nutrition, Uncategorized, wellness

Are you tired of your weight rollercoaster?

I am a fighter.  For 9 years I have worked hard to stay within a weight band that is optimum for my fighting.  That number on the scale has meant everything.  Partially, in my mindset, an indicator of my “success”.  However, I want to share with you an experience that proved for me that whatever I thought it was an indicator of, it isn’t an indicator of what is on the inside of me or my state of health, however “slim” I thought I looked.

My weight nowadays generally sits at about 52 kilos. Pre-pregnancy and babies I used to sit at around 50 kilos.  Do you know why?  Because I used to relate my positive body image to no more than 8 stones on the scales.  Nothing to do with my health or feelings of energy and vitality.  It was just a number I related to my body image at a particular time in my life where I felt good.  Every time I have dropped under 52 kilos for a fight camp since having my babies, I have piled the weight back on almost immediately after fight camp has finished.  Because my body has been deprived of what it needs and the consequence of this has been cravings and binge eating, and after 6-8 weeks eating clean and restricting my calories, eating badly and over-eating makes me feel like shit, and so the cycle starts again.

Have you found yourself on a similar rollercoaster?

A few months ago I got the opportunity to fight for a title at 48.9 kilos.  I wasn’t worried because I have dropped to this weight before.  I knew I could do it and about a kilo of it would be just water weight anyway.  The difference this time was that for the last 12 months I have been on an incredible journey.  A personalised journey to find out what my body needs in terms of macro and micro nutrients.  I have been feeling awesome, better than ever before actually.  My energy has been off the charts.  Some of the health issues I have suffered for years just went away and I saw muscle on my body I have literally never seen before, in spite of training at high intensity 6 days a week for as long as I could remember!  It was like this layer of ‘puppy fat’ that I had always had and always felt subconscious about had just magically melted away. I looked lean and I looked strong.

Right before I began my weight cut this time I got on my Smart Scales and looked at my body composition.  I looked at my muscle mass, my visceral fat and my body fat. Everything was in good, healthy ranges for me.  I looked at my resting metabolism, i.e what my body needs to survive in calories, so I could add on my calories burned through exercise and movement through the day.  I felt in control.  I felt good and I looked good!  I had a diet I could follow and feel confident was providing my body with what it needs!  And I no longer had all those annoying cravings that drove me  to make stupid decisions.  In fact, I was eating more than ever and adding on no weight at all. My metabolism was on fire.

Faced with the challenge to lose weight fast though, I made a terrible decision.  I made the decision to go away from everything I had learned in my journey to personalise my diet to my body’s actual needs to what I knew would move weight, fast.  Cutting carbohydrates.  I want to share with you the results of this and share with you the lessons I learned, the hard way.

In a couple of months I lost 2 kilos.

This was my aim – 250 grams a week – comfortable, safe weight loss.  However, a couple of weeks in, my training got really hard.  I felt my muscles screaming at me during training sessions and I felt fatigued after them.  I felt fatigued in general!  And my tummy was completely messed up.  Without being completely ‘TMI’, it felt like I had the runs every day, and it was horrible.  And I looked terrible.  A friend actually reached out to me by messenger and asked me if everything was OK!  I felt rubbish.

4 weeks before my fight I decided to pull the pin.  Well, to be more accurate a doctor signed me off and told me I would be stupid to try and cut any more weight and over-exert myself when my body clearly wasn’t holding onto and benefiting from what I was putting in it already.  At this point I had also found blood in my stools and I was chronically fatigued.

So what was going on?

I got back on my smart scales and found I had lost a whopping 600g in muscle mass. My resting metabolism had dropped by a couple of hundred calories. My body fat percentage hadn’t moved at all. From this information alone I could see that all I’d done with dumping carbohydrates and creating a calorie deficit was tell my body it had to go into survival mode and preserve fat and sacrifice muscle. A number of the other side effects would have followed on from here. Others perhaps not, but this was enough information for me to commit to sharing the new way I had found, the better way, to lose weight and keep that weight off sustainably.

For 8 months previous to my awful decision I had been following a diet personalised to my genetic makeup.

75% of generic diets FAIL. That means that 75% of people on a diet that has not been personalised to their actual needs will FAIL. You might see an initial weight drop like me, then it will plateau. You’ll give up, or reach the end of your target time on the diet and all the weight will go back on. You will have lost muscle and affected your metabolism in a bad way, and this yo yo dieting will put pressure on your blood sugar balance, mess with your hormones, mess with your self-esteem and energy levels and who knows what other damage on the inside of you.

To refresh my health after I dropped my title fight, I took up a mostly plant-based diet, went back to my recommended macros and saw my energy quickly FLY. I realised I could satisfy my body’s needs for high carbohydrates with a mix of plant-based foods over traditional breads, wraps and rolls AND eat in a way my body found easy to digest. I cannot tell you how good this has felt.

There are 2 tools you need to personalise your weight loss journey like this and I would love to be able to share them with you. They are what have me now at a place where my energy is high, my mood is good, my blood pressure is normal and my weight is back at a healthy number. Not that I believe this number means much at all now! It’s what’s on the inside, how we feel and how we are eating, moving and living in favour of our long term health.

