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8 Tips to Create Healthy Food for the Time Poor – Koa Recovery Blog Feature

Everyone knows they need to eat cleaner, healthier and more nutritious however for many of us its easier said than done. Who else feels like they just dont have time and are constantly running out of hours in the day! This blog brings to you 8 tips to create heathy food for the time poor by a Sydney-based Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Coach and Yoga Instructor – Sami Bloom. Having completed a degree in Law and Communications, Sami worked in law firms and advertising agencies in Sydney and New York before taking a leap of faith and following her true passion – nutrition!

Read on for my 8 tips food prep, plan, the fallback 5, cook for more, fast food snacks, pantry staples, smoothies, get familiar with the freezer!

A Vegan-Foodie’s Guide to Noosa

We just love Noosa – we can’t visit often enough! It’s got the most beautiful main beach, some cute pockets of smaller beaches, farmers markets galore, a laid-back, healthy and happy vibe and definitely some cafe’s to hop to and fro. But I will say, not sooo many vegan options unfortunately… yet. My best recommendation is to book that nice restaurant anyway, call ahead, and let them know you’re coming and would just love a plant-based dish. Most will be happy to accommodate given adequate notice! As for this list, here are some great daytime cafes in and around Noosa to check out on your next stay…

Noosa Health Bar Acai bowls – Definitely the best Acai we found!

Blended coffee – We love the coffee here, but prefer the Acai from the health bar above…

Elixiba – Maroochydore – Not in the heart of Noosa, but definitely worth the visit every single time. They have it all! 100% plant-based healthy food, treat foods, cocktails, mocktails and elixrs. Divine.

Sunspace – an Organic cafe that serves breakfast and lunch and dinner, not too far out of Noosa! Gorgeous Vibe.

Cafe Nurcha – Maroochydore – great stop to make from the airport. Well worth the detour! It is 100% vegan with smoothies, burgers, pizza, tacos, salads, desserts… and a great health food supermarket and crystal shop attached.

New Earth Cafe – Coolum – I’ve been here numerous times, and not one dish or dessert has dissapointed. Come hungry and leave content!

 

3 Nights at Gaia

Just over a month ago, I visited a beautiful luxe health retreat in the hinterlands of Byron Bay, Gaia. Gaia means spirit of Mother Earth, and the entire operation – from the hand-picked ingredients used to nourish us to the pristine grounds and fresh air all around us – embodies this philosophy. I chose the mother-daughter package, to enjoy some quality one-on-one time with my gorgeous mumma before the silly season and my wedding festivities, and to thank her for all she has done. It is a really lovely thing to do with your mum or sister, and we both really enjoyed this package. We felt well and truly pampered and rested by the end of it!

The moment I set foot on the property, I could feel it was special. There is no tranquility like that of green rolling hills, quietly rustling tall shady trees, happy birds and the trickle of a water fountain or two. That’s it! Literally, no building for the eye to see or highway for the ear to hear. It is pure, unadulterated quiet and serenity. The retreat is small and intimate, so there aren’t herds of people to-ing and fro-ing. No hall or elevator music as each room is it’s own little bungalow, accessed from the outdoors. The main dining area, yoga room, spa and pool area are all speckled around the property keeping everything just close enough whilst still encouraging a pleasant stroll through the grounds.

The days looked like this:

  • A deep, vibrational gong to wake you up nice and early.
  • They provide tea, a kettle, lemons and fruit to start the day right! Hot water with lemon for me.
  • A morning yoga session.
  • Breakfast of a cold buffet + a hot plate – they were very accomodating to our vegan request, and most meals were predominantly plant-based anyway.
  • I’d then go for a walk around the property with mum, stopping off at the veggie garden and the scenic lookouts. One morning we walked in to Newrybar town, approx 40 mins each way. It’s a beautiful street to walk around with eclectic furniture and a gorgeous cafe, Harvest. You can also use the retreat bikes.
  • There are mid morning activities to choose from, that change daily e.g. cooking class, skincare seminar, a workout, garden tour etc.
  • Lunch was a la carte and always delicious! One giant plate of goodness, with lots of the ingredients fresh from the garden.
  • In the afternoon spa treatments were usually scheduled, and I would head to the pool to enjoy a swim and a few laps before indulging in whatever spa treatment they had in store. Every single one was 10/10 amazing. One of the best spa’s I’ve ever been to!
  • More lying by the pool reading and swimming. There is also a hot tub and sauna to make good use of.
  • There is the option of an afternoon activity, similar to the morning options.
  • Early dinner around 6pm – 3 courses! Never skipped dessert, it was too good!
  • Maybe a tea to finish off the evening whilst I relaxed in the bath or read my book.
  • Bedtime at 9pm… I slept so well here.

The highlights:

  1. The food – never missed a beat! Whether it was the incredible gluten-free porridge mix, the sautéed veg breakfast hot plate, an exotic blend of greens from the garden, light but insanely flavourful dressings and sauces, and incredibly crafted desserts, the meals were a true highlight. Honestly, it might be easy to overindulge what with a buffet for breakfast, a three course meal on offer for dinner and wine available on request, but my best tips are:

  • take advantage of the turmeric shot at breakfast, skip the smoothie and opt for water or the veg juice, stick to one cold plate from the breakfast buffet (start with fruit) and make sure the hot plate is mostly veg, skip the snack table that is available all day (you should be eating enough at meals to get you through), enjoy your entire plate at lunch and the three courses available at dinner – opting to share dessert if you feel you want to stay on the lighter side, say no to wine for the entire stay! I think with the lack of snacking, keeping active and going to bed early, the food provided without the extra’s is just the right amount to nourish your body properly and showcase just how amazing healthy food can be. If going vegan is of interest you, this is definitely the place to try it out!

  1. The Spa + Retreatment – they use their own home-brand… Retreatment, beautifully crafted and thoughtfully put together with certified organic, cruelty-free, vegan, locally-sourced, active ingredients. I have been lucky enough to be using the full range and absolutely adore the white cypress mist, the H20 vita boost serum and the face dew moisturiser.

      

  1. Sound meditation – this was incredibly relaxing and healing for me. Not only stimulating auditory senses, but also kinaesthetic, as you feel the vibrations in your entire body. The sound bowls are made from precious materials from the earth such as quartz infused with jade and even white gold, and they make a unique, incredibly soothing sound. Do not miss this one!
  1. The garden – maybe it’s the mini gardener in me, but I have such huge appreciate for harvesting your own food. The garden tour was really great to learn some new tips and tricks and bring you closer to the food you find on your plate.

