destination by adjusting your watch and phone as soon as you get on the plane. Try to eat meals and sleep as you will in your new time zone as soon as you can to make the adjustment process easier.

7. Bring a piece of home with you 

For some, sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings is difficult, no matter how comfortable it is. Keep to familiar routines. Bringing a few personal items from home (e.g. a photograph, a mug, reading material) may help you to relax and bring familiarity to your new location.

8. Wind down and relax before bed 

Have a buffer zone before bedtime. Sort out any problems well before going to bed. This may mean setting aside ‘worry time’ during the day. Use this time to go over the day’s activities and work out a plan of action for the next day. Try to avoid using your computer within one hour of bedtime, instead pick up a magazine or book to help take your mind off any problems. Exercise is fine, but not too late in the evening. Find a relaxation technique that works for you.

9. Spend the right amount of time in bed

Most adults need about eight hours sleep every night. Many poor sleepers spend much more than eight hours in bed and this makes fragmented sleep a habit. Except if you have lengthy sleep requirements, limit your time in bed to no more than eight and a half hours. If you often take hours to fall asleep, go to bed later or try reading to help you drift off. Remember that children need more sleep than adults.

10. Things to avoid… 

Alcohol may help you to get off to sleep, but will disrupt your sleep during the night. Caffeine (tea, coffee, cola drinks) and the nicotine in cigarettes are stimulants that can keep you awake. Instead, choose special blends of herbal tea that encourage sleep. Steer clear of sleeping pills except in exceptional circumstances and as advised by your doctor, they won’t fix the cause of your sleeping problem.

What’s your best tip for a good night’s sleep?

How To Avoid The PMS Pig Out

For three weeks out of four, following a healthy eating plan can seem like a piece of cake (or celery), but then PMS strikes and all attempts at following a sensible strategy are lost. Here, Ms Colette Heimowitz, nutritionist and vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals Inc, provides five tips to keep you on track.

“The key is putting strategies in place to combat your PMS cravings,” Ms Heimowitz said.

According to Heimowitz, common premenstrual symptoms include feeling bloated and heavy, lethargic, a ‘bit blue’, and powerful cravings for chocolate and sugar laden foods – many of which can be combated by following a carbohydrate-controlled eating program, such as the Atkins Nutritional Approach.

“In the lead up to ‘that time’, many women may find themselves unable to resist reaching for high carbohydrate, starchy foods such as white bread and white pasta, as well as sweet foods such as lollies, chocolate and pastries – all of which may seem to be a quick fix to boost energy levels and ward off the premenstrual blues, but in actual fact will only lead to a vicious cycle of sugar-highs and lows,” Ms Heimowitz said.

So how can we combat the symptoms of PMS – and the (often) resulting pig out?

Colette Heimowitz’s top five tips for battling the bloat and keeping hormones and blood sugar levels in check include:

1. Avoid stepping on the scales

Many women may hold water and experience weight gain in the lead up to and during their menstrual cycle. Normal weight fluctuation is 2.5 kilograms, and some women may experience gains slightly higher than this during ‘that time’. Seeing your weight increase – or, if you are trying to lose weight, seeing weight loss stall – can be disheartening. Stick to healthy eating and exercise and wait to weigh yourself until after your cycle.

2. Carbohydrate control is key

Adopting a carbohydrate-controlled approach (such as Atkins) is an excellent way to curb your carb and sugar cravings – both in the lead up to and during menstruation, and every other day of the year. Not to mention the fact that high-carb foods are often the culprits of belly bloating and weight gain.

By cutting out processed carbohydrates and sugar-laden foods – such as white bread, chips and lollies – and building your diet around fresh, whole foods – such as lean protein (including meat, poultry, fish, tofu and legumes), plenty of leafy green and fibrous vegetables, healthy natural oils ,dairy, nuts, low sugar fruits , and whole grains– you will find your cravings for high-carb, high-sugar foods will decrease, belly bloating will lesson and you will be on your way to a healthier figure and lifestyle.

3. Never skip a meal or snack

A golden rule for weight management in general, ensuring you eat regular meals and snacks is even more important during menstruation. Eating regularly will help keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel, reducing cravings for high-carb and sugar-laden foods.

