Lifestyle

What’s causing your lack of sleep and 15 ways to improve it

So we use the term “I slept like a baby” to mean we had a good nights sleep…ok so not my babies at the moment that’s for sure! We have gone through about three weeks of disturbed nights, I think due to the 4-month sleep regression and the onset of teething…yay!…but I really started to struggle with the lack of sleep I was getting…so what better time than to do an article all about sleep!?

Sleep is incredibly important as it is a time for your body, particularly your brain, to cleanse and repair. I am sure you notice how much better you feel, not to mention, how much nicer a person you are, after a good kip! I know nearly everything and everyone irritates me and I find myself crying in the shower if I don’t get my sleep…can you relate!?

At least 6-8 hours a night is recommended, as losing sleep ages you and decreases brain plasticity (the ability of your brain to adapt and change by making new neural connections), thereby causing cognitive impairment (difficultly remembering, learning, making decisions, concentrating etc).

Studies have shown that going 17-19 hours without sleep (5-7-hour sleep cycle in 24 hours) is equivalent to an alcohol breathalyser reading of 0.05, which is the legal limit to drive here in Australia!

So many of us, however, struggle to get enough quality sleep each night with the day-to-day stresses, commitments and obligations we must fulfil.

I appreciate, being a new mother of twins, that frequent waking’s in the night may also be unavoidable. As I mentioned, I have certainly experienced a decrease in cognition and heightened emotions these past few months with the birth of my boys.

As hard as it may be to think of yourself in these times, or when work deadlines and commitments are calling you, I truly believe this is THE most important time to take note and give yourself a break. I always say…”you can’t pour from an empty cup”…so make sure to keep topping yours up!

I know I am a better mother and wife, if I give myself 15 minutes for a bath before bed, with some candles and soft music…and my body feels so much better doing the odd few minutes of stretching and twisting of my spine throughout the day, after all the breastfeeding and baby carrying. Heck I even like myself more too!

If you don’t take the odd few minutes where you can, whether you are a busy mother, or a busy person for other reasons, then things just mount up to a point where your body won’t be able to sustain proper function. This could mean you get sick, or you may even experience a mental breakdown or burn yourself out. Should it get to this state, the choice will be taken away from you and you will be forced to rest…plus it will take you even longer to get your health back on track.

Keep pushing your limits and you put yourself at higher risk of Alzheimer’s, some cancers, heart problems, blood pressure issues, blood sugar issues, and stroke.

OK, so I have you convinced you need sleep, but how do you get that sleep and increase its quality!?

Well, most importantly…you cannot go from a stressful day, to being on social media or watching TV, then go to bed and expect your brain to be able to turn off and go to sleep.

If you have kids you know the importance of a bedtime routine, so why should it be any different for you?

I advise my clients to give themselves at least 30 mins to wind down before bed (ideally 60-90 minutes) and to develop a routine that they do each night in this time, so their body “gets programmed” into knowing its bedtime.

For example, my bedtime routine starts with putting on some calming tunes like Reiki Healing or similar, brushing my teeth, dry body brushing, having a shower or Epsom salt bath, self-massage applying my body lotion or doing my galvanic spa, and 5-10 minutes of stretching. Then I am all set to get into bed and do some mindful breathing exercises as I drift off to sleep.

What’s your routine going to be?

Here are my top 15 tips to a better nights sleep that may help you. You will also notice that what happens in your day and your environment, can impact your sleep too…

  1. Ensure you get bright sunlight in your mornings – this helps to set your circadian rhythm in place right from the start of the day (if you are a shift worker make sure you have all the lights on!)
  2. Limit caffeine intake during the day (particularly after about 2pm as it may affect your circadian rhythm by spiking cortisol) – I don’t recommend anymore than 2 coffees a day max – if you are a big coffee drinker and it no longer affects you, then maybe you need to consider weaning yourself off it. Caffeine blocks your adenosine receptors, which help slow neural activity and increase blood vessel dilation, thereby affecting oxygenation of the brain and sleep quality.
  3. Get some exercise – preferably outdoors in nature. Doesn’t have to be much, a 20-30 minute walk is fine, dance around the house whilst vacuuming or brushing your teeth, stretching in front of the TV…whatever floats your boat!…just get moving!
  4. Get a massage – this not only releases physical tensions and stresses but will help support your mental health, immunity and circulation
  5. Avoid bright lights in the evening – I like to use salt lamps for a low, warm light (and decreased fire hazard!)
  6. Avoid stimulating screen time (nothing that makes you want “just one more” episode!)
  7. Set your ipad/phone’s brightness to change automatically in the evening – just a flash of blue light from your phone reduces melatonin by 60%! Better still…make after 8pm a phone/device-free time!
  8. Consider investing in a pair of “blue blocker glasses” that block blue and green wavelengths of light (those from TrueDark or SafetyBlue block both these wavelengths – the “less-stylish” wrap around styles are the best, as these avoid light entering from the sides of the lens)
  9. Drink a calming bedtime tea (valerian, lemon balm, chamomile, passionflower) – if really struggling talk to your Herbologist about trying Kava.
  10. Consider a bed time snack of protein and fat, or carbohydrate and fat (experiment to see what works for you as different metabolisms benefit from different food sources – this could work if blood sugar is your issue – e.g. half green apple and peanut butter, hummus and celery with hemp seeds, chicken leg and avocado, raw cacao avocado mousse and Brazil nuts
  11. Diffuse some lavender and frankincense in your bedroom – I also love doTerra’s Lavender Peace, which helps to reduce anxiety …and Easy Air, which helps respiration and makes you feel calm and clear
  12. Play some 432Hz miracle frequency music whilst you are getting ready for bed
  13. Turn off your Wi-Fi router before bed, and remove all electronics from your room to reduce EMFs
  14. Turn your phone to aeroplane mode before you close your eyes for sleep
  15. Get blackout curtains and ensure there are no lights from clock radios etc in your bedroom – an eye mask can be used if on a budget or travelling

Done all the above and still struggling!? Then don’t waste any more time!