  1. Check in – can be any day, unlike other health retreats where you must start and finish at the same time as other guests. Gaia allows flexibility and ease so that you can slot in some R&R at a time that works best for you.

As you can see, I absolutely loved my time at Gaia, and highly recommend it for those looking for a holiday they don’t need a holiday from! There is no shortage of feel-good things to do or delicious food to eat, and you will feel nourished from the inside out after just a short stay. It truly is worth the money. I hope you find yourself there one day soon!

Light, love & good health,

Sami

xx

FIVE SURPRISING VEGAN SOURCES OF PROTEIN

Article recently contributed to Rescu.com.au.

Protein is an important macronutrient found within every cell in the body. When we consume it in food, it is utilised by our bodies to repair and rebuild the tissues of our muscles, skin and organs. Yet despite the popular idea that “we always need more protein”, protein is actually very misunderstood. Unfortunately, society has been conditioned to view plant protein as inferior to meat protein. Further, many believe more is a case of better when it comes to protein intake. These notions couldn’t be further from the truth….

Read More here.

Sleep Hygiene Tips for A Good Night’s Rest

The importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. We all know it is necessary, but few of us really stop and think about how sleep, or a lack thereof, actually impacts how we function. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about it, as I have recently changed mattresses to a new SleepX mattress. I can’t tell you how critical a quality mattress is! Both for the physical effects on the body (i.e. comfort and muscular ease), but also the mental and biochemical benefits of sleep we go into below. SleepX sent me their mattress to trial and I can safely say I absolutely love it. It has reminded me just how important sleep hygiene is and why healthy sleep patterns are such an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.

The body’s sleep cycle plays a crucial role in many important bodily processes including learning, memory and mood, temperature, energy levels, heart rate, appetite, digestion, detoxification and hormone regulation. Interestingly, research shows us that a sleep deficit is inflammatory. Elevated inflammatory markers can contribute to conditions such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and autoimmunity. With so much inflammation from pollution, toxins, poor dietary choices and stress, we simply do not need to be adding to the problem through sleep disturbances.

When it comes to weight-loss or maintenance, a lack of sleep has been shown to prompt heightened appetite and less feelings of satisfaction after eating. This is largely because poor sleep increases Ghrelin (the hormone that signals we are hungry) and decreases Leptin (the hormone which decreases our appetite). Although everyone agrees that diet and movement are integral to our health, sleep actually influences everything from how much we eat and what we crave to exercise performance, results and recovery. So it would seem, sleep sets us up to follow through on our good intentions!

Consistency around a healthy diet, regular sleep patterns and good sleep hygiene will improve the quantity and quality of your sleep.

Lifestyle Considerations:

  • Do not use computers or phones 1 hour prior to sleep;
  • Ensure you don’t exercise too close to bed. Sleep experts agree that leaving a minimum of three hours between your workout and bed-time, to allow the body time to cool off before sleep;
  • Take a hot bath/shower 2-3 hours before bed – similar to the above, the temperature drop signals to your body it’s time for sleep;
  • Take large diaphragmatic breaths to unwind, either in bed or just prior;
  • Ensure you choose a quality mattress. This cannot be overlooked! I have been sleeping on my SleepX* for one month now, and can honestly say that it is heavenly. It is a hybrid of the highest quality memory foam and high-resilience foam for longevity and support. I feel it moulds to my body, whilst still remaining firm. There are three comfort choices, soft medium and firm (I chose firm and absolutely love it). 
  • Stick to a consistent bedtime and waking up schedule to form solid sleep patterns.

Dietary Tips:

  • Reassess caffeine and alcohol intake and be honest with yourself about how “moderate” your intake is, and how close you consume these things to bedtime. It might seem like you fall asleep quicker when you drink alcohol but research has shown us that sleep quality is diminished with REM sleep (the most restorative kind) impairment;
  • Avoid processed, sugary and excessively salty food, which can interfere with sleep, digestion and mood;
  • Consume moderate amounts of healthy fats daily such as 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds, ⅓ cup raw nuts or seeds, ¼-½ avocado, to increase Leptin production;
  • Eat dinner at least 2-4 hours prior to sleep;
  • Eat magnesium and tryptophan rich foods for dinner e.g. pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, legumes, tofu, brown rice, quinoa, figs, walnuts;
  • Sip chamomile tea 2 hours prior to induce calm. Avoid liquids 1-2 hours before bed.

*SleepX is an online bedding retailer offering premium Australian made “bed-in -a-box” mattresses and accessories with the largest range of choice available. They even have customised alternate feels on each side of the mattress surface to cater to partners who have different bedding tastes! So if your partner likes soft and you like firm, both needs can be met in the one mattress. All products are non-allergenic, anti-bacterial, recyclable and certified by Good Environmental Choice Australia. Plus, they offer a 120-night free trial and a 10-year guarantee on their mattresses. 

Skincare – My Wedding Prep Routine

As most of you know, my wedding was about a month ago, and I am finally finding the time to sit down and put together all of my prepratory tips and routines I followed in the lead up to the big, incredible day!

First up is skin, because let’s face it, nothing makes you feel more confident than good skin!

I get a lot of questions on skin, tonnes! I am really fortunate to have good skin at this point in my life, but trust me, this has definitely not always been the case for me. In fact, one of the main giveaways that I had PCOS when I was young was my consistent break outs forcing my mum to take me to a dermatologist who suggested I get checked for PCOS. As such, I have always been intrigued by skincare regimens and have tried everything under the sun – much like diets, noticing a trend here?!

Of course, as a nutritionist, I am the first to acknowledge that good skin comes from within, that our outter appearance is a strong indication of what is going on internally. Getting on top of my hormonal health with dietary changes significantly cleared up my skin in my teens, but the biggest shift I saw in my skin was when I went vegan. It appeared smoother and more radiant within 6-9 months. In the lead up to the wedding, I further altered my diet and supplements which I will share on here later… For now, I really want to focus on topical skincare because I think this routine really stepped up my game! I am definitley planning to keep up the at home stuff post wedding too, as I really enjoy the extra 5 mins it took morning and night. It can truly become a mindfulness/self-care practice.

Firstly, I want to disclaimer this by giving a bit of back story: I had tried Eminence many years ago and really liked it, but having no real appreciation for organic, natural skincare, I didn’t realise how incredible it was and carried on using pharmacy brands. As I cleaned up my diet and lifestyle, I did switch to very, very natural products, some worked for a little bit, some didn’t, but slowly, I began to realise that apple cider vinegar as a toner and coconut oil as a moisturiser etc didn’t work for me. I felt my skin was congested and lacklustre. So under the recommendation of a skin therapist I gave Eminence another go, properly this time i.e. a proper am and pm routine. From there, I was hooked. I was so impressed with the ingredients list, the philosophy and most importantly, the results and how it made my skin feel instantaneously, I contacted them. I had the good fortune of being able to sample many of their products to find the one’s that were right for me. Other than receiving products, this review is not paid and is entirely my opinion and true experience with the brand.