4. Exercise

Even light exercise, such as walking or jogging, will encourage your body to produce endorphins – a naturally occurring chemical in your body that boosts mood, and is often considered an elixir of happiness. So if PMS has you feeling blue, one of the best cures is to get off the couch and get your body moving!

5. Keep healthy snacks on hand that will satiate cravings

Craving chocolate or sugar? Keep in mind that caving in to the sweet will only result in your blood sugar levels peaking and then dropping, leaving you feeling worse off than before. Reaching for a low GI, whole food snack – rather than a sugar-laden one – will keep you feeling full for longer and keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel.

If you really can’t pass up the chocolate or sweets, try a low-carb option instead, such as a bar or shake from the Atkins range. High in protein and fibre but low in sugar and carbohydrates – they taste like your regular favourites so will satisfy cravings and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

5 Tips To Help You Fall Asleep Fast

Getting good sleep is important for your health, happiness and productivity, but it’s not always an easy task to do. Isn’t it frustrating when you decide to take charge of your daily routine and go to bed early, only to find yourself tossing and turning for hours after that? While frustration doesn’t help (if anything, it’ll make you stay awake longer), here some things that do.

RELATED: Tips To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

1. Turn off screens an hour or two before bed time.

The blue light from our devices suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin and tricks our minds into believing that it’s still day time.

2. Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day.

It takes 5-7 hours for half of the caffeine to leave your body. It takes even longer to eliminate all the caffeine from your system, so if you have a cup of coffee in the afternoon or at night, it can affect your sleep.

3. Read a non-fiction book.

Do you love reading before bed? A good fiction book can easily keep you awake all night. Change it to non-fiction and notice your eyes starting to close only a few minutes later.

4. Listen to a podcast or meditation.

Meditation can help you relax, but if you find your mind wandering back to your worries too often, listening to a podcast can be a better idea. If it’s engaging enough, it will distract you from your own thoughts just enough to help you drift off to sleep.

5. Count your blessings.

Research has found that having a gratitude practice helps get more sleep and better quality of sleep. If you practice counting your blessings at bed time, it can also help you fall asleep faster. Instead of counting sheep, challenge yourself to find ten things in your day that you’re grateful for. Don’t be surprised if you’re asleep long before you get to ten!

Image by AlexVan via pixabay.com

Top Five Christmas Stress-Busters

Has Christmas stress got you reaching for the eggnog and/or Veuve Clicquot and Christmas cake you stashed away early for your party guests? Or, instead of gift-shopping, are you fantasising about punching Santa Claus in the face?

Related: How To Prevent School Holiday Hell

Never fear, help is at hand to combat that crazy Christmas stress thanks to Escape Haven Wellness Retreats and founder, Janine Hall. Here, Janine (pictured) shares her top wellness tips to destress and decrease your waistline over the silly season.

Janine is a wellness expert who’s been helping women unwind at her Bali, Byron Bay, Portugal and Morocco retreats since 2010.

Having founded the retreats in an aim to bring peace and well-being to the lives of increasingly stressed out women, Janine 40, recognises how hard it is to find time to yourself to unwind during the festive season.

However, she says these quick and easy stress-busters, see below, will help save your sanity in the busy holiday period. What’s more, stress is one of the biggest contributors of women’s weight gain, as well as other symptoms including loss of sex drive, nausea, headaches and frequent colds.

“When we experience stress, cortisol – also known as the stress hormone – is released which leads to high levels of fat being deposited in the abdominal area. An area of fat many women struggle to lose,” Janine says. “Many women will also emotionally eat when they are stressed, and not pay attention to the foods they are ingesting.

“Women will often put their family and careers ahead of their own well-being, and this is has a long-term negative affect on both their health, particularly their weight.”