You more than likely know of the mental stress and active mind that may be keeping you up at night, but there are many other reasons why you aren’t getting enough ‘Z’s.

You may be struggling with any number of things, including:

  • Poor gut health leading to low melatonin (sleep hormone) production
  • Physical stress from aches and pains
  • Chemical stress from your environment or from imbalances in the body
  • Inflammation
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Parasites – these often get active in the early hours and release their waste products and toxins causing early waking
  • Mold toxicity
  • Poor neurotransmitter function e.g. low GABA
  • Copper toxicity (more info on this to come in an alternative blog, but if you have been on hormonal birth control at all it is incredibly likely you are copper toxic)
  • Low or bio-unavailable magnesium
  • Slow oxidation state

…all which impact your quality of shut eye.

So! Book in for an obligation free chat with me where I can go through your options and recommend some lab testing for you based on your personal struggles. Let’s investigate what’s happening on a deeper level with you!

We all neeeeeed sleep! …and I want you to get some great restorative sleep so that you can always …feel good from your core!

Stiff and sore?

Are you getting stiffer by the day…decreased range of motion and flexibility?

You likely need some fascial release, or more specifically myofascial release.

Fascia is fibrous connective tissue that forms between muscles and internal organs. Myofascia being that related specifically to muscles.

It’s quite similar to when you peel an orange…there is an outer skin, a fibrous white pith, and the juicy segments each separated by more fibrous tissue. It is this fibrous tissue that is like the fascia between our muscle fibres and the muscles themselves.

Each night when we sleep and the body repairs, new fibres are laid down between our muscles. If too many fibres build up over time this can prevent the glide between the muscles. It may also build up more in some areas than others and so have a distorting pull effect on the muscles.

This also happens if we remain in our poor postural positions, and/or do lots of repetitive movement; our fascia adapts and this becomes the new norm. The same is true if we become injured, hence why you can lose range of motion if you don’t keep working and stretching the site. If left this is when we develop trigger points…those sore spots that when active, refer pain to various regions of your body.

All this decreases our flexibility and range of motion, as well as increases pain and inflammation.

Morning stretch routines can help prevent this, as can frequent foam rolling sessions…if done right! Think slow and steady, stop and hold on any particular tight, sore bits, and take some deep breaths to help release. Better still, book a Remedial Massage with myofascial release.

Start and end your day with some stretches and mobilisations:

Circles with your shoulders,
Bring your shoulders all the way forward then retract them all the way back and repeat,
Turn your head from side to side, lower one ear at a time to the shoulder, look down to the floor and up at the sky,
Do circles with your hips and drop one hip down and then the other and repeat,
Bend forward and touch your toes, stretch out the hamstrings,
Rotate your torso keeping your hips straight,
Sit in a chair and put your foot on the opposite knee and push the elevated knee down then rotate your body to the same side,
Stretch out your pectorals in a doorway,
Do circular motions with your spine clockwise and counter-clockwise,
Some down dogs, and some cat cows.

AND book a regular massage!!! You should be having a massage at least every month! Especially in this modern world where we spend a lot of our time sitting in a similar position day and night.

This will not only help your fascia but will help boost your circulation, immune system, reduce stress and inflammation, and prevent pain and injury.

Book yours today!

 

Image source: http://www.remedybarre.com

Hormones and the Contraceptive Pill

When we have hormone imbalances, often we will get prescribed synthetic hormones to “level us out”

The problem is that by doing this the body thinks there is enough of that hormone and so it stops producing it, thereby causing an increased malfunction, which can lead to long-term negative effects and imbalances.

If we have difficulty metabolising or clearing our hormones effectively, then this effect can be even worse.

Often hormones are prescribed as creams. The doses of which are hard to monitor and much of the hormone actually gets stored in our fat deposits making us more toxic.

Synthetic hormones like those in the contraceptive pill also cause copper toxicity and affect the body’s levels of vitamin and minerals; namely zinc, B vitamins and magnesium. Ironically these nutrients are required to metabolise hormones properly…and so the problem escalates.

Unfortunately, what we are now seeing far too often, and what many of my clients present with, is a whole heap of hormone imbalance symptoms such as fertility issues, heavy, irregular, or painful menstrual cycles, PCOS, endometriosis, acne (and not always when we are just a teenager), indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, vaginal dryness, sore boobies, osteoporosis (brittle bones), hot flashes, night sweats, unexplained weight gain, anxiety, irritability, we might lose our sex drive, suffer from unexplained or excessive sweating, develop excess hair in areas we didn’t expect until our 90’s! Seriously! It’s not fun!

Many of us have been on contraceptive pills since we developed acne in our early teens, even before we were sexually active! They were prescribed as a medication to help clear the skin. We then stayed on them for over 15 years until our early 30’s when we finally found a decent guy, had our careers in place, and were ready to start a family. Then month after month goes by…still not pregnant…

Our bodies are totally out of balance, yet the medical professions answer is often to supply even more synthetic hormones.

When does it stop?

Why aren’t we trying to fix the lack of hormone production in the first place?

Our bodies are designed to keep us functioning at our very best. We have various mechanisms in place to help it do so, and keep it in a state of ease, or balance known as homeostasis. But the body can only work with what it has. If we don’t give it the right ingredients, have a congested liver, dysfunctional gut, and high toxic burden, then it is going to have to compensate somehow.

Some ideas are included below:

  1. Good nutrition:
    • First need a well functioning gut to be able to digest and assimilate the nutrients we eat
    • Eat wholefoods i.e. foods that are in their natural state
    • Eat good fats like cold-pressed organic avocado and extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed organic coconut oil (or expeller-pressed if you dislike the flavour), activated nuts and seeds, and oily wild-caught fish like sardines and red salmon – dietary fats, and cholesterol are in-fact cofactors for making your hormones, so these are incredibly important!
    • Eat quality grass-fed, pasture-raised animal protein
    • Avoid inflammatory foods like processed food, soy, regular dairy, gluten, refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, caffeine
    • Eat lots of veggies – think the rainbow. Best eaten blanched or steamed and with some good fats to better absorb the nutrients.
  1. Adequate rest:
    • 8 hours of undisturbed sleep
    • Bed before 10:30
    • Don’t over exert yourself i.e. listen to your body
  1. The right amount of exercise
    • At least 20-30 minutes daily where you are working hard enough you can’t maintain a conversation
    • Stretching to maintain flexibility and aid circulation
  1. Reducing toxins:
    • Eat organic where possible or wash fruits and veg in apple cider vinegar and water
    • Choose natural personal and cleaning products
    • Eat foods rich in antioxidants (blueberries, raspberries, spinach, kale, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, butternut squash)
  1. Reducing stress:
    • Mental – mindfulness and mediation
    • Physical – regular massage, chiro, physio, get those aches and pains sorted
    • Chemical – (see reducing toxins)

This is a brief overview.