Eminence uses only the healthiest, organic, premium ingredients grown in Hungary (fun fact: I am half Hungarian!). They skip all the harmful chemicals and additivies in favour of embracing the natural potential of plants for lasting, clear, balanced, revitalised, glowing results. Note, the entire range is not 100% vegan (though they do not test on animals at all), All the products I chose are vegan, and if you go to the website there is a good guide to what is and isn’t vegan-friendly.

I love Eminence because of their utilisation of incredibly beautiful and beautifying plant ingredients that make your skin feel and look amazing instantly. The products are so luxurious, simply by harnessing the beauty of nature. They have a strong commitment to environmentally-sustainable practices across their entire business, which is important to me, are organic, offer a range of different targetted products so you are bound to find the ones right for you, and are extremely transparent in all that they do. They look fantastic, smell out of this world, and feel divine. What’s more, they work! You really do get the results!

Honestly, within a week of adopting a proper am and pm routine, I noticed positive skin changes myself. I started to get comments after about two months. Keeping up my regular monthly facials at a salon that used Eminence, coupled with red light therapy sky-rocketed those results and had me feeling radiant for the big day 🙂

What I used:

Blueberry soy exfoliating cleanser – massaged well into my skin for 60 seconds am and pm. It is not beaded or harsh, but feels just like a cream cleanser. I then used a warm muslin cloth to gently wash it off.

Neroli Age Protective Hydrating Mist spritzed onto my face am and pm to prepare my skin for serums. I keep this in the fridge and love, love, love it! If I pass the fridge I will just mist myself with it whenever I can! I decanted this into a smaller spray bottle to take with me on the plane and I used it every hour haha, Mike was so embarrassed!

Bamboo firming fluid  – as a serum, underneath my moisturiser during the day. I would massage my face with this for a good minute or two to boost circulation! Always leave in for 1 minute before applying moisturiser.

Hibiscus Ultra Lift Eye Cream – love this because it has a super cool roller which de-puffs and massages the delicate under eye area. I use this  during the day, visible difference!

Red Currant Protective Moisturiser – as my daytime moisturiser with SPF.

Bright skin licorice Root Booster-Serum – underneath my night cream at night, great for pigmentation (I would put some on my arms too!), also massaged in well for lymphatic drainage. Always leave in for 1 minute before applying moisturiser.

Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum dabbed onto my under eye area each night, always motioning upward.

Arctic Berry Peptide Radiance Cream – used as a night cream.

Arctic Berry Peel and Peptide Illuminating Systemthis is amazing and I would do this once a week for an at home facial! The Arctic Berry Peptide Radiance Cream moisturiser (3rd step) is seriously divine, and I would definitely recommend buying it as it’s own product for a delicious night cream if you don’t want the whole package.

Coconut Firming Body Lotion – I have a bit of Keratosis Pilaris from time to time on my arms, also significantly decreased when I went vegan to be honest, but I felt like this lotion really calmed it down even further, and made the skin tone on my arms (a little sun-damaged) appear more even and smooth. I love this lotion! Smells heavenly.

NOTE: as I was flying overseas for my wedding, I tranferred my products into smalle containers for in-flight, which I highly recommend to all you destination brides or frequent travellers! The mist, a rosehip oil and a thick hydrating mask/moisturiser were invaluable. I really didn’t feel dry or dehyrated post flight. I also drank a tonne of water and skipped the celebratory vino.

As you can see, it’s not a short list, but these products last forever! Especially as a little goes a long way. I also made use of other methods such as facial massage, using my jade roller (on plane as well), warm muslin cloths to infuse the cleanser in and gently wash off, and of course, a healthy diet with plenty of water and hydrating, alkalising foods. I tried a lot of other products and these are my final contendors and what I used consistently in the months leading up to what was easily the best time of my life 🙂 My skin has never felt better.

I recommend finding a therapist that works with Eminence products because they train their suppliers really thoroughly and that way they can recommend what your skin needs, as well as treat you with the best of the best. I also added on light therapy to my treatments. Monthly facials, good at home products and routines and a clean diet will have you looking wedding ready, year round.

 

I hope this was helpful! Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions <3

I’ll be back to chat more about wedding prep and wedding celebrations soon!

Love & health,

Sami

x

 

 

 

Why Hemp Could be Considered a Household Staple & Thompson’s Exciting New Range of Hemp Foods

I am so excited that low THC hemp seed foods have finally been permitted for sale  in Australia, so that we can all enjoy the wonderful benefits of these powerful seeds. Hemp is considered one of the most nutritious plants in the world! Yet despite this, over two million Australians are still confused about hemp foods and, as a result, may miss out on the benefits of this superfood. Below are the key benefits to using hemp powder, seeds and oil in your daily life, what they taste like, how to use them, and why they won’t impair your state of mind!

PROTEIN: The seeds are a good source of protein and they contain the essential amino acids our bodies do not produce naturally, thus helping our bodies building and repair muscle and tissue;

ESSENTIAL FATS: Hemp is a plant-based source of essential fatty acids (omega-3 & omega-6) in an ideal ratio. These fats are crucial to support the structure and function of cells. The human body doesn’t produce essential fatty acids, so it’s important that we get them from our diet;

DIETARY FIBRE: A good source which is Important for healthy digestion, supporting gut health and offering steady energy.

TASTE

Hemp products have a pleasant, mild, nutty flavour that is not overpowering, and lends them to both sweet and savoury dishes.

HOW TO USE

x Sprinkle the seeds on top of salads, stir-fries, soups or smoothies

x Blend hemp protein powder with fruit into a strengthening smoothie

x Stir through the powder or the seeds into porridge or bircher muesli

x Bake with the powder/seeds in muffins, loaves or cookies, or roll them up in bliss balls

x Add the seeds to bean burger patties for added texture

x Mix hemp oil with other ingredients to form a salad dressing or simply drizzle on salads or over steamed veggies (Note, not to be used for heating)

x Soak seeds in water and blend into hemp milk

FINALLY… Whilst yes, hemp is derived from the Cannabis genus of plants, the seeds do not contain enough THC (<.5%) to produce any psychoactive effects! So it’s not going to alter your state of mind in any way.

Thompson’s Hemp Range is now available in Australian pharmacies and health food stores.

