How to Make a Resolution Stick Without Stress – The Five Stages of Change exercise food health mindful nutrition self care stress sugar wellness yoga Dec 16, 2021

We are always going through phases of change, whether we notice them as substantial or not. This January one can often seem like the motherload though, with high expectations and suggestions coming at us from all angles.... whether it's giving up something, doing something else or fixing that thing that is 'wrong' with us, there is a sense of this ideal, other self that we should be.

There is a phrase doing the rounds at the moment that is particularly pushing my buttons; "be the best (or better) version of yourself" - eh? What on earth does that mean? To me, there is an implication that if all the boxes are not ticked, I am simply not good enough. I guess it's the word version I react to there - we have so many facets to our beings that to judge some as good and others not so much adds in to our cultural norm of self-criticism.

I do believe in constant awareness of which unmet needs I am playing out for sure, but have learnt that I need to be mindful of looking at the unconscious...

Continue Reading...
A Calm and Conscious Christmas for a Happy New Year digestion energy food health nutrition self care sugar wellness winter Dec 16, 2021

"With Christmas comes the onslaught of brightly coloured wrappers and decorated boxes adorning chocolates, biscuits and sweets. For some, this represents dietary abandon with the resolution to bring it all round in the New Year.

But some of us have had enough of that swing and prefer not to feel like we’re lurching from a sugared-up state that leaves us feeling sluggish, bloated and, well, a bit dirty, to somehow suddenly having the willpower to give it all up come Hogmanay. So let’s unpick some of those Christmas habits in order to maybe evolve some healthier ones...

While original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the third round of mince pies of the day, you can receive sideway glances that make you feel like you’re Scrooge.

Personally, a few...

Continue Reading...
Can You Create a New Relationship with the Christmas Sugar Onslaught? digestion energy exercise food health nutrition self care sugar wellness winter Dec 13, 2021

Whilst original yuletide feasts were designed to celebrate coming together as communities to nourish and fuel for the coming deep winter months, human’s love of the sweet stuff seems to get a free pass at Christmas. It can even seem conspiratorial when, if you politely decline the stollen cake, you can receive a sideways glance that makes you feel like you’re Scrooge.

Personally, a few years back I reached the limit of feeling like c*&p after each Christmas Day finally arrived – sluggish, head-achy, tetchy and with raging sugar cravings – and longing for when all the so-called ‘Christmas food’ was finally gone. I have a tendency to want to hoover up sugar just to get it out of the way, so this can seem endless with so much around!

For those of us with sugar-addictive tendencies, constantly having it around can be a major source of stress.

Many of my clients get pretty agitated going to meetings where there are always biscuits and the...

Continue Reading...
Can We Retain a Sense of ‘Enough Already’ in the Face of Excess? energy exercise food health mindful nutrition self care stress sugar wellness winter Dec 07, 2021

It's easy to lose our sense of satisfaction and need-over-want at this festive time, but finding ways to stay connected can make the whole shebang leave a better taste in our mouths in the aftermath...

So the big question is, can we retain a sense of 'enough already' in the face of excess? The lead up to the main event is a good time to step back, take stock and see how Christmas is permeating our lives and our expectations.

Are you dizzy as a child at the thought of Santa’s touchdown or feeling the heavy burden of endless present-buying or relatives descending? Personally, I tend to feel quite different each year… BC (Before Child) I used to be able to get full-on festive one year and then positively ignore its existence the next, just enjoying some holiday time without the razzamatazz.

Now I’m swept up in the childhood vision of it all, it’s a time to experience with my daughter what I wish it to be; not about buying and getting yet more stuff, but...

Continue Reading...
The Benefits of Barefoot Running exercise health wellness Nov 18, 2021

Running without shoes or in shoes that allow us to feel the ground is part of a primal movement trend, where greater anthropological understanding has created a shift across many exercise systems. This return to physical activity that honours our inherent design has taken up a more natural approach to our bodies by many, but what is thinking and research behind it?

“Shoes do no more for the foot than a hat does for the brain.” - Dr. Mercer Rang, orthopaedic surgeon and researcher in paediatric development.

This subject came into public awareness in a big way following the release of Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Profile Books 2010), the best-selling book from journalist Christopher McDougall, who after years of repeated running injury, successfully changed his running style to model that of the reclusive Tarahuma Indian Tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. They run over 100 miles at a time, at incredible...

Continue Reading...
How to... Maintain Mood Levels energy mindful mood moodfoods nutrition selfcare sugar Nov 10, 2021

Happy, regulated mood is where life can feel most calm, easy and enjoyable. Yet many often feel in the grip of a rollercoaster rise of emotions, inner criticism, worry and self-doubt. These can include periods of low mood that can make existing daily feel extremely difficult and even downright exhausting.

Whether this falls into a label of ‘depression’ or not, from a holistic point of view, there are some key potential underlying causes that may offer potential change in how we view ourselves and the world. Attending to the self-care we need to be able to cope and find a more positive outlook can in turn allow us to participate in activities that we know elevate our mood. Humans have a naturally raise in mood and motivation via the reward neurotransmitter dopamine when we do anything that propagates survival of the species; eat, drink and exercise, but as pack animals, also through group bonding and cooperation, so group activities, sports, talking, eating together and...