If you need further guidance a great place to start is with my online Feel Good from Your Core Program, which is launching soon. To find out more email bookings@corehealthclinic.com with “Tell me about your program!” in the subject line.

If you want to know for sure what’s going on with your hormones then functional lab testing is a far more advanced method than the regular blood test you may get at your doctor.

Dried urine testing (DUTCH) can show us how you are using and metabolising your hormones, so we can actually see why you are suffering the way you are and develop more targeted treatments.

For more info book your free consultation here.

Cold and Flu? Get my tips and tricks here!

How many people are sick at the moment!? I mean seriously! I was thinking myself so lucky not catching anything…until one morning I woke with the dreaded razor blade throat! Even the healthiest of us can get sick on occasion but the difference is…we recover so much quicker!

My daily nutrition includes lots of immune boosting nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods with lots of veggies, no dairy (accept now I am pregnant…I have goat milk yogurt on occasion to help boost my calcium and probiotics), limited gluten (spelt sourdough on the weekends or sprouted grain bread), no refined sugar…

…oh on that point get this juicy finding…

Consuming 8 tablespoons of sugar (equivalent to one 12-ounce can of soda) can reduce the ability of your white blood cells to destroy invading pathogens by 40%, according to the Environmental Law Centre of the United Kingdom. The immune-suppressing effect may begin within 30 minutes of ingestion and last for up to 5 hours! I always say refined sugar is the devil!

…and immune boosting supplements like natural forms of Vitamin C (e.g. camu camu), reishi, broccoli sprouts, glycine, DHA, zinc, and a medicinal mushroom blend, to help support my body.

However! As I said even the healthiest of us can get sick…often when we are pushing ourselves a little too hard, and when we aren’t getting enough sleep (which was what I was doing!). We are then forced to rest. I love how the body has ways of making you do what is needed…hopefully you listen and heal well!

So…what is it I do when I get sick…Sudafed, Strepsils, and cough syrup? HELL NO!!! As soon as I feel something coming on I gargle the colloidal silver (1 tbsp morning and night) and swallow…

Before antibiotics, silver was used in medicine, recognised for it’s antimicrobial properties. Silver can be toxic if used regularly however, so I don’t recommend this be your regular go to if you are someone that gets sick often (I would be recommending you get your diet and gut checked out, which I can help you with if interested in knowing more). Wellness Mama has a great blog about silver that you can read here.

…I get on the olive leaf extract…tastes fowl as a liquid medicine (better absorbable form if you can handle it…and great for a sore throat gargle…but I sometimes wimp out and opt for the capsules!)

Research suggests that olive leaf extract may reduce the infectivity and inhibit the replication of viruses that cause colds, influenza and lower respiratory tract infections. It has also been shown to stimulate phagocytosis, which may enhance the body’s response to a viral infection.

…I make a conscious effort to get out in the sun for my vitamin D…granted if you aren’t in the Queensland climate this may not be an option when you get sick, so consider a Vitamin D3 supplement instead! This should be part of your daily support so if sunlight is a rarity for you (even those in hot climates that cover themselves in sunblock or clothes, or hide indoors in the aircon) be aware you may be low in vitamin D. A rough guide is 20 minutes in the sun daily, but this is dependent on your location, time of day, skin tones etc so it obviously is very variable. I haven’t used it but there is an app to help determine how much you may need here. If you give it a try be sure to comment your findings!

Vitamin D is a key factor linking innate and adaptive immunity.

Fire Cider!…this is packed full of nature’s antimicrobials including apple cider vinegar, ginger and turmeric roots, garlic, horse radish, chilli, herbs, lemon, and sometime kombucha and sauerkraut juice. Shot it or drink as a warm tea with a little manuka honey. You can find recipes online or buy ready made from various sources. I love Buchi Fire Cider!

…and finally my doTERRA essential oils! I make a roller bottle blend mixing fractionated coconut oil OnGuard, Melaleuca, Clove, Oregano, Basil, Coriander, Lemon, and Frankincense and roll it on me throughout the day. At bed time I place a drop of each on my feet and rub my feet together (no hands). AI also diffuse some Easy Air and/or OnGuard to help keep my sinuses open through the day and night. If you want setting up with an account to buy these beautiful oils, or if you are local to me on the Sunshine Coast, Australia, and would like a free oil party then let me know!

And voila! I was down for one day then back to feeling good from my core!

I would love to hear your tips and recommendations…I know onion and garlic wrapped around the feet at night is supposed to be a goodie, anyone tried!?

Copper and Zinc Balance – depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, PMS, immune deficiency and more

When looking at prenatal supplements recently and during discussions with my peers I learned more of the importance for copper and zinc balance. Please keep reading…this isn’t just associated with pregnancy!

Copper is an essential trace element required for proper organ function and numerous metabolic processes. Zinc is important for immune support and it plays a role in cell division and cell growth, so is very important for proper growth and development, as well as wound healing, and the breakdown of carbohydrates. Copper and zinc compete for the same absorption sites, hence can impact the absorption of each other. The ideal ratio being somewhere between 8:1 and 12:1 zinc to copper. The tolerable upper intake level (TUL) for zinc is 40 mg for adult women and men. The TUL for copper is 10,000 ug/day for adults.

Copper and zinc are also associated with taste and smell and so can impact appetite. Excess copper can cause people to skip meals and crave more spicy, sugary, or salty food to stimulate their taste more.