Check out @thompsons_nutrition_au on Instagram, @ThompsonsNutritionAustralia and www.thompsonsnutrition.com.au for more information.

 

CRYOTHERAPY, FLOATING & COMPRESSION THERAPY: KOA RECOVERY

Recently,I was fortunate enough to visit Koa Recovery, a beautiful and intriguing wellbeing clinic located in Waterloo, Sydney. It’s not simply your typical, massage, facial, sauna space, but rather a place you can freeze, get squeezed, and float! Among many other therapies. The space is fresh and uplifting and the staff are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable – which is great, because I had 100s of questions! Whilst I was there, I tried three therapies, Cryotherapy, NormaTec Compression Therapy and the Float Tank. Here is a little about each:

Cryotherapy is a treatment whereby skin is exposed to temperatures below zero for up to 3 minutes! Sounds extreme, I know, so why would one do this? Having always wanted to try cryotherapy since hearing about it, and reading of the benefits of cold exposure from the likes of Whim Hoff, I was pretty excited to give it a go. Cryo has a host of benefits including improved oxygen and nutrient circulation, increased collagen production and metabolism boosting (you burn 800 calories from just this 3 mins of exposure!). More than that, it actually is a powerful healing mechanism for injuries as well as general athletic recovery. It promotes pain reduction and your bodies anti-inflammatory responses, whilst helping to flush toxins from the skin, muscle tissue and joints. Worthwhile for such a short time-frame of shivering! I was petrified at first, as I am very cold sensitive, but the fact that Shaun talked me through it, and that you keep your head out of the cold made it manageable. The feeling once you walk out (robed) is unlike anything else. My skin was tingly, my body felt invigorated yet relaxed, and pain was already minimised.

NormaTec Compression Therapy is basically inflatable boots you put on, all the way up your legs, and sit there as they tighten and loosen around you in a very soothing rhythm. No pain is experience, rather increased and decreased pressure. It’s sort of like a limb massage, and is used to reduce muscle soreness, speed recovery time, assist lymphatic drainage (note, you might need to pee right after!) and reduce fluid retention. I didn’t expect much from this but actually really loved it! I get very sore legs and I felt extremely light afterward.

The float tank is the ultimate in relaxation. I highly recommend booking this for the end of your treatments. You will literally float out of there! The floating takes place in luxurious, soundproof pods filled with magnesium rich water filled with 100% naturally mined, pharmaceutical grade, therapeutic epsom salts. There is so much salt in there, the moment you lay back you feel your weight carried by the water. Not only is magnesium beneficial to muscle recovery, the simple act of floating, feeling weightless and the mineral-rich salts, makes this a number one stress relieving activity, in my opinion. Definitely succumb to the urge to snooze!

All in all, I loved my experience at Koa, and although a pricey activity, I think I could definitely reward myself with it from time-to-time. If you are suffering from a chronic injury or condition (there is some evidence around cryotherapy for autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and MS), it is definitely worthwhile exploring regularly.

I hope you found this post helpful, please let me know if you have any questions I haven’t covered. And let me know what you think of any of these treatments if you’ve tried them yourself?!

In health,

Sami

xx

6 Weeks To Sexy Program: What I learned, What I most Enjoyed

So by now you must be thinking, I thought she was doing 6 weeks to sexy, not 18 weeks?! It’s true, I have totally become hooked on this program, and have carried it through to the 3 month mark. Whilst my first two programs really saw me commit to the 5 days a week workouts, this last one I have been nursing an old back injury, and focusing on more pilates, walking, yoga and Physio exercises. However, as I will explain below, each 6 weeks taught me something different about myself and my body, and I guess that is just realistic and reflective of life in general. We can’t be perfect, things come up – emotionally, work-wise and physically – and at the end of the day you have to do what is right for you at that point in time. I have seriously loved every single workout throughout this program, and can’t wait to share with you what I have learned, and what I have most enjoyed!

What I have learned:

  1. Appetite increase – I get much hungrier when I am working out intensely, and need to ensure I fuel my body properly. For this, smoothies have been a dream – and I never have more protein than a 3-4:1 carb:protein ratio. I’ll make myself a turmeric latte for afterward, and that would hold me over to a mid-morning snack which I now always need!
  2. Listen to my body – In terms of hunger, energy and injury it is so important to listen to your body. It will repay you, and it will also catch up to you if you don’t! Even when it didn’t feel right to train, I still took care of myself in some way- whether it was a rest day or I chose to move my body in a different way (walking, yoga, pilates, Physio exercises).
  3. It’s about frame of mind – set the goals you wish to achieve and focus on them every day. I can tell the difference in my attendance and performance the weeks I said to myself (and out loud) that I was going to smash every day of that week. You make less excuses and you make the time to see it through- whether it be setting your alarm, a reminder on your phone, telling a partner or friend of your intention, packing your bag etc. etc. being in the right frame of mind get’s you to training every  day and pushes you to do your best.
  4. Overall energy boost – my gosh I have so much energy lately!  I really have no energy crashes, and I attribute it to working out daily and eating accordingly. Exercise should invigorate you, if it doesn’t, it might be worthwhile to speak to a practitioner about your adrenal health.
  5. Increased water consumption – this might be a silly one but I have also never drank more water and I feel like the combo of this, plus sweating daily, has really helped my skin.
  6. It’s not about what you weigh, but rather how you feel. I made the decision to not weigh myself as I went along, as I didn’t want any old insecurities to creep back in. I also now know how it is your body composition that often changes most, and that might not see a shift on the scales. 6W2S is very intent on letting you know this, with weekly emails and info regarding muscle, body fat and overall weight. As we get measured in a variety of ways at the start of each program (InBody Scan showing body fat percentage and muscle mass etc., body measurements, and strength capabilities), having this 6 week weigh-in is all you need. I also love how it is not simply weight, but rather, there are so many ways to track progress!

What I have most enjoyed:

  1. Having a solid routine, and taking the thought piece out of the exercise equation! This might sound silly, but choosing what to do each day can be stressful, and ensuring you have carved out the time to do it can be challenging! With 6W2S- I just get up and go and have someone tell me what to do 🙂
  2. Blake has a few “tests” he runs throughout the programs whereby he times you going through the session – without a doubt, I constantly bettered myself every time I was re-tested, showing me how much stronger and fitter I was becoming.
  3. Being outdoors for the most part, especially our once-a-week at Bondi. Sunrises always make a workout that much more rewarding and set a beautiful calming, energising tone to the day.
  4. The crew – the girls and trainers are the best of the best, and really motivate, inspire and make it all the more enjoyable turning up each morning. Not to mention the support and community generated through external activities and events and the FB set up each and every program.
  5. Feeling like my body has moved sufficiently each and every day – for someone that is seriously desk-bound either blogging or seeing clients, it can be challenging to get the 10K steps in we should all be aiming for. Whilst I still make a conscious effort to take breaks and walk around, these morning sessions ensure that I have moved my body daily to counteract the hours of computer-time.
  6. The results! Whether it be a more positive mindset, cleaner eating patterns, weight-loss, increased muscle mass, commitment, or hitting new goals, each 6 weeks actually offered me something new. The first one I was most committed to and saw the most physical progress, the second was all about new goals in fitness and strength and this third has been about mindset and listening to my body (due to my injury). Overall within the 3 months I’ve seen a significant drop in body fat %, comparable for what I had to loose, and am really happy with my overall results.

