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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

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.

Healthy Cooking Time Savers

After a long day of work or study, crafting a healthy meal may not excite or delight you, but realistically, this is the time we need it most. To restore and replenish. We need to make sure energy levels and stress hormones are well taken care of through a proper, nourishing dinner. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be tricky. I know sometimes my meals seem extravagant, but I truly believe that is because of the variety of vegetables and spices I use, making it super vibrant and colourful. Truly, it’s never too difficult! Before studying nutrition I was no chef. I still am no chef. I am just a nutritionally-minded cook, who breaks all the rules, is very messy, and hates cleaning up. In light of that, let me share some tips and tricks to save you time and ensure that at 7pm you aren’t ordering in or settling for toast or oats 😉

Prep your leafys.

Slice or shave, wash and spin-dry bundles of spinach, rocket, lettuce, purple cabbage (this is my fav one), or pre de-stem kale, and keep in air-tight glass containers in the fridge. I try to rotate my options. That way when you are ready to make a quick lunch/dinner you can grab a handful for the base of your salad. You can also quickly access your greens for smoothies.

Bake your veggies whole.

Walk in the door, throw a whole pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic etc. in the oven on 180 C and let it cook whilst you shower, tend to children, or just simply put your feet up for a few moments. No need to peel or chop (especially if buying organic). Just let it cook for 20 mins – 1 hour (depending on your veg and the size), and either unwind, do some chores or prepare a side salad whilst it cooks.

Have a bunch of grains pre-soaked/cooked.

Soak grains in the fridge in glass tupperware for a few days, so it is at the ready for you to drain, rinse and cook. Soaking can help digestion and absorption of nutrients. I do 1 cup brown rice in one tupperware, 1 cup quinoa in the other. If this is simply ridiculously prepared for you or you don’t feel it necessary, quinoa is a quick 14 mins to cook, soaked or not, so should always be kept on hand for a fast food choice to bulk up your salads!

Spice up your meals!

Having spices on hand is essential to making meals more interesting and nutritious. Turmeric, cumin, curry, chili, cinnamon are my most used. Herbamare is also a great way to intensely flavour meals with no added salt required. You will be surprised how good your whole-cooked veggies, tempeh or boiled grains taste with some of these thrown on and some greens.

Try tempeh.

It is the easiest thing to cook. Honest! Simply slice or chop it up, mince some garlic and fry it in a pan with coconut oil and tamari, 3-4 mins each side. Ready in less than 10! Fast food!

Keep beans on standby.

I know clean-eating involves minimal packaging, but there is no need to cook beans and legumes from scratch (unless of course you wish to!). There is also little evidence to suggest that beans do indeed make you bloated, that could simply just be placebo. So give them a go! They are an easy, substantial addition to any meal. Be sure to drain and rinse them thoroughly to reduce the likelihood of a bad reaction.

Canned or bottled diced tomatoes.

This makes the easiest curry, soup or pasta sauce base! Add it to a pan with some cumin spice, garlic, salt and pepper (at minimum) and you are good to go in 10!

Pre-make a salad dressing on a Sunday.

Salads can take as quick as 15 mins of chopping. 2-3 cups leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, onion, avocado, seeds… Add ½ cup canned beans or legumes to that and you have a decent meal! The only thing sabotaging it is a lack of healthy salad dressing options at the market. Don’t douse your goodness in oil, have a big batch of clean salad dressing made up ready to use for the entire week. Find some easy recipes here.

Settle with a smoothie (late night).

If you get home later, don’t feel guilty about taking the easy route out. A smoothie is an quick and easy meal with minimal washing up and maximal nutrition. Including handfuls of greens is a good way to still get your vitamins and minerals in now that you are replacing a full meal with a liquid alternative. Fibre! My late night smoothie would look something like this: 1 banana, 2-3 cups spinach or other leafy greens of choice, almond milk, 1 tbsp flaxseed, 1 date, 3-4 brazil nuts or walnuts, ½ cup berries or mango (optional). Pinch of nutmeg to induce sleep might also help 🙂

A Day By The Billabong

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Billabong Retreat for a few days for a little reset. Just one hour from the city, Billabong is an incredibly convenient escape for a day or two or even one week. Fortunately, I was there for the meditation program, which really allowed me to tap back into my practice, as I have let it slide recently (I go in and out of phases, yoga is my constant :)).