This is where my interest first peaked having suffered with Anorexia nervosa. You can see how a copper/zinc imbalance can be potentially lethal for people with eating disorders as it can lead to further food deprivation, and increased imbalances and deficiencies.

Copper excess also increases the risk of yeast and viral infections (some of which contribute to chronic fatigue), immune deficiency, abdominal pains, headaches, prolonged and heavy menstrual cycles (which zinc supplementation may reduce), depression, and postpartum depression.

This is where my interest peaked a second time! Having suffered with depression, anxiety, and anorexia, I am classed as being more likely to develop postnatal depression. After attending my first Mindful Mum’s class at the hospital, one mother had been diagnosed with postnatal depression after her first baby and is now suffering with it again during her second pregnancy…I wanted to find out more to see if I could help her, and also prevent this happening to myself!

During pregnancy we often become much more diligent with our diet and supplementation to ensure we are getting the right nutritional support, well I certainly have anyway, and like many, I take a natal supplement to support the growth of my babies. Like most multi vitamin supplements, it of course contained copper. Now copper is highly prevalent in people’s diets. Our water pipes are commonly made of copper so we get a dose in our drinking water, and it occurs in many foods including almonds, avocado, beans, broccoli, buckwheat, chocolate, lamb, mushrooms, pork, prunes, sunflower seeds, legumes, liver, quinoa, asparagus, kale, chia seeds, goat cheese, and wholegrain cereals…many foods we consume as pregnant ladies and even as healthy women in general!

Zinc on the other hand…well I read at http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au that 85% of Australian females are deficient in zinc. I can’t find a research paper to confirm this, but it doesn’t surprise me if true. As an FDN Practitioner, we may recommend clients supplement with zinc to support their immune system as this is also impacted by gut health; a foundational area that we address in healing. Some foods containing zinc include beef, capsicum, egg yolks, herrings, liver, milk, oysters, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, seafood, and yeast. Whilst we may consume most of these foods, I think it’s quite clear that copper/zinc imbalances could easily be very common.

Some other disorders associated with copper excess include hypotension, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, PMS, paranoid and hallucinatory schizophrenias, calcium accumulation around joints causing stiffness, premature aging, irritability, fatigue, amenorrhoea, pyroluria, miscarriage, metallic taste, liver and kidney failure, tachycardia, dyslexia, green stool, dizziness, childhood hyperactivity, and autism. Any mild abnormality or impairment of liver function can lead to copper excess.

Note: legumes and wholegrains contain phytates that prevent zinc absorption so ensure you soak, heat, sprout, or ferment them sufficiently before eating.

We must, however, remember that adequate copper levels are essential for the growth of new blood vessels, wound healing, and recovering from heart attacks and strokes, so please don’t think it’s the enemy! If we supplement excessively with zinc we may suffer copper deficiency increasing our risk of cardiovascular dysfunction,

This blog is to purely make you aware that this imbalance can exist, and you may want to investigate this more if you have a history with depression, an eating disorder, fatigue, or immune issues. Zinc deficiency testing is a good start; you can get a simple test at your chemist to give you a rough idea if this may be present. If you know you are zinc deficient, or you have pyroluria/pyrrole disorder (an inability to properly absorb B6, magnesium and zinc), then you may want to investigate further with a HTMA (Hair, Tissue, Mineral Analysis) test, which I can run for you.

If you are suffering with postnatal depression, depression in general, lack of appetite, fatigue or any other malady, then please don’t hesitate to schedule a free 20-minute consultation to see how I may be able to help you on your journey back to feeling good from your core!

Facing Fear

I recently got asked what I considered my biggest achievement in life was so far.

I have contemplated the answer to this previously when the same question was asked in job applications, and my response is generally, completing my PhD.

Four years committed to a question, discovering all you can about a subject, finding ways to investigate and explore answers, and come to various conclusions. Of course, this is an amazing achievement and one of which I most certainly am proud…but is it my biggest achievement? Is this the main thing that defines who I am. I finished my PhD over six years ago, surely I have progressed since then?

I then considered my life so far, particularly the big changes I have made recently with taking the leap to leave full-time work and follow my dream of owning a successful thriving business, relocating my home to a place I love near the ocean that has transfixed my awe for a lifetime, and more importantly the journey that got me here.

Some of you may have read my alternative blog and will know that I suffered with an evil voice inside me called, The Anorexia, which subsequently manifested itself in various ways over the years including excessive exercising, orthorexia, incredible self-loathing, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks to name a few.

To keep a long story short, finally one day I woke up and began to turn my life around.

I saw that fears dominated my life when I was sick. Fear of getting fat, fear of what people thought of me, fear of what I looked like, fear of how I was perceived, fear of meeting new people, fear of new places, fear of going into a place on my own. I even feared the phone ringing and would walk out of the room because I didn’t have the nerve to answer it, nor could I pluck up the courage to call up the local curry house and order a meal!

At the start of high school, I had to sit an entrance exam to see if I was eligible to go to one of the best school’s in my area. Oh, my goodness what a scene I caused! Bawling my eyes out in the carpark, petrified to go inside to sit the exam. My poor parents’ distraught thinking of what they were putting me through but knowing what opportunities would be offered to me if I could go there. One of the school’s teachers even came out to try and coax me in, eventually introducing me to two of the popular girls hoping to ease my panic. How embarrassing!!! I wanted to do it, but this tremendous fear turned me into a complete nervous wailing wreck!

This was probably my biggest fear of all…the fear of failure. If I didn’t try, I couldn’t fail. How many of you can relate to this fear? I think it’s likely the one that prevents most of us from progressing and making great leaps in our life.

I did get into that school in the end and those girls, I will never forget. I thought they must think I was pathetic, but these girls aren’t like that. I truly believe they saw my pain, did not judge me, and instead tried to help the best they could. For that, I am forever grateful.

Upon leaving school and going to university new challenges would face me, I had to live away from home, go to a university where I knew nobody, eat food at a canteen where I had less control of what I ate…but ultimately, I was going to study a subject of which I was really passionate about and excited, Marine Biology and Oceanography.