To find out how you can get insight like this on your own body to meet your weight and health goals, click here.

Or come and join me at my local event week, Nov 11th – Summer Refresh in Tauranga!

If you have enjoyed this blog and are ready to make a change; this event is definitely is for you! Check out the event on Facebook here

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anxiety, mindset, nutrition, Uncategorized, wellness

Secrets from the World’s Top 5 Wellness Retreats

I recently led a 5 Day Self-Love Challenge in my private Facebook Group.

I felt that between my booming business, my energetic children and their social schedules, and my intensive Muay Thai training, my Self Care was lacking a bit!

Life gets like that sometimes, right?

Maintenance (or even achievement in the first place) of peace and balance is tricky and so the things that make us feel good and relaxed, that make us slow down, that make us exhale, that help us clear out our negative energy and revitalise get sacrificed.  We eat on the run, healthy diet choices slip down the priority list and we find ourselves indulging in a glass of wine, rather than a meditation to relax!

This is where luxury Wellness Retreats are cashing in.  They offer us the chance to take charge of our health with imposed self care, dedicated support and the promise of transformed health and connection to inner feelings and a new perspective.

So what can we learn from the world’s top wellness retreats?

I did some research on the leading Wellness Retreats across the world and the types of programmes you can enjoy by booking in.  Read on to discover:

  • The Healthy Ageing Women Retreat in Spain
  • The BodyScience Retreat in St Lucia
  • The Shanti Sleep Retreat in Mauritius
  • The LeFay Detoxification Retreat in Italy
  • And the Ananda Yoga and Meditation Retreat in the Himalayas

Have you ever been on a Retreat?

(Keep reading for 8 Alternatives to a Retreat for improved wellness….)

My sister-in-law just came back from a weekend one right here in New Zealand and she described feeling a million dollars at the end of the weekend.  She connected with like-minded women, she released unprocessed emotion and ate healthily and existed in peace across a weekend of what sounds like pure bliss.

So why aren’t we replicating this “bliss” in our daily lives?

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The reality is that modern day life is fast pace, high stress, highly toxic and monumentally processed.

In consequence, the progression and severity of “lifestyle” diseases is set to continue at an alarming rate. Figures for diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases and more are SOARING and 80% of healthcare spending across the world is acute to take care of us once we have fallen ill.  It is our ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, so to speak.

And yet, only 10% of our wellness across our lifetime can be attributed to the HEALTHCARE we get.

Think about that for a minute.  Everywhere you look there are hospitals, doctors surgeries, people on waiting lists, people in treatment and for the majority the primary focus of their own healthcare is to seek out the advice of the medical profession when acute symptoms arise.

But across the span of our life only 10% of this acute care can be attributed to us being alive and well?

Basically, yes.  It is our genetics (30%) and our behaviour and environment, including nutrition (60%) that plays a bigger part in the outcomes we get.  Our genetics are a set piece, of course, but how we affect our genes with nutrition and our lifestyle can be attributed a whopping 60% to the wellness we experience across the span of our lives.

With that in mind, is a 5-7 day retreat enough to pick up the slack of this monumental responsibility our nutrition and lifestyle plays in keeping us well?

Do we learn enough, recover enough and change our habits enough in 5-7 days to make the investment in our health through a retreat worth it?

What value do you place on your health? 

Image result for Yoga & Meditation at at Ananda in the Himalayas

 

At the Ananda Retreat in the Himalayas you’ll pay an average US$4000 per person to rejuvenate the mind and body across 5 days; increasing clarity, relieving stress and anxiety, and potentially strengthening your immune system.

As you relax in the beautiful setting, your heart rate will slow down, your blood pressure will lower and the focus on breath will flood your system with oxygen.  It is these vital signs that are the first things a doctor checks when we wind up in hospital unwell because they give such a great indication of our body’s state, and combined together can give a picture of the threat to our health.

Do we notice these silent whispers as we go about our busy daily lives?

Our bodies have their own natural balance that is individual to each of us (your blood pressure and heart rate won’t be the same as the person next to you and we all have varying levels of insulin receptivity.)  It is these vital signs that change as we respond to stress, lack of sleep, bad diet, and lack of exercise.

When in optimal balance (maybe the imagined state of the “om” as we sit in focused meditation?) our bodies can fight off illness naturally.  It’s getting out of balance that can lead to serious consequences, including disease and a shorter lifespan. And this is a process that happens over time, not overnight.  Our lifestyle and attitude has a lot to do with this slip of balance.

To go deeper… our Mitochondria, the powerhouses of our bodies, are able to function optimally when we are in balance.  Mitochondria are part of the energy production work of our cells — our muscle cells, our brain cells — everything needs energy to function optimally, so even a minor impairment of mitochondrial function can have dramatic systemic ramifications.

The energy originally comes from the food that we eat: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Inside our stomach and intestines, enzymes break down our food into small molecules like glucose and pass them to the cells around our bodies. Inside our cells, these molecules pass into our Mitochondria where they extract energy from the molecules so that our cells can use it.

This is done by burning the molecules; reacting them with oxygen. About 95 percent of the oxygen that we breathe goes to