Continue Reading...
Winter as a Time of Immunity Support energy food health immunity self care winter Oct 25, 2021

Winter in the 21st century can seem all about preparations for Christmas - shopping, decorations and TV, but inside, it’s all systems on heat and protection as we move into the coldest months of the year.

How can we ensure we keep strong through these months, instead of crippling our resources when we need them most?

It is always good to remember that Christmas for our fore-mothers and fore-fathers was always a time to see in the winter and prepare for the colder months to come. A huge difference between then and now is the availability of the food itself.

When we relied on what the land gave us – or later what we grew and raised – every calorie was precious, especially those from fat, the best compact source of energy to see you through the winter.

Now calories are all too abundant and living in centrally heated homes, we have removed the need to produce as much body heat from fat.

The motivation of a feast at the height of winter no longer fits with the way...

Continue Reading...
Mindful Eating – Digestion and Satisfaction digestion food health nutrition self care Oct 08, 2021

With so much emphasis on what to eat, the how can get rather left behind, but the full process of digestion – breaking down and absorbing food – demands as much calm and mindfulness as any aspect of our yoga practice. When this is compromised, partially digested food in the gut can cause gas, bloating and contribute to IBS symptoms.

Time, stress and habit often see us bolting food or eating on the go without much thought. Optimal digestion needs energy resources fully directed to the gut and any movement quickly reroutes it out to the muscle; including just standing and using postural muscles. Stress also sends a signal to prepare for protective physical movement and again, muscle wins out. We feel a tense body, often including gripping and tightness in the belly as digestive processes are halted. Our digestive tract has nervous system activity of its own and you really can trust ‘gut feelings’ as a measure of stress.

It is the parasympathetic or calming and...

Continue Reading...
Movement for Supporting Thyroid Function energy exercise health hormones thyroid yoga Sep 23, 2021

Our energy and vitality are bound up in optimal function of a small, but important gland in our throat. Whether you have been diagnosed with a specific thyroid condition or simply feel sluggish and have difficulty losing weight, supporting the health of your thyroid may help improve how you feel.

Our energy levels are profoundly linked to our mental health and those with thyroid issues often reported that it feels like “life is passing them by.” From an Eastern perspective, the thyroid is associated with the throat chakra (energy wheel). Yogis believe this area represents expression and an energetic blockage here may have its roots in fear, inability of self-expression and frustration. Exercise is shown to support thyroid function, but ironically when it is under-functioning, motivation to move can be lost.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ in the neck that produces thyroid hormones that travel to cells throughout the body. One of its major jobs is to...

Continue Reading...
Why We Need to Keep Moving exercise wellness Sep 09, 2021

We are not designed to be sedentary....

Exercise is fundamental for our immune systems, regulation of cholesterol, blood pressure, heart function, mental function, management of stress hormones etc.

The “etc” here really does mean everything that your body does and its regulation of all functions. It is constantly trying to get you back to a resting state where everything is within “normal” parameters, like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, female hormones, the pH (slightly alkaline) of your blood.

It is when it finds difficulty reaching this point of homeostasis (staying the same) that the real problems occur and when symptoms begin to show; for instance an inability to cope with stress often shows up in symptoms like irritability, insomnia, energy slumps, loss of concentration and depression.

You can see here that the body is struggling to get back to a balanced functioning state. It will also be using up lots of nutrients and may be damaged by elevated...

Continue Reading...
Yoga and Insomnia sleep yoga Aug 27, 2021

First published in What Doctor's Don't Tell You Magazine.

We all know the knock-on effects of a bad night’s sleep, but when insomnia becomes chronic it can affect our whole being and ability to function. The daytime fatigue it creates can send us reaching for sugar and stimulants, which in turn affect sleep.

Insomnia falls into two categories; difficulty falling asleep and waking in the night. It tends to be divided into primary insomnia, where sleeplessness is the main symptom and secondary, where sleep is affected by another condition e.g. arthritis, fibromyalgia and depression. From a holistic and psychoneuroimmunological (PNI) perspective - where our bodies work as one completely integrated system – the calming and soothing mechanisms that allow sleep have such far reaching effects on lowering inflammation, modulating immunity and regulating mood and motivation, that promoting sleep quality is a foundation of health; not just the absence of disease, but quality...

Continue Reading...
Make Sleep Count sleep wellness Aug 17, 2021

Quality over Quantity

It is possible that you can spend nearly two-thirds of your life asleep yet many people place less importance on this time than their waking hours. Easy to do, after all we are unconscious, yet the quality of this time has great influence over the quality of our waking hours.

Sleep is all about recovery – physical, emotional and energetic. In order to function fully whilst waking, we rely on the immune facilities, detoxification, tissue and muscle healing and emotional processing that occur during the wee small hours. If this downtime isn’t respected, we may quickly see symptoms like fatigue, irritability, poor concentration and poor recovery from stress, injury and skin complaints.

Lack of sleep, even at a small accumulative level can lead to craving sugar and stimulants as our bodies try to fuel up in the face of less vitally built-up energy. Indeed too little sleep has been associated with incremental weight gain through increased appetite for...

Continue Reading...