I think this is when I started to realise how my fears were holding me back, what I was missing out on. I didn’t want to live my life feeling this way, being too scared to go to new places, too scared to meet new people, too scared to try new things. And so I started to push myself, to face my fears, to purposely put myself into fearful situations to prove to myself I would still be alive at the end of it, everything would be ok!

I wanted to work with sharks and got an opportunity to volunteer in South Africa with the White Shark Trust. How scary to do a 12-hour flight to Africa on my own, meet people I had never spoken to before and live with them in this place for five weeks! But how exciting too! Whilst there we went on a day trip and visited the highest commercial natural bungee jump in the world, Bloukrans Bridge, Western Cape. Standing 216m high and jumping off a bridge is something I never wanted to do, but I would never be here again! I would regret not doing it surely! So I jumped! Well, I bent my knees as far as I could so I was as close to the ground as possible before I sort of managed to fight my impulse and fall over the edge! Haha! Best thing is I never have to feel the need to push myself to bungee again as I have done the world’s biggest now! Boom!

I wanted to continue working with sharks so had to put myself out there. I contacted shark researchers all over the world asking if I may do my MSc research project with them. I ended up working in Italy, a country where I couldn’t even converse with anyone, for two months. I actually think that was one of the hardest times of my life, extremely isolating, but an incredible amount of time for self-reflection, and I learned an enormous amount about myself there.

After uni I tried to decide what work to do, aquaculture, oceanography…I tried a few but nothing was eventuating. I remember speaking to dad about what career I could possibly do, and he said to forget the money and typical career titles; what did I want to do if I had the choice to pick absolutely anything in the world, and what did I want my life to be. My answer was to work with sharks, live by the water, be outdoors, in the sunshine, swim in the ocean, walk on the beach, be free.

I will be forever grateful to my dad for this. I am incredibly fortunate to have parents that back me in anything I want to do and try to open any doors they possibly can to make my dreams come true. They taught me to believe anything is possible, something I think so few of us are privilege to nowadays, but something that is completely and absolutely true!

If Turia Pitt can receive burns to 60% of her body, be unable to walk due to the sheer pain of her skin screaming at her…when simply being able to stand up out of bed was her best achievement for the day, yet she can then go on to complete an ultramarathon!

If Sylvester Stallone can overcome facial paralysis, and slurred speech to become one of the most successful and iconic actors….Michael Jordon can overcome being cut from his varsity basketball team in his sophomore year to become considered by many the greatest basketball player of all time…and if Steven Hawking’s determination can prevent his motor neuron disease from affecting his completion of his PhD and allow him to go on and become one of the most respected physicists, cosmologists, and authors…then truly any of us is capable of anything…as long as we want it bad enough!

Well, I wanted more sharks, and I always dreamed of Australia. THE best place for sharks! There are around 400 species of shark worldwide, and almost half of them can be found in Australia! I contacted university research labs again asking to volunteer in their labs in the hope I could gain an entry and be considered for a PhD there. That’s what brought me to Brisbane. I volunteered at The University of Queensland with the now Dr Simon J Pierce when he was completing his PhD. This introduced me to the beautiful Point Lookout at Stradbroke Island, one of my most favourite places on earth! Check out Simon’s amazing work and photography at his website and Instagram pages (he took the hammerhead shot used for this blog!). It is this opportunity that allowed me to develop connections with other researchers and ultimately get offered a position to complete my PhD there.

Whilst in Australia, what better temp work to pay the bills but a receptionist role! Face my fear of answering the phone and speaking to people I didn’t know, day in day out!

I have since gone on to face fears presenting in public, giving talks at conferences, doing video recordings, joining networking groups to meet new people, presenting in gyms, hosting expo stalls, participating in team building and bonding events (something I totally loathed being incredibly introverted), all of which I completely and utterly hated doing at the time, but now truly enjoy and see how much I gained and continue to gain from such experiences.

I still somewhat fear what people think of me but I realise there will always be some people that won’t like or resonate with me…and I probably won’t like them either! …I am OK with this now. All I am trying to do is help people, even if that’s just one person’s life that I can make a difference to, that’s what matters.

So what is my biggest achievement so far in life, my ability to acknowledge and face my fears.

This has allowed me to live a life where I can follow my dreams, have big goals, and give things a go.

Don’t become a victim of your circumstances and be a prisoner of fear.

Fear of money, fear you won’t get that job, fear you won’t get that guy/girl, fear you will look stupid, fear that venture might not work out. One of the biggest regrets that people have on their death bed is that they didn’t take that risk, that leap of faith to do more, to change.

You are in control of how you think and feel about things. Before you react the next time, you fear something ask yourself – “What is the worst that could happen?”, then ask yourself what you would do if that happened, and again what you would do if that next thing happened. I guarantee you will always find a way where things are fine. Yes, you might need to change tack but more often than not that’s what leads you on a better path anyway.

Use fear as a positive, use fear to drive you to grow. Change that voice to be the positive voice in your head – “I’m a bad ass!”, “I so got this!” Live the hashtag #JFDI !!!

The response our body gives in fear is the same as that when we are really excited. Maybe just a mindset shift to I say you are excited instead of afraid is enough to kick start you in a new direction!

Most importantly don’t be afraid to fail. It’s where we grow. Be grateful for your failures, they are what make you who you are. You failed at walking when you were born, but that didn’t stop you from learning how to.

My failures no longer justify my crappy self-worth, they are instead ways that allow me to change, grow, and develop myself into a better person.

Do you want something holding you back controlling your every move, a voice in your head questioning everything you do, always justifying why you shouldn’t do things? How many things have you missed out on because of it, how many more will you miss out on if you don’t address it? Think of who you could be without it, think of how you could feel without it, what would it allow you to do and become!

If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you.

Fear is defined as – a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms, which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behavior, such as fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events.

Note the key word here…”perceived”. It is not REAL!

So my challenge for you is this. Take a look at your life and discover what haven’t you been giving yourself credit for that has changed your life for the better? And more importantly, what fears could you face that would allow you to truly live your best life?