How to Implement & Stick to Change

CHANGE – this word either excites or incites fear in people. I know for myself, I have struggled with change my whole life. When it comes to changes in emotions and relationships, I can be rigid and at times, unaccepting. I have had very little change in my life, except my parents divorcing when I was very young, so I think this has something to do with my resistance. Interestingly, my fiancé, Mike, who has moved all around the world since age 5, is much more flexible when it comes to change in any form, and I think that might have something to do with having had to change so much from such a young age!

I invite you now to think about change in your own lives… how much change have you gone through? How did it affect you? How do you respond to change? This might give you insight into how you address changes in other aspects of your life, such as the way you tackle a new way of eating or living.

Change is inevitable… it is the one thing we can count on! 

When it comes to reassessing our health, and introducing a new routine/habit, implementing and maintaining positive changes is key. This is something I have had lots of experience with – having changed from a corporate career to the health profession, tackled an eating disorder, worked through self-doubt and insecurity, and tried many, many diets, to finding a balanced, wholefood, vegan diet now. Here is what I have learned from my health journey and tools I find useful when it comes to making a health shift and sticking to it!

  1. Write down your WHY – Write down what this change is, and then 3-5 reasons why you are making it. It might be hard to come up with 1, but I promise you, you can think of a few to mentally support yourself and reinforce just how justified and necessary this change is. Try to think outside the square, for example “to lose weight” or “to lose 3-5 kg” is a common one. Whilst weight-loss may be appropriate, try to focus on something more positive, that doesn’t stir up negative emotion e.g. “to support every cell in my body” or “to eat for health and longevity”. This is far more “big picture” and in those moments of “weakness”, you will feel far more supported and good about a positive outcome (living a long healthy life) than simply fast weight-loss. Specific to a vegan diet, one of my reasons was for the good of the planet and for my love of animals. Every time that I ever thought about taking a slice of cheese from the cheese board at social events, or caving at a restaurant because there was nothing suitable, I had that as my motivation. Often, we feel like we can let ourselves down (and then scold ourselves later 🙁 ), but when our reasoning is tied to something or someone greater than us, it is just what we need to see the change through. Something to think about…
  2. SCHEDULE it in – Regarding exercise: How many times will you work out? What activity will you do? When will you do it? Re food: What will you eat? When will you do the food shop? When will you food-prep? Pen this all out into your weekly diary and set reminders if needed. Treat these as arrangements with other people, that you cannot cancel! My best advice is to also schedule self-care… 15 mins a day to step away from work, get outside or have a lie down/meditation.
  3. MOTIVATE yourself – Spend time researching/reading books/watching documentaries and articles that support you. There are some fantastic vegan/healthy ones out there! Be a constant sponge for new and exciting information that can help you on your health journey. Aside from info, books, social media, magazines and blogs are great tools to finding new, delicious recipes that align with your values. Keeping information fresh and a repertoire of new and innovative meals on hand keeps you motivated and makes the experience more pleasurable.
  4. ESTABLISH a morning routine that supports the change – starting the day on a healthy foot sets you up right and has you walking out the door on a high. I like to do deep belly breaths and visualise my goals. Other options are morning meditation, journalling thoughts or reading. Whatever it is, incorporate this into a healthy routine of hygiene, lemon water and exercise (unless you prefer to workout later) and do it every day.
  5. REWARD yourself – maybe that is a sweet treat, a massage, a new pair of leggings, a longer rest… whatever it is to you… reward yourself weekly. Acknowledge your hard work and dedication, and say thank you.

Be sure to check out my 7 sunday rituals (some are included in here!) for what to do to set yourself up for a healthy, productive week. This can definitely help with organisations of any health changes that you are currently making or aspiring to. You can do this!

In health & love,

Sami

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How to: Easy Food-Prep

Food prep truly is the foundation to our health. Whether you work from home, an office or are at school/university, a certain amount of preparation is critical if we are to make healthy choices.  Without it, we are likely to reach for the convenient option, the takeaway shop near the office, the food delivery app, or scrounge together some snacks from the pantry. Not prepping properly can also lead to over-eating, because you get home famished, making a proper meal seems so far off when you have nothing prepped, so you reach for anything and everything before making a proper meal. Sound all to familiar? It doesn’t have to be.

Let’s get prepped!

Sure, we can go overboard here… you can have 5 lunches pre-portioned, a snack, a healthy treat, dips, dressings, and grains all soaked and cooked up. However this “go-hard” strategy, is likely unsustainable. What we want to set up is a solid routine that you can adhere to week after week. You can rotate the varieties e.g. swap from broccoli to Brussels sprouts, brown rice to quinoa etc. each week, in fact, I encourage you to, in order to obtain a broader spectrum of nutrients, but the principles are simple. I will list the 5 non-negotiable, and add on a few “additionals”, should any of them jump out at you and you have a little extra time.