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Top Five Christmas Stress-Busters:

  1. Think happy and be happy. Your thoughts are extremely powerful and can have a major impact on the way you act and look at life. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, take a minute to take a few deep breaths from your stomach and think about what makes you happy and calm. You’ll begin to see an instant mood raiser.
  2. Take time out to feel and think. For a few minutes each day, take the time to switch off your mind. Going on a walk and getting some fresh air can help give you a fresh perspective on the day. Taking the time to experience nature and immerse yourself with your surroundings will help give you a sense of calm and inner peace, giving you the strength to combat any problems you may encounter.
  3. Aromatherapy is your best friend. Scent is one of our most powerful senses, and can have a profound impact on how we feel in our day-to-day lives. Using calming oils can easily promote a tranquil and soothing mood. Try using different scents to evoke different moods such as energising, calming, and relaxing – the possibilities are endless!
  4. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is key to maintaining health and well-being. Without a proper night’s sleep, you will find yourself irritable and easily stressed out. Giving yourself the time to sleep provides you with good energy levels and will also help you to feel better and make calmer decisions.
  5. Don’t take things so seriously. Remember to take the time to enjoy yourself; laughter is so important to our overall well-being. Joking around will help boost your mood and fight off small worries.

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For more information on Escape Haven, visit www.escapehaven.com.

Preparing Your Body For Pregnancy

Preconception care prepares your body for a successful, healthy pregnancy and is one of the most responsible choices you can make for you and your baby’s health. It helps eliminate harmful substances from your diet known to affect reproductive and general health and foetal development and should be considered by everyone looking to start a family.

“You need a healthy body to make a healthy baby,” explained naturopath and author, Lisa Guy. “It takes three months for female eggs to mature and four months for sperm to mature which is why it is so important to consider preconception care as early as possible, at least four months in advance, to increase your chances of a successful, healthy pregnancy.”

“Being healthy while trying to conceive is vital for both you and your baby. The preconception period is the time to make life changes for you and your partner that can help boost fertility, reduce problems during pregnancy and assist in recovery from birth,” added Lisa.

Here, Lisa outlines her essential tips for preconception care;

1. Examine your diet

At no other time in your life is your diet more important than before, during and straight after pregnancy. Eating a wholesome, well-balanced diet is vital and will increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. Try to include at least five portions of fruit or vegetables, protein, fish and some iron-rich food in your diet and make fast food and sweets an occasional treat.

2. Take essential supplements

Although nothing takes away from the significance of a healthy, well-balanced pre-pregnancy diet, nutritional supplementation is extremely important and is known to help prevent congenital defects and malformations often caused by nutritional deficiencies. Taking a supplement every day is a small change that will pay big rewards. When planning pregnancy, there are three essential vitamins and minerals your body needs:

  • Folic Acid: Essential for healthy foetal development and reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, folic acid is crucial in pre-pregnancy. You should consider taking folic acid three months prior to conception. Each FABFOL tablet contains 500mcg of folic acid which is the recommended daily intake for the Australian diet.
  • Zinc: Zinc works to support and strengthen the immune system and is important for hormone balance and to boost fertility.
  • Omega 3: Increasing the intake of omega 3 fats helps support reproductive health.pregnancy

3. Kick unhealthy habits

Making some important lifestyle changes is a great way to prepare for pregnancy and will help ensure a healthy conception. Avoid anything that poses a health risk to you and your baby such as alcohol, cigarettes and some prescription medication.

4. Visit your GP

A trip to your GP for a preconception consult is also important when you begin thinking about starting a family. Your GP will provide you with expert advice on planning your pregnancy, discuss any health problems or concerns, lifestyle issues, diet and organise any essential pre-pregnancy immunisations.

FABFOL has all your nutritional needs covered pre, during and post pregnancy, so all you need to focus on is your growing baby and is available from pharmacies nationally. FABFOL 56 tablets RRP $24.95.

The Health Benefits of Wine

Aussies love wine, and we’re not bad at making it either. Not only is Australia consistently ranked among the world’s top wine-producing regions, our wine is now sold in over 100 countries around the world. Australian wines have taken home prizes from nearly every international wine competition, and we hold the record for the sale price of a single bottle (predictably, it was an early Grange vintage that sold for $50,000 at auction in 2004).

RELATED: TGIF Tequila Cocktail Recipe

Health and wine: Where did it all start?