I want to leave you now with two quotes that I just love in the hope they inspire you! Please comment below and share your story, you will inspire others to face their fears too!

 

 

 

You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside. – Wayne Dyer

 

Why not see how much you can learn? Why not see how far you can go? Why not you? Why not now? – Jim Rohn

My Story With Anorexia

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week finishes today. Its theme this year is Let’s Get Real and the goal is to expand the conversation and highlight stories we don’t often hear. So I thought I would share mine.

From about 16 years old to my first year of uni, around 21 years old, I suffered with my inner demon. I call her ‘The Anorexia’. She is now under control but will raise her head from time to time to put me down, make me feel ugly inside and out, and make me hate my body and feel overweight. Fortunately, my body is now healthy enough that my brain can function properly, and I can think more rationally, knowing there is little truth in these thoughts. I won’t lie…she has never left me and at low points in my life, she finds ways to manifest her self-sabotaging ways in more areas than my diet and exercise habits.

It started with me feeling I was ugly, I was a horrible person, I had average intelligence…I was depressed, I was lonely, I was fat…I knew I wasn’t really ‘fat’…I hated my thighs mainly. I had done dancing and horse riding so developed quite an inner thigh muscle, but I wanted a straight line! No way that will ever happen I realise now, but I wanted it gone and saw it as fat. I wouldn’t have my photo taken as I hated the way I looked. That’s why I couldn’t put a ‘before’ photo with this post. My parents did take a Polaroid picture of me in my bikini to try and show me how my bones protruded and how skinny I was, but I just couldn’t see it. We can’t find that picture now…I no doubt found a way to destroy it.

Not eating made me feel empty, which I found addictive. I guess it made me feel in control…even though I was anything but ‘in control’. I got down to 6 stone which is about 38kg, this was the limit that I kept myself at, as if I dropped any lower I would be admitted to hospital. I survived off 2 Weetabix with milk, and an orange a day. I ate my lunch but would go to the bathroom at school and throw up anything I ate, and I made sure I had a shower after dinner at home so I could throw that up, disguising the noise with the falling water. I wore big jumpers and baggy trousers to hide my body so people didn’t see how thin I was, and it looked like I was eating normally so nobody questioned me. The Anorexia makes you become very deceitful and conniving.

My calves then began to waste away and my boney legs became obvious in my school uniform. I remember my dad saying my legs looked like Minnie Mouse with my big black shoes and string with knots in for knees. That’s when people started to realise what was happening. I remember people writing messages in my school leaving book, to please put on weight. I got to a point where I didn’t even want to be anymore. I would close my eyes when driving, letting fate take over. Fortunately what was left of the real me eventually forced me to open my eyes and stay on the road. About this time, I came home from school one day and a close family member that I loved dearly, who was also a nurse, was at home. My mum and dad asked me to please talk to her. She told me how distraught my mum was, and this is when I think I realised that it wasn’t all about me. Other people did love me, and I was making them suffer. That’s when I started to open up a little and when the ‘help’ and doctors were contacted.

I remember numerous hours spent discussing my thoughts and actions with psychologists, with and without my parents present. I had no respect or trust in their words as they were often grey-faced people that were overweight – I was so judgemental I thought ‘what the hell do you know”, “no way in hell do I want to ‘get better’ if it means looking like you!” I had to take special meal replacement drinks, which I kind of liked, not because they tasted good, but because I saw them as a kind of label. I think I liked being sick, being the victim, worthless me, this is what I deserved…poor me! I loved when people told me I was too thin. I think I even believed they were jealous of me!

I remember discussing with the psychologists about my want to please my father, that I felt I never really achieved anything that wasn’t just expected of me, I didn’t feel my father gave me the praise I wanted etc. I felt like the psychologists were formulating questions, in a way that my answers convicted my parents.  This started to cause tension in our family, my mother and father now feeling to blame and depressed that it was their fault somehow. But this wasn’t true, I knew my parents loved me and were proud of me, I knew my dad had difficulty showing it at times, but I knew deep down he was immensely proud of my achievements, he supported my dreams and did his best to make them happen…I knew it wasn’t his ‘fault’. To see my parents suffer, particularly the pain it was causing my mum, is what made me change. The thing that made me want to get better. Not for me, but for her.

I don’t know why I was depressed and loved to starve myself. I had loving, supportive parents, pretty good friends and family. Anorexia didn’t run in the family. I consider it probably just happened at that time of life when we are entering puberty, our brain neurology, body, hormone levels and emotions/moods etc are all changing, we are participating in numerous exams that we feel determine our futures, and we are trying to decide what we want to do as a career for the rest of our lives, plus all the other pressures we experience as a teenager leaving school. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol, I chose to starve myself.

I did start to get better and put on weight but would control everything that went into my meals. That control wanned a little but I think evolved into orthorexia when I became vegan for a year and started to learn about nutrition more and omit numerous food items from my diet. It also evolved into over exercise where I would do two hours of hard cardio daily. I caused so much stress on my body I couldn’t sleep at night. I contracted a parasite in my gut that caused me to bloat and have severe abdominal pain…oh, my gosh the feelings of being fat and that mental battle began again. I don’t know what true damage I did to my body over those years…some things are starting to manifest that I think I caused back then, but hopefully, with my broad knowledge of holistic health practices and physiology, I will be able to heal myself from those also.

And now…I won’t lie…there’s still times when I am too hard on myself. I am a still a perfectionist, my worst critic, I like to be in control of things, I hate my body one day and love it the next. But I do have a much better more comprehensive understanding of nutrition and wellness. I appreciate fat and understand how important it is in our diet, I enjoy food and love cooking for my friends and family (even if I do make sure they are all healthy ingredients!)…I still make that caramel slice but with coconut cream and raw chocolate! I like to have muscle tone and a strong body, my exercise focusing now on morning walks and yoga. I also learned to stop The Anorexia voice from taking over, I learned meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, Reiki. I have found my good balance and I am back in control of my life. I now use my analytical and critical mind in positive ways and love to share my knowledge and experiences with people to help them with their own life battles, to defeat them and find their core selves again.