  1. Buy and wash/dry a big bag or two of spinach – Easy! Put it in a large glass Tupperware and store it in the fridge. It can now be added to smoothies, salads and cooked meals with ease. I buy 1kg for Mike and I. Why? High in vitamins such as A, C, E and some Bs as well as minerals like magnesium, zinc and calcium, chlorophyll-rich spinach also provides additional fibre as well as the added benefit of alkalising our bodies.
  2. Roast a BIG tray of Cruciferous & starchy veggies – I like to choose three options such as 1 x head Broccoli, 1 x head Cauliflower & 3-4 medium Sweet potatoes. Other cruciferous options are Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, cabbage. Starches include: potato varieties, beetroot, turnips, parsnips, peas, pumpkin, organic corn. Why? Because a serving of cruciferous vegetables a day is healthy to support our liver and detoxification pathways as well as being anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. Starch is a satiating, delicious way to amp up our fibre and feed the friendly bacteria in our gut which in turn produces butyrate (beneficial and important to the colon).
  3. Boil 1-2 cups dry gluten-free grains – Quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, teff, millet, buckwheat, 100% buckwheat soba or rice noodles… these are WHOLE grains. Whilst refined grains are stripped of most of their nutrients, these beautiful grains are full of fibre, minerals, phytochemical, vitamins and amino acids. Do not be afraid to consume. For any digestive issues, try soaking them overnight, draining and then cooking in fresh water. Why? Grains assist with brain function, fat metabolism, energy production and tissue repair.
  4. Stock up or cook legumes – Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, cannelloni beans are always in my pantry. I buy organic, no-salt-added varieties that have no preservatives or nasties. Be sure to wash them thoroughly in a strainer, until all bubbles disappear, to avoid bloating. You can also soak dry legumes and then drain and cook them yourself. Why? As well as possessing the benefits of other starches as stated above, they are loaded with protein, are low GI and help to balance blood sugar and appetite, and are choc-full-of antioxidants and fibre to promote good digestion, heart health, and prevent cancer.
  5. Make a batch of salad dressing – there are so many combos you can try here. This ensures putting together a salad is easy and tasty in a pinch. Why? Because store-bought ones are generally full of preservatives, additives, and unnecessary salt and sugar. These have incredibly beneficial ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, lemons, miso, tahini, spices etc. that only bring you more health, not empty calories!

Additionals:

7 Steps to Spring Cleanse 

A change of seasons is a natural time of transition. Spring in particular, is a time many feel compelled to hit reset on their lifestyle choices. Embracing the fresh crisp air and keeping an open mind, I invite you to try these cleansing tips as you move away from the colder, darker months into the sunshine and vitality of Spring! 

Begin your day with the juice of ½ lemon in 250 ml warm water – lemons are not just a good source of vitamin C, lemons also support the hard-working liver, our main detoxifying organ. They strengthen liver enzymes and promote the secretion of bile, which in turn aids digestion. A detoxification agent, blood purifier and digestive aid, they are in actual fact alkalising once within the body (despite their acidic taste!).

Sip on herbal tea throughout the day – if a hot drink isn’t your cup of tea, try it iced! Dandelion tea in particular is a renown tonic with vast medicinal properties. It is fantastic for getting rid of bloating as it too stimulates bile, necessary for the proper breakdown of food and ensuring we absorb our nutrients efficiently, as well as having a diuretic function = say goodbye to water retention! Another good option is green tea which is loaded with catechins, potent antioxidants that also supports the liver… sensing a theme here?! This cleanse tea combines a few healing, digestive-assisting herbs and is a great spring-time brew.

Include vegetables at every single meal – especially cruciferous vegetables which contain sulphur, folate, calcium, iron vitamins C, E and K to support our overworked livers! Vegetables are also alkalising and full of fibre to ensure we are “eliminating” properly. If breakfast is usually a sweet meal such as porridge, chia puddings or bircher, try consuming 1-2 tsp of a quality greens powder just after your meal- I like this one.

Try 1-2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar in water 15 mins prior to meals – it might seem as though this magical elixir is included in every “health” oriented post, but the truth is, it seriously is that good for us, and has so many roles to play. Ensure you get one that has the “mother” in it, like this one. The bitter taste stimulates digestive enzymes which helps us break down and reap the benefits of our food. As it is fermented it is incredibly beneficial to the growth of our good gut flora. It is also fantastic for preventing/reducing bloating and reflux, and detoxes us by altering our blood pH to becoming more alkaline.

Ensure your bowels are moving daily – if not twice daily! Magnesium, a mineral that can be found in foods or supplemented, helps ease constipation by relaxing the muscles in the intestinal walls. Try this internal magnesium powder, which relaxes the body and can help move “things” along, or for some more external relaxation (which can also help!) try these bath salts. You can consume magnesium in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, but for chronic constipation, this may not be enough and supplementation may be appropriate.

Declutter – fresh space, fresh mind, fresh outlook. Clean out the wardrobe, the pantry, the fridge and the cupboards! Maybe change out the screensaver on your computer, the arrangement of small furniture items in your living space, buy a new indoor plant, and consider diffusing essential oils in your home or using them instead of perfume. Lemon, orange, grapefruit and peppermint are all great detoxifying and purifying oils to try!

Commit to purchasing from your farmers market – to avoid pesticides and waxes on our beautiful fresh produce! It is a great way to get in an active catch up with a friend; a stroll through the markets as opposed to opting for coffees, wines or heavy meals. It is also the best way to shop in season, pesticide-free/organic, affordably. With the Spring weather, there is no better reason to get outside and support local farmers!

 

Detox support – if you really feel like you have a lot to get rid of and need the extra support, take your cleansing up a notch by employing these foot detox patches. According to ancient Eastern medicine, toxins build up in our bodies throughout the day, travelling to the lower extremities such as the feet at night. These detox foot patches have been designed to absorb such toxins as the blood circulates throughout our bodies during our sleep.

3 Ayurvedic practices I am making a habit of

Dinacharya – “Dina” meaning day and “Charya” meaning activity – refers to the Ayurvedic daily routine that is encouraged to reduce stress, improve digestion and prevent chronic disease. Many of the practices are applicable to the morning time to set up the day with balance, cleanliness of mind and body and ease.

There are some elements that I, and perhaps you, might already be performing… Early rising, engaging in exercise and/or meditation, brushing teeth, showering, warm lemon water, eating a healthy breakfast… So without necessarily being aware of it, you might already be partaking in Dinacharya! However strictly and traditionally, it is quite a process! Whilst I respect it, I definitely don’t stick to the letter of it.

After some recent reading, I have decided to make more of an effort to incorporate three aspects of Dinacharya into my already established routine. I feel these are easy to implement and believe they will boost my day and improve overall wellbeing. Join me!

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Tongue Scraping

This simple practice removes bacteria and toxins accumulated overnight, whilst also stimulating and cleansing the digestive tract and vital organs (different points of the tongue are said to relate to specific organs). From my research, this should be the first step in your oral hygiene routine. So whether you brush, gargle or floss, scrape your tongue first – 7-10 brisk strokes should do the trick, and wash off excess where necessary between scrapes. Don’t be too vigorous, it should not hurt. Once done, brush your teeth and then enjoy your warm lemon water.