Wine has long been associated with a wide range of remedial benefits, and is the world’s earliest documented man-made medicine. Significantly, it has a credible history of use as a primitive form of medication “being recommended variously as a safe alternative to drinking water, an antiseptic for treating wounds, a digestive aid and as a cure for a wide range of aliments, including lethargy and diarrhoea.”

Resveratrol – A magic ingredient?

Of the many chemicals contained in red wine, resveratrol is a phenolic antioxidant that was discovered in 1939, and since has been subject to extensive clinical study and investigation. In addition to grape skins, the chemical is also found in peanuts, blueberries and cranberries.

“Resveratrol is a stilbenoidphenolic compound found in wine, produced in the grape skins and in the leaves of grape vines. It has received a lot of attention in both the media and medical research community for its potential health benefits.”

Findings from animal tests have been favourable for resveratrol to date; it was seen to lower blood sugar levels in mice, and improve cardiovascular function, while extending the longevity of fish.

Furthermore, the compound “has been shown to be a potent biological agent that may offer protection against cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

Although red wine and white vine grape varieties produce similar amounts of resveratrol on the vine, red wine ultimately contains more than white, since red wines are produced by maceration (soaking the grape skins in the must).

Thus, red wine is widely recognized to have more health benefits than white wine. The length of time that grapes are left to ferment determines the amount of the chemical that the finished wine contains.

FACT: Red wine has more antioxidants than açaí juice

But it doesn’t end with resveratrol, red wine is full of polyphenols including proanthocyanidin; a powerful antioxidant. In fact, some red wines have more antioxidants than commercial grape juice, raw blueberries and even miracle fruits like açaí. In the fruit juice category, a full-bodied red wine will even beat pomegranate juice.

Wines with highest quantities of antioxidants are generally the darkest red in colour. Since antioxidants come from the pips and skins of a grape, as well as from contact with oak, full-bodied red wines that have been aged in oak will have the highest antioxidant properties.

But what is the value of consuming food or drink that are high in antioxidants? Doctor Philip Norrie explains: “An anti-oxidant is a thing that stops oxidation. Oxidation is basically rusting, so when we’re ageing we’re oxidising or degenerating or rusting, so if you can block that process, then you get all these health benefits because vascular disease, dementia, diabetes, all these cancers are forms of degeneration or oxidation.”

Everything in moderation

All the medical and scientific studies define drinking in moderation as drinking approximately two standard drinks on any one day for an average man, and one to two drinks for an average woman, so that any potential harm to the human body is minimized, and any potential benefit is maximised.

Image via fitsugar.com

5 Tips To Help You Catch More Zzzs

As part of Sleep Awareness Week (september 29-October 5), the Sleep Health Foundation and Forty Winks are urging people to do their best to put an end to restless nights and reassess their sleep habits.

Newspoll findings from a recent survey commissioned by Forty Winks revealed that work or family stress is the number one reason why we’re not getting enough shut eye, closely followed by being unable to unwind. Only one in 10 Australians always feel rested and relaxed, highlighting a significant national sleep debt.

Prof David Hillman, the chair of the Sleep Health Foundation, said:

“Sleep is essential and a lack of sleep can have a major impact on mood, concentration, memory and quality of life. While different people need different amounts of sleep, on average adults require eight hours each night, teenagers nine hours and primary school children need ten hours.” 

Forty Winks’ top five tips to help you catch enough bedtime Zzzs: 

  1. Use the hour before bed to unwind and relax before your head hits the pillow – try taking a warm bath, listening to quiet music or reading
  2. Literally switch off and remove distracting devices in the bedroom such as the television, computer and phone
  3. Create a relaxing, dark and cool sleeping environment
  4. Establish a sleep routine and try to stick to it
  5. Comfort is key – make sure you’re happy with your mattress, bedding and pillows

How do your sleep habits fare? Rate your sleeping habits during Sleep Awareness Week to get instant personalised tips for a better night’s sleep at www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au.

How To Prevent School Holiday Hell

Are you dreading the impending start to the school holidays? Do you find it hard to relax yourself, when caring for exuberant littlies? You’re not alone – many, many women find family holidays stressful. In fact, family demands could see you crave another holiday as soon as you return to work!