Anorexia is different for each of us but it is rarely about food and simply the thought of being fat. It is so much more. Sufferers need to learn ways to manage The Anorexia and keep her suppressed, letting their true selves dominate. Sharing information, sharing your darkest thoughts, getting them in the open, is what shuts The Anorexia down, what takes her power away from her. Don’t shut yourself off and let her dominate you. You are worthy, you are loved, you are so much more than her…

Morning Ritual

I highly recommend having your own morning ritual for sooooo many reasons! These all essentially lead to a happier, more content you. Please give yourself at least 10-15 minutes or so in the morning for ‘you’ time to just sit and be before you embark on the day’s activities. At least just give it a try, you will be surprised how much it improves your day! Please at the very least do steps 2 and 3, if the other steps don’t work for you then feel free to change them so that they do. It would be great to share how you go and how you adapt the ritual for you in our Facebook Group!

  1. On waking think about at least 3 things that make you smile and say thank you. Gratitude is powerful and a great way to start the day in a good mood! These can be as simple as having two legs to get out of bed with, or even just having a bed to sleep in…think about everything and anything!
  2. Wash your mouth out with water and scrape tongue before you consume anything to remove the toxins that accumulate there overnight. Then look in the mirror and say the words “I love you” or some other positive affirmation for yourself…I like “I can, I will, watch me”, or “Today all the doors are open to me”.
  3. Sip a 1 litre filtered, room-temperature or slightly warmed water in the first hour of waking. Optional: add juice of ½ lemon and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to cleanse your system, ready your stomach acid for breakfast and hydrate you…ensure you rinse your mouth straight after drinking to avoid acid erosion of your teeth (can replace with herbal tea or bone broth).
  4. Dry body brush for 2 minutes (I do this whilst brushing my teeth!), this is great to stimulate circulation as well as the lymphatic system and helps to get rid of dead skin cells and detox.
  5. Do at least 5-10 minutes of stretching and twisting daily (I try and do 20-30 minutes in the morning and find this sets me up well for the day, occasionally I will stretch at night also, especially if I have been to the gym). Especially think about mobilizing the spine and opening the hips. This is great not only for your mind but for circulation, posture, and emotions. It is good to mindful of your posture throughout the day also and periodically circle and stretch your neck and shoulders for a minute or two during your activities. A video download of the movements I like to do each morning is included with our Kick Start Program.
  6. Do at least 5-10 minutes of meditation/mindfulness. The benefits of just taking a few minutes for yourself in the morning really are limitless. If you can’t do this until you are out the house and at work (and have to sit in a toilet cubicle to avoid people!) then that’s fine too, but I really encourage you to try and fit this in, no matter how little time you meditate for, every second counts! If you can do more, then great! If you can do in the evening or at lunch too, then perfect. Sometimes I like to play a recording I made of my affirmations. An MP3 download of these affirmations is included with our Kick Start Program.
  7. Eat a breakfast high in protein, fat and fibre. Try eggs and sautéed veggies and spices in coconut oil with avocado, or coconut yogurt with a selection of toasted nuts and seeds and some berries. Make sure you also include some carbs if you train in the morning.

Guidelines to Losing Weight and Staying Healthy

Determine the weight you want to be, keeping in mind your body type, what weight you feel good at, the weight that gives you the most energy, and makes you feel the most comfortable; what weight were you when you achieved peak performance. Make sure your goals are realistic and ensure you have adequate time to achieve your goals.

Aim to lose around 0.5 kg per week; to ensure you stay on track, set up a well-planned timeline. Ensure you give yourself adequate time to adjust and train prior to your predetermined goal date to avoid added physical and emotional stresses to reach your goal, which can hinder your health and performance.

Consider including smart cardio training into your routine to burn more calories. HIIT training can be a perfect addition, particularly if you are short on time (a quick 5-10 minutes at the end of a resistance training session 2-3 times a week can have profound effects). Seek advice from a medical professional if your diet and exercise regime are changing considerably.

Maintain a daily food diary to ensure all calories and macronutrients can be tracked and adjusted according to your progress. Consult a nutritionist/sports scientist for dietary advice to ensure you are getting a complete and balance diet.

Ensure you are consuming a calorie deficit (less calories in than out) but DO NOT consume fewer than 1200-1500 calories per day without professional advice.

DO NOT omit meals as a way to decrease calories as this can adversely affect your metabolism and lead to later health conditions.

Avoid alcohol and sugary foods including processed and fried items as these are empty calories and can affect your insulin levels leading to fat storage and nutrient deficiencies.

Focus on wholefoods that are nutrient and antioxidant dense to help nourish your body, aid muscle growth and tissue repair; think about consuming a great variety of colour and include turmeric, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh chilli and other spices to flavour foods. These particular spices are also good for blood sugar regulation and to boost metabolism.

Make sure you have variety in your food choices to avoid getting bored. Very important for compliance!

Include a good amount of healthy fats from avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, Inca inchi oil, wild caught salmon and sardines to ensure your nervous and endocrine system function well and that your hormone balance, focus and brain health are maintained.

Maintain good hydration with filtered and mineralised water (minimum of 1ml per calorie intake). Consider natural isotonic drinks particularly when you train, such as coconut water and juiced watermelon.

Have a time where you can set aside meal planning and prep to ensure you have your daily dietary needs set out and aren’t tempted to stray from your plan and add foods that may hinder your progress.

Note down times that you find eating well and staying on track difficult. Awareness is key and finding a way to distract yourself and overcome these times begins when you acknowledge when they are and remind yourself of your goals.

Eat meals slowly, chew your food well and sit down to eat. This will help your digestion and your mind!

Consider this as a lifestyle change and not a ‘diet’ that will be over soon. The focus is to find the right intake for you to provide adequate calories and nutrition for your lifestyle and training load. It is not a period of starvation and misery!