Oil Swishing

This practice is believed to strengthen the teeth, gums and jaw. It also shows some promise in gingivitis and plaque build-up prevention and overall oral health. You may have heard of oil pulling. I originally shied away from this practice, placing it in the “too hard” basket…. The idea of swishing oil in my mouth for upward of 15 minutes seemed ludicrous to me! Who has that time? However, my reading has revealed that traditionally, this practice need not be so indulgent, 1-3 minutes will do the trick. Yay! Once you have had your warm lemon, place about 1 tbsp of oil (preferably warmed, unrefined, organic and cold-pressed sesame or coconut oil) into your mouth, swish for a minute or two, spit out (do not swallow!), and before rinsing use your finger to massage your gums softly to increase circulation. Tip: to warm the oil I recommend using a small container filled with 1 tbsp of the oil, secured tightly and placed in warm water for a minute, perhaps whilst you drink your lemon water. Confession: I only do this 3-5 times a week, do it when you remember/have time, I think this is good enough!

Abhyanga

This is an ancient practice of oily self-massage, said to nourish the skin, promote good circulation, lubricate tissues, optimise detoxification and soothe the nervous system. Before you shower, perhaps after exercise, warm about 1/4 cup unrefined organic sesame, almond or coconut oil, by placing it in a hot bowl (you can add essential oils to the base oil as well). Then, massage your entire body, starting from the head. Pay particular attention to the soles of your feet, your ears, nail beds and the scalp. If you don’t want to wash your hair, choose to forgo the oil here and use dry hands to give yourself a scalp massage (great for stimulating the hair follicles and promoting growth!). See a good tutorial here. If you don’t have time for the full body massage, at least massage your hands, feet, and neck, as these are said to be major stress points and benefit most from stimulation. Wait at least 10 minutes before washing off oil. You could oil swish whilst you wait, tidy up or prepare breakfast or dinner (being careful with your oily feet!), meditate… Then, enjoy a warm shower, the heat of which will allow the oil to penetrate the skin, nourishing and strengthening the connective tissue. Bonus points to turn the tap to cold for 10 seconds at the end of your shower, then hot, then cold! Always finish on cold. This is great for circulation. Morning is believed to be ideal for Abhyanga, but it can also be done in the evening, choose when suits you best. Tip: try using a dry brush on your body before Abhyanga!

4 pre-prepped breakfast ideas for those rushed mornings

Every meal is equally important, so you can forget that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mantra that has become so popular. Proper fuel is required throughout the day to keep you energised and nourished, however studies show that those who skip breakfast tend to form other poor eating habits, and are more likely to have difficulty loosing or maintaining a healthy weight. Breakfast is also extremely important for those of you who are active in the mornings. Our cortisol levels are highest in the morning, and can be even more so after strenuous exercise, so proper nourishment is crucial at this time, particularly for already-stressed individuals (often the ones to pass on breakfast, unfortunately). Often when we try to fit a lot in before we head out the door, we are quick to let our breakfast game slip in the name of “saving time”. Let this not be the case with these four simple brekky ideas you can pre-prepare and rotate throughout your week (or simply stick to one!). In fact, if you are a chronic breakfast skipper, I want you to commit to breakfast every day this week. After the 7 days, assess your energy levels, digestion and appetite (particularly toward the end of the day). I am confident you will notice positive changes!

Easy Oat Breakfast Muffin

Serves 1

  • 1/2-2/3 cup liquid (water/plant milk or ½ and ½ combo)

  • 1/2 cup oats

  • 1 tbsp protein powder

  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

  • 1 tbsp xylitol

  • ½ banana

  • Small handful berries of choice

  • 1 tsp tahini or almond butter

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • Optional: pinch of sea salt, ½ tsp vanilla, ½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 170 C fan-forced.

Blend all ingredients (except berries and tahini) together in a blender.

Grease a small-medium ramekin with coconut oil.

Scoop out with a spatula and fill the ramekin up halfway. Sprinkle with berries and a drizzle of tahini.

Pile the other half of the batter on top add another berry or two for decoration (optional) and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

If not eating immediately, store in the refrigerator. Make one or several, to keep in the fridge for the week!

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Crunchy Coconut Chia Pudding

Serves 1

  1. Place all dry ingredients into a tupperware or jar and mix to combine.

  2. Pour nut milk and maple syrup in, and stir well.

  3. Cover and allow to soak in the fridge overnight or for several hours (until it forms a pudding-like texture).

  4. Once ready, add fresh fruit and head out the door!

Basic Bircher

Serves 1

  1. Soak all ingredients overnight in a jar or tupperware.

  2. Stir well before consuming. Feel free to add fresh berries and/or cinnamon.

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Sunshine Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 cup coconut water

  • 1 banana

  • ½ cup frozen mango

  • 1 large handful fresh spinach

  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds

  • 2 cm sliced ginger (optional)

  • 2-3 tbsp granola (for serving, optional)

  1. Blend all ingredients together the night before.

  2. Place in a large jar in the fridge, and take with you the following morning.

  3. Sprinkle with granola when consuming, if desired.

Health Foodie Guide to NYC

Many of you may not actually know this, but I used to live in New York. Back then, I was a very different person, excited by very different things (insert martini and dance emoji)! Nevertheless, NYC holds a very special place in my heart for two reasons: firstly, it was my dream to live there and I got to do it with my incredible best friend, so I have 1000s of fond memories made there! Secondly, my brother and his wife (and baby-on-the-way) still live there, so I get to go back often. Now, I have a third reason to add to the list, my oldest brother just got married there… So, you could say the love of NYC runs in the family!

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(My brother and I mins before he walked down the aisle)

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(My brothers wives, my sisters!)

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(The beautiful Bride and Bloom ;))

Which was the reason for my most recent visited… Having not been back since I really changed my life around, this time, I wasn’t looking for exotic cocktail lists or the best NY slice… it was all about the plant-based, healthy dining scene. And let me tell you, what a scene it is! I literally did not have enough meals in the day to keep up with extensive list I had been recommended and had researched. New York is bursting with trendy health hubs! So here is my must-see list that I have compiled, with a few on there that I didn’t quite get to myself (for you locals or those with more time)…

Happy travels!

To Dine in:

Blossom – I was so pleasantly surprised here, we had such an interesting and mouth-watering spread for lunch – vegan caesar salad, mushroom “scallops”, “fish cakes”…

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Avant Garden – upscale but not overly fancy, best to make a reservation. Insane plant-centered meals that make veggies the star of the show!

ABCV or ABC Kitchen – I have been to ABC kitchen previously, but this time had to try their vegetarian version, ABCV. I love the vibe, and the menu was interesting. I only made it to breakfast (I recommend the mango smoothie bowl) but I think lunch would be more impressive!

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The Butcher’s Daughter (below) – go here for those vegan pastrami sandwiches / cheese toasties you likely have to (or want to) skip whilst visiting NYC. This place makes them vegan-ized, healthy and so tasty! The toasty is insane. I also really enjoyed the adzuki bean bacon 🙂

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Inday – this place is literally bowls of heaven! Cute bowsl, cute drinks, cute vibe. Not 100% vegan but tonnes of options! So healthy!