Never fear, help is at hand thanks to wellness expert Janine Hall (pictured), the gorgeous and successful entrepreneur/founder of Escape Haven – a group of popular women’s surf, yoga and luxury spa retreats in Bali, Byron Bay, Portugal and Morocco. “There is this idea that holidays are supposed to be happy and stress-free, however that’s not often the case. There is a lot of planning and organising that goes into a holiday,” Janine says.

“Coupled with the distraction of work emails we shouldn’t be reading and families demanding our undivided attention, these factors can dramatically impact the enjoyment of a holiday.

“Every year women pour into our wellness retreats with physical indicators of stress and anxiety. However that doesn’t mean the solution is to skip a holiday entirely.”

Here, Janine, 40, gives SHESAID readers her top five tips to avoid holiday stress:

  1. Make time for “me time”: Set time aside for you: this means switching off emails and having time away from the kids. No matter whether it be taking a leisurely bubble bath, meditating or writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal, setting time aside for you is integral for keeping stress at bay.
  2. Get the kids to cook dinner: Put your feet up and get the kids to cook you dinner. It’s also a great kids’ activity which teaches them how to cook with healthy ingredients and safety in the kitchen.
  3. Take a digital vacation: Between our iPhones, computers and TVs, we’re constantly online checking emails and the news. Do a digital detox – turn your phone off and get outdoors!
  4. Book a wellness retreat: Take a break from family and work pressures by booking a solo wellness retreat and giving yourself the holiday you deserve.
  5. Go on, girlfriend, get crafty: Get creative – whether it be crafting a photo album, sewing a new skirt or repotting plants in your garden. Getting your creative juices flowing will help relieve some of the stress you’ve been feeling from work and family pressures.
    Visit www.escapehaven.com.health, wellness, school holidays, holiday stress, unwind, relax

5 Tips To Improve PMS Symptoms

The majority of women have at least one PMS horror story up their sleeves. Whether it’s mentally attacking your partner for breathing too loudly or having to take two days off work to cope with the cramps from hell, research has shown that eight in every ten women experience PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) symptoms of some kind. But the truth is that although PMS is very common, it’s actually not normal.

What causes PMS?

According to the experts, there are four main categories of PMS:

Type A: The most common type of PMS affecting up to 80 per cent of women, this category is defined as being the ‘Anxiety’ form of PMS and includes mood swings, anxiety, tension and irritability.

Type C: Affecting up to 50 per cent of women in the days before their period, Type C (for ‘Cravings’ includes headaches, fatigue, increased appetite and yep, you got it, longings for sweet foods.

Type D: Labeled as the ‘Depression’ category, this type of PMS can be felt as depression, loneliness, decreased co-ordination, clumsiness and forgetfulness.

Type H: This type of PMS manifests as a water imbalance or ‘Hyperhydration’. Affecting over 40 per cent of women before their period, symptoms include bloating and weight gain, water retention and breast tenderness.

The key? Each of these forms of PMS is linked to hormonal imbalances. For Type A’s (the most common type of imbalance) the cause is excessive oestrogen and decreased amounts of progesterone. For Type D’s, the opposite is true with not enough oestrogen and excessive amounts of progesterone being the cause.

You can determine the exact hormonal imbalance(s) wreaking havoc with your period by visiting your naturopath and asking for a saliva test. Until then, you can follow these five easy steps to support and nurture healthy hormonal balance:

1. Manage stress

Known as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol is a vital hormone secreted by your adrenal glands throughout the day. In small doses cortisol can have a positive influence on the body, but when excreted in higher and more prolonged doses, it can negatively impact your cognitive function, sleep patterns, blood pressure, thyroid function, blood sugar levels, bone density, immunity, abdominal fat and more.

And although cortisol doesn’t cause PMS directly, as cortisol production is favoured over progesterone even when oestrogen levels are normal, this sneaky stress hormone can actually manage to make PMS symptoms worse. To help combat this reaction, you can actively engage in activities that calm and relax your nervous system. Our top five relaxation boosting activities are meditating, journaling, practicing yoga, creating a gratitude journal and spending time in nature.