Detox Your Life

Toxins are around us every day. It’s impossible to avoid them all, but we can make sure we aren’t adding to our toxic load by making smarter life choices and purchases. A recent study found that the average woman uses an average of 168 chemicals before even leaving the house in the morning! Men use an average of 68. Most of these morning toxins come from our personal care products. What’s also scary is these chemical toxins added to our every day products are not regulated by any governing body. Remember the Johnson & Johnson saga where a lady died from ovarian cancer, which was linked to her use of their baby powder? According to the case, Johnson & Johnson knew about the cancer link but failed to warn customers.

Toxins impact our hormones and can result in imbalances, which can lead to decreased fertility, skin disorders, metabolic imbalances and weight gain. They also alter fat metabolism and retention leading to weight gain, and can disrupt our energy production leaving us fatigued and suffering with brain fog, headaches, nausea and migraines. We simply cannot put our trust in these production companies and must instead opt to purchase safer alternatives.

Below I have given some guidelines that you might like to implement into your life to reduce your toxic burden. I also have a video coming out soon on ‘Detoxing – Do we really need to?’ so make sure you sign up to the newsletter to get notified when it’s released!

Detox your life today…

…with food

Start your day with a warm lemon water and apple cider vinegar drink (I like to use the juice of half a lemon and 1 tablespoon ACV in 100ml water)

Drink at least 2-3 litres of filtered water daily (I use an ALPs water filter and Prill Beads – I love that they have a glass tank now too! Another great brand is Zazen)

Buy organic where possible

Soak/wash fruits/vegetables in water and vinegar to remove pesticide residues

Eat lots of green leafy vegetables

Eat clean! Avoid processed foods, food additives and preservatives, refined sugars, fried food, bleached flours, sodas, alcohol (opt for red wine over other alcohol)

Limit caffeine consumption to 2 cups tea/2 shots of coffee maximum a day (or choose decaf versions) and consider replacing with herbal teas (particularly green, dandelion, burdock, and milk thistle) – the safe amount appears to be 300-400 mg daily but I personally opt on the lower side of this

Eat less meat and dairy – choose organic 100% grass-fed pasture-raised varieties and have at least two animal produce free days a week

Include coriander, malic acid (in grapes and wine), citric acid (in citrus fruits), succinic acid (in apples and blueberries), citrus pectin (in peel and pulp of citrus fruits) and Chlorella in your diet regularly – all exhibit natural chelating properties useful for the elimination of toxic metals

Eat foods rich in antioxidants (blueberries, raspberries, spinach, kale, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, butternut squash)

Eat superfoods rich in omega 3 (salmon, sardines, avocado, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, flaxseed)

Eat wholefoods i.e. foods that are in their natural state

Include foods high in natural fibre in your diet

Eat fermented foods and probiotics to help your digestive system

Swap some meals for a smoothie or soup/stew to help give your digestive system an easier job from time to time

…in the home

Use stainless steel cookware

Use stainless steel or glass food/drink containers, also avoid vegetables in plastic containers and bags and try instead to buy loose produce and place in paper or reusable fabric produce bags – recycling your glass jars is perfect for this! I also love storing my veggies in theswag.com.au bags making them last longer

Reheat food in a pan not the microwave – jury is out here as to nutrient content effect but you are definitely irradiating your food…I choose not to if I can help it…

Use natural household cleaners and laundry detergents (avoid phthalates often found in softeners) – some great brands include EcoStore, Adobe, Little Innoscents, Ecologic, Soapberries, Kin Kin, Earth Choice – better still clean with microfibre cloths and water (we love Norwex)

Use essential oils to scent your home instead of synthetic sprays – book a dōTERRA party with us and we can introduce you to heaps of choices!

…with you!

Only take vital medications; don’t just take a quick paracetamol, ibuprofen, antacid, cold and flu tablet … try natural alternatives

Take some liver and gut support like milk thistle and slippery elm or L-glutamine

Use natural makeup – we love Inika, EcoMinerals, Eve Perez, 100% Pure, Lavera

Use natural cosmetics and personal care – we love The Hemp Lady, Sukin, La Bang Body, Dr. Bronner’s, Acure, Weleda

Choose a natural toothpaste – we love dōTERRA On Guard toothpaste, Magic Mud, Miessense

Use organic sanitary products or menstrual cups – we love Juju cups, TOM Organics

Use a natural sunscreen – we love invisible zinc, DeVita Solar Protective Moisturiser, Keeki Pure and Simple

Use natural deodorant or jump online and make your own! – we love Primal Pit Paste, No Pong

Wear perfumes sparingly, only on occasion and spray your clothes not your skin – great alternatives are essential oils however so book that dōTERRA party with us!

Use natural baby products – we love Edible Bubba, Zoe Organics, Kelapa Baby, Meow Meow Tweet, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Sanctum – use Redmond clay or bentonite clay in place of baby powder, and Tick Tock or dōTERRA Terra Shield for insect repellent

Exercise at least 30 minutes each day to raise your heart rate and produce sweat

Have regular massage (every 2-5 weeks depending on your activity level and pain) to keep your muscles and fascia moving well, prevent tension and injury, improve circulation and immunity, and help relaxation

Don’t smoke

Include a weekly Epsom salt bath (I also like to add bentonite clay, bicarbonate and lemon/peppermint/rosemary essential oils) and soak for at least 20-30 minutes with some candles and soft music to de-stress. Maintain hydration whilst in the bath. If you don’t have a bath then do a foot spa!

Try dry body brushing or silicone cupping self-massage to stimulate the lymphatic system

Have a five minute hot shower followed with periods of cold water for a bit of hydrotherapy, and/or consider regular saunas (particularly infrared saunas that get deep into our tissues)

Use natural products on your skin e.g. shea butter or coconut oil moisturisers, aluminium-free deodorant (I love Primal Pit Paste and No Pong), natural shampoos and conditioners

Brush your teeth and tongue on waking and before bed and don’t forget to floss! I love using a water flosser and find I am more likely to floss because I actually enjoy using this!

Get 7-8 hours sleep a night

Breathe deeply and consider meditation and yoga

Keep a clean organised home. Make your bed each morning, it is a small task but it sets you up for a day of achieving!

Most importantly, take care of yourself and have some YOU time!