Sun in Bloom – it can be difficult to source savoury plant-based options… this is a great spot for a vegan breakfast/lunch if you are in search of one in Brooklyn. You can have lunch for brekky too, so I tried their collard wrap burrito, definitely add avo! Their tofu scramble was also very tasty. I don’t recommend their acai smoothie though :

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Cafe Clover – I didn’t get here, but my brother recommends it for a nice evening out. Looks really interesting and has a few veg options.

Westville – an old favourite of mine I used to go here a lot, even when I was less health-conscious. I couln’t go past “market plate” whereby you can choose 4 sides and turn it into a divine, veg-filled plate!

Urban Vegan Kitchen – didn’t make it here but looks like my kinda place!

Souen- organic, macrobiotic restaurant that serves up delicious Asian-inspired dishes. Easy, well-priced, bursting with flavour.

Hearth – we had a big family dinner here and they had several vegan options for us! Great for large groups or a night out. Lots of veg!

Double Zero – no need to miss/crave cheese on a pizza when the toppings are this tasty! Cool vibe, would be great for a date night and a drink of vino too.

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On the fly:

Pressed Juicery – not only good for a quick juice fix but also for all fruit soft serve with the best toppings like raw nuts, vegan choc chips, nut butter etc.

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Juice Generation – In Equinox, good for a post-workout juice or smoothie.

Liquiteria – I was a little underwhelmed with their acai just FYI, but its a good go-to if you can’t find anything healthy as there are a few around and you can bet you can get a greens fix!

Sweet Greens – I didn’t get here, but hear it is a salad bar dream!

By Chloe – healthy-ish fast food! Hehe, it makes plant-based eating enticing for the masses. We had an insane creamy green smoothie and a small mac n cheese with mushroom bacon to share… delish!

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Taim – yummy, different flavoured falafel pockets! Great after a busy day shopping in Soho 🙂

Orchard Grocer – Reallllllyyyy wanted to go here. Please tell me if you do! They have vegan cream cheese and lox… need I say more?

Beyond Sushi – all vegan sushi! Exotic & interesting combos for all you plant-based sushi lovers who are perhaps a little over avo and cucumber… amiright?!

Screamers Pizza – Didn’t make it here, but feel like it is a take on NYC slice (whereas Double Zero is a little more “fancy pizza”). Would love to try it!

Erin McKenna’s bakery – all vegan baked treats, missed this one, tell me if you go!

Union Square Markets vegan bakery stall – Ahhh so many options! I got a delicious corn bread scroll at the recommendation of the stall holder, it was yum!

To workout:

Soul Cycle – the vibe here is insane, I hate spin but I loved this class! Wish I could go back for more.

Laughing Lotus – Gorgeous yoga studio with great teachers

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Strala Yoga – Try make a class with Tara! So much fun

Equinox – All your gyming needs 🙂

The Truth Behind Osteoporosis (and some exiting new research on how nutrition and exercise can prevent it!)

Arthritis is a pain, isn’t it? Being a clinical sports physiotherapist one of the regular findings we see in the clinic is people suffering from osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, most people are clueless as to what it is and how it occurs.

There are no more great wife’s tales out there than ones that surround arthritis. Most of the time it usually involves your great gran who did back breaking work their whole life lifting hay bales, and thus has a degenerated spine. Or your uncle (who you never see) who has a dodgy knee from his years dominating local footy.

These stories are generally powerful in that they are emotive and capture our imagination. But they lead to harmful myths such as ‘bending your back is bad’ or that ‘playing sport will always leads to arthritis’. They create misconceptions that can last multiple generations as the story is passed down from one member to the next. However, science is now confirming they are just misconceptions, not reality.

Now before I go on I can hear you yelling saying ‘well my gran has a does have bad back for that very reason!’ To make my argument more convincing, you must remember all the rest. All the rest who did the same hard labour well in to their later years, and have fabulous health and a strong spine. Or all the rest that played footy into their forties and can still run around the tan with no problems.

The better question to ask is if it were general overuse that causes arthritis, why doesn’t everybody have it?

To answer this, we must first understand what arthritis is. The technical way to explain osteoarthritis is degeneration of the surfaces between the joints, leading to pain and difficulty moving.

The non-technical way to explain it is wear and tear. The cartilage is the tissue that helps the bones roll and slide on top of each other. It allows for a smooth glide, but in arthritic cartilage the joint finds it difficult to bend. This can lead to rubbing, swelling, and pain.

Now I am sure we all know someone, or ARE someone, who suffers from osteoarthritis. It can be debilitating at times – with stiff, sore and puffy joints being the hallmark. It stops people doing the things they love, like going for a run through the park or getting on the floor to play with the grandkids, and reduces your quality of life.

In recent years’ science, has gone leaps and bounds into understanding what is happening, with 2 very important papers being released that must be discussed.

The first was a landmark study by Vanwanseele et al 2002. They showed significant thinning of cartilage in people with spinal cord injury. They found that it is actually parts of the cartilage that are NOT being compressed that start to break down. It is because pressure or load, helps to squeeze nutrients into the cartilage to keep it healthy.

It is the opposite to what most people believe. We need healthy load and movement to keep it strong. It is when people stop moving or the joint is in the wrong alignment that we see cartilage degradation. Now being overweight or doing high impact activities without sufficient strength can add to this, so they must be addressed. But staying active and strong are your best weapons.

The second was as recently as May of this year. In this paper titled The role of metabolism in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritisNature Reviews Rheumatology, 2017, the researchers found the biggest single influence on the cartilage was diet and our metabolism.

They found that like everything in our body, the cartilage requires a nutrient dense diet to remain healthy and viable as we age. It stops the cells from breaking down, and as described above they respond positively to loading and stress, which actually keeps it strong and healthy.

Most people are under the impression that arthritis occurs because we have overworked a joint. Therefore, they are under the impression they need to stop moving when they have arthritis. As you can see, this is not the case.

The 3 most important things you can do are if you suffer from arthritis:

  • Eat a nutrient dense diet, full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This will also help to keep you in a healthy weight range
  • Keep moving and gently progressively loading the joint in a minimally painful way. Examples of this are gentle walking, Pilates or swimming
  • Maintaining as much muscular strength around the joint as possible, by doing resistance based exercises

 

Chris Jellis is a physiotherapist and director of Sum Of Us. SUM is a health and wellness studio in Prahran that combines the science of modern physiotherapy and health care, in a nourishing holistic environmentwww.sumofusstudio.com.au 

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