2. Boost your intake of greens

Cruciferous and green veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy contain Indole-3-carbinol, which is a powerful agent used in detoxifying the liver and helping to process hormones along better pathways. Aim for a splash of greens in every meal and you’ll be well on your way to balanced hormones.

3. Eliminate processed foods

Research has shown that simple carbohydrates such as white bread and sugary snacks like croissants, cakes and cookies can increase PMS symptoms such as irritability and water retention.

As a general philosophy for happy hormones, our motto is to eat as close to what nature provides as possible. If you’re feeling stuck (and are really craving something sweet!), you can always try swapping a sweet treat for a healthy raw dessert. Check out the White Zebra blog for some easy dessert ideas.

4. Invest in your sleep

It’s now common knowledge in the medical and wellness world that there is a symbiotic relationship between sleep and hormones. Hormonal imbalances can cause chaos with your sleep patterns and in the same way, disruptions to your sleep quality and length can negatively impact your hormone balance.

The secret to healing your hormones from the inside out? Chomp down on magnesium rich foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, beans and lentils. You can then follow it up with a relaxing sleep ritual that allows you to wind down at least an hour before bed. Next, aim for eight hours of quality sleep a night and you’ll see some positive changes in your health, energy levels and hormone balance before long.

5. Get help from an expert

And finally, consider visiting a naturopath for herbs or supplements to help improve your liver function. A naturopath can also help with herbs for managing stress, improving sleep quality and improving progesterone production.

Healing your hormones needn’t be a difficult task: with the right approach and mindset and by following the above tips you can start balancing your hormones and combating PMS almost immediately. 

By Fiona Caddies, co-designer of WhiteZebra, a health website set to centralize the teachings of a credible suite of esteemed health professionals which feature a high concentration of current news and practical ideas. A yoga, running, dancing and gymnastics fanatic, Fiona naturally flips and moves with electricity through life. She created a thriving Personal Training, Yoga & Nutrition Coaching Studio in NSW and touched the lives of hundreds of people. WhiteZebra was born out of her desire to inspire an unlimited amount of people searching for authentically sophisticated information on holistic health.   

4 Most Common Winter Sport Injuries

Injuries have a major, but often preventable, impact on the health of people of all ages. It is the largest cause of death for those aged under 35, and leaves many with serious disability or long-term conditions. Osteopathy Australia reminds that most of the common winter sports injuries can be treated by your local osteopath with a combination of traditional methods and modern scientific philosophies.

According to Osteopathy Australia, the four most common winter sports injuries patients address with include:

  • Neck and back strains
  • Shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries
  • Hip and pelvic injuries such as osteitis pubis (overuse injury characterised by tissue damage and inflammation to the pelvis at the site where the two pubic bones join, resulting in groin pain)
  • Knee, leg and ankle injuries

Injury facts:

  • Hamstring and groin injuries invariably involve low back or pelvic restriction and imbalances
  • Knee pain is often related to poor foot and ankle mechanics, thigh muscle tension and hip dysfunction
  • Osteitis pubis is related to pelvic and lower limb strains
  • Shoulder injuries can be caused by tension in the ribs, neck, shoulder blade and upper back
  • Shin splints involve poor mechanics of both leg bones
  • Joint injections and pain killers may only mask the problem. Unless you deal directly with the cause of your problem, further injury and joint degeneration can result

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Did you know?

  • According to Sports Medicine Australia snowboarding is still one of the most popular sports with an estimated participant growth rate of 20 per cent per year which exceeds that of other snow sports. The rate of injury for snowboarding is four injuries per 1000 days.
  • In 2010–11, there were 472,000 hospitalisations due to injury, or 5 per cent of all hospitalisations. Given that some injuries result in more than one stay in hospital, it is estimated that these stays involved just over 438,000 people.
  • Falls (40 per cent), other unintentional injury (33 per cent) and transport accidents (12 per cent) were the three main causes of injury. Other unintentional injury covers a broad range of causes, including exposure to electric currents, contact with venomous animals and plants, and being caught or jammed between objects.

Are Black Beans The Healthiest Foods On The Planet?

Black beans, also known as turtle beans, are extremely healthy and jam packed full of vitamins and nutrients that can benefit your health. Whether you eat them fresh or from a can, the health benefits are the same.