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I thought it would be a good idea to share what a typical day was like, as I have to say, my expectations were exceeded. It was better than the impression I received from the website – it was pure and blissful and very authentic. The staff there have a genuine enthusiasm not only for health and reconnecting with yourself but for ensuring you have the best experience possible. So let me share with you a day by the Billabong…

Morning:

Optional yoga was at 7am so I would wake up around 6:15am to the sounds of nature outside my balcony and natural light streaming through (the best way to wake up, don’t you think?). We had relaxing music available in the rooms so I would put that on, make a lemon and ginger tea and slowly get ready. No reception made checking my phone impossible, another small luxury.

Class would run from 7-8:00am in the morning, and was a more invigorating flow than the evening, but still available to all-levels and very relaxing. The studio is spacious, light-filled and gorgeous! All mats and yoga equipment were there and set up for you. Basia was a beautiful teacher and I loved the way she intertwined philosophy into our practice.

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Breakfast was straight after at 8am, and was always gluten-free and vegetarian. I of course got the vegan option, which wasn’t hard to do – basically no eggs and avoid the yoghurt. Think coconut milk chia puddings with lemon curd and berries, buckwheat pancakes, almond milk oatmeal with berry coulis and granola and/or roast vegetables.

Breakfast by the billabong with @nastasiamarj Vegan pancakes & lemon mousse chia puddings @billabongretreat @straightup_pr

Next, there was a meditation class at 9am for one hour. We were taught different methods of meditation throughout the few days, and got to try 2-3 each class.

After this, it was time to hit the pool – which was actually a magnesium pool!! Magnesium is great for achy muscles and joints, skin conditions and a general feeling of relaxation. It was very warm when I was there so reading by the pool and taking a few dips was just what I needed.

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Another day I decided to explore, and so I went on a 1.5-2 hour walk around the area. I saw some amazing properties, endless green fields, gorgeous trees and wildlife. Beautiful birds and farm animals and even a goanna up a tree which was the size of me!

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Afternoon:

Lunch time was 12:30pm and was again, another incredibly tasty delight. Many of the guests were not vegetarian and kept gushing about how yummy the food was. I feel like it definitely motivated them to eat healthier and try more meatless meals. This made me so happy! A bunch of different salads such as an avocado Greek salad, beetroot quinoa salad, roast pumpkin with black sesame were paired with dairy-free sauces like tahini, pesto or vegan aioli and often there was a frittata to accompany. I was made a special eggless frittata or loaf to replace, which was absolutely divine! I left very satisfied! There was also live music (guitar and vocals) on one of the days too.

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You can book spa and beauty treatments at Billabong, so I had a 60 minute massage, which was heavenly. I felt a little floaty after!

Afterward, it was back to my book or a wander around the Billabong. There is a gorgeous reading and sitting lounge area if you don’t want to read by the pool.

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They provide afternoon tea too, which was either a raw brownie or some bliss balls!!

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I grabbed one and would then head back to my room to run a bath in the outdoor tub on my balcony (I had the deluxe cabin). It was very private and overlooked the billabong. I stayed in here for over an hour reading with a tea. Bliss!

It's about to go down! Epsom salts, tea, book, outdoor tub with a treetop view..... Tranquil sound effects (ie birds) & more of the view on my Insta-story!! @billabongretreat

Evening:

There was an afternoon yoga class from 3:30-5pm…. A very gentle practice that really wound you down and prepared you for a quiet evening. People would then go shower or continue reading, or even colour-in a mandala (a form of meditation we were taught) before dinnertime at 6pm.

Dinner was either similar to lunch – a plethora of colourful salads and vegetables with a baked loaf – or it was a delicious vegetable curry and dahl dish. And don’t worry, they do provide desert! I had an incredible apple crumble one night and avocado mousse the other 🙂

All the colours of the rainbow - gluten-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan .... @billabongretreat you get me ☺️ ps you gotta check out at my Insta story I saw a gigantic goanna today!!!!!!!

After this, there was a final meditation class for the day, before we would head back to our rooms and get ready for bed. I brought my dry brush with me, and some natural beauty products to have a little spa session of my own. Then, I would curl up in bed, read and fall asleep (very easily) to the frogs. You can imagine after a day like that, that sleep was very peaceful! It was so nice to get to sleep a little earlier than usual – no TV, internet, and social distractions – and I made a commitment to myself to carry this through when I came home!

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Thank you Billabong Retreat for a most restful, tasty, and rejuvenating experience! I will definitely be back. I highly recommend this spot for a quick getaway if you live in Sydney, or an extended stay if you are from afar. As I said, it is extremely authentic and has been curated with health, education and self-love in mind. There were people from all walks of life there and they all left talking about when they would be booking back in. A good sign!

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