So here are some fast facts about black beans:

  • They have a rich flavour sometimes compared to mushrooms.
  • One cup of black beans provides 15 grams of protein and none of the saturated fat found in red meat which means that they are an excellent choice for vegetarians or for those needing more protein in their diet.
  • Black beans contain no cholesterol.
  • When teamed with rice they provide all of the essential amino acids that your body needs.
  • Black beans have the highest level of antioxidant activity compared to all other types of beans.  Antioxidants can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
  • They are high in fibre – a cup of cooked beans contains 15 grams.
  • Black beans contain soluble and insoluble fibre.  The insoluble fibre aids digestion and prevents constipation while the soluble fibre helps lower cholesterol and blood-sugar levels.
  • One cup of black beans contains approximately 120 milligrams of magnesium which is commonly associated with cardiovascular protection.
  • One cup of black beans contains 256 micrograms of folate, making them an excellent food for pregnant women.
  • They are a great source of copper which is essential for healthy heart function and promoting healthy skin, hair and nails.

Sound great don’t they?  Try this healthy black bean salad to reap some of the benefits.

15 Minute Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

½ cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups of black beans

1 cup of corn kernels

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

½ cup red pepper, diced

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped

¼ cup chopped coriander

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients together and serve, it’s that simple!

Image via 3.bp.blogspot.com

5 Reasons Coconut Oil Has Officially Gone To The Dogs

It’s one of the most raved about super foods of the year and by now most people are well and truly knowledgeable on the myriad health and wellness benefits of coconut oil; but did you know this wonder oil has significant benefits for your furry friends as well? Long gone are the days when man’s best friend was restricted to a bland diet of dry dog food and canned meat. Now your four-legged pal can reap the multiple wellbeing rewards from virgin coconut oil the same way you do. 

coconut oil, dogs, nutrition, pets, pets health, wellness

Coconut guru and author of new book Going Coconuts, Brynley King, has raised her rambunctious French bulldog, Ernie, on a coconut heavy diet with her family’s Fijian-derived Banaban coconut products and he couldn’t be happier or healthier. Now Brynley is sharing her top five tips for why your pooch should make like Ernie and go coconuts as well:

Improves digestion

Just like humans, regular consumption of coconut oil has noticeably positive impacts on dog digestion, aiding in the healing of digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. Plus, when mixed into meals, the oil helps to up the levels of nutrient absorption in your pup, making it easier for their bodies to absorb the proteins, vitamins and minerals in their food.

Promotes good joint health

Many dogs suffer from arthritis, stiff joints and ligament problems, which have a huge impact on their quality of life. The anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil promote mobility by reducing the painful inflammation associated with arthritis.  Massaging coconut oil into any sore joints will also do a world of good for your dog by increasing circulation and relieving built-up tension.

Relieves skin ailments

Applied externally, virgin coconut oil is a miracle skin and coat treatment, helping to heal everything from rashes to small cuts and everything in between. Similar to how we use the oil as a body moisturiser and hair treatment, try rubbing a decent amount of oil into your dog’s coat, skin and paws to moisturise any rough patches, ward off pesky fleas and give them a smooth, glossy coat with the bonus of reducing doggie odor.

Boosts energy levels and aids weight loss

If your fur-baby has been receiving a little too much love in the food department the good fats in coconut oil work wonders at speeding up the metabolism and balancing the thyroid. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconuts are incredibly easy for dogs (and humans) to digest and are converted into energy at a much faster rate than other oils which are usually stored as fat. This is why Ernie’s homemade meals are always cooked with coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.

Supports good oral health

Just as many people have discovered the benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil, it can also be used as an all-natural toothpaste for dogs. Ernie loves the taste of unrefined coconut oil and will gobble it up straight from the spoon, which is fantastic for keeping his teeth and gums healthy; it also eliminates bad doggie breath, which means no more stinky kisses!

How much?

Start by adding 1/4 teaspoon of oil per 5kg body weight to your dog’s meal and gradually increase to 1 teaspoon per day.  Coconut oil can have a detoxing effect on the body, so if you’re noticing any flu-like symptoms try decreasing the amount. Alternatively, check out Banaban Organic Doggie Crunch – a natural certified organic dog food, high in fibre, iron and trace minerals with all the added health and coat benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil.

To purchase your Banaban Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and Banaban Organic Doggie Crunch, head to www.naturepacific.com.

6 Unhealthy Habits You Didn’t Know You Had

You’re conscious about your health so, of course, you try to avoid obvious bad habits, like pigging out on junk food and being a couch potato. But according to the health and wellness experts from A Season of Change – the free online 12-week body, self image and lifestyle event kicking off on September 1 – some of the habits we think are doing us the most good could actually be hindering us when it comes to achieving our health and wellness goals.

A panel of experts have teamed up to reveal six so-called “healthy habits” that may be leading us astray and share their top tips on how to right those habitual wrongs to get back to track to better health and increased happiness.

1. Reaching for ‘low-fat’ foods: Opting for foods that are labelled low-fat or fat-free in the pursuit of a healthier option is often a misguided attempt at healthy eating, says A Season of Change’s resident nutritionist, Dane Fuller.

“In many cases, these products are loaded with hidden sugars and chemicals, which aside from being unhealthy, are digested much faster, resulting in sugar crashes that leave you reaching for the next snack in no time,” he says. “Nutritious foods will be more satisfying and will keep you fuller for longer.”

2. Thinking that coffee doesn’t count: While there’s no shame in craving a little caffeine to kick-start your day, Fuller explains that too often we don’t think of our liquid calories when tallying up our daily food intake. “Remember that a latte is a cup of milk, so if you’re having two or three a day, with sugar added, those calories count just as much as the ones on your plate, especially if you’re trying to lose weight,” he says.

3. Repetition, repetition, repetition: You’re committed to a weekly exercise regime, which is brilliant, but if you’ve been doing the same routine for months you may not be getting the most out of your efforts, according to personal trainer, competitive athlete and one of A Season of Change’s resident fitness experts, Anna Bramley. 

“Someone who does the same activity all the time is likely to plateau much sooner than someone who varies their workouts. Just as you can get bored by always doing the same exercises, your body can also adapt so that the exercise you’re doing doesn’t offer the same benefits it once did,” she says. “You should be looking to change your routine at least every 4 to 8 weeks to keep your muscles challenged, your body guessing and the results coming!”

4. Relying on willpower: The most common challenge in achieving health and wellness goals is relying solely on your willpower to make positive health choices in your day to day life. If you are easily tempted, don’t make the mistake of relying on willpower alone, instead take steps to make sure you’re prepared, says Fuller. “It’s important to replace willpower with strategy. Set yourself up for success by cleansing your home and personal work space of all temptation foods and replace them with healthier options. Why make it hard for yourself, you’re only human,” he says.

5. Hitting the gym daily: Exercise is vital to good health and vitality but, if you’re not giving your body any time to recover, you could be putting yourself at risk of injury or illness. “Even Olympic athletes have scheduled rest days in their training plans, in order to allow the body time to recuperate,” says A Season of Change’s lifestyle coach and former professional football player Luke Sniewski. 

According to Sniewski, what you do on your rest days will depend on your level of fitness. If you’re just starting out, you may want to take a real rest day, in which you do no activity at all, but if you’re a more seasoned athlete, you could still do some really light activity like gentle cardio or a yoga class.  “Either way, use your rest day to reflect on how far you’ve already come and to be grateful for your body and dedication!”

6. Falling hard for ‘healthy’ foods: When we set about to eat better, even the healthiest options can lead us away from our goals when we overindulge, says Fuller. “Foods like nuts, hummus and protein smoothies are all great options, but just because they are healthy doesn’t discount the need for moderation. Focusing on nutritional value and portion size is the best way to keep healthy foods healthy – eating anything in excess is not going to have the desired benefits.”

To help you spring clean your life and develop healthy habits for good, A Season of Change is a free 12-week online program, designed to help women on their path to better health and happiness.  Participants will receive free weekly digital TV episodes on their mobile device or computer containing expert advice on nutrition, health and fitness as well as self-image and styling.   Registrations are now open and close on August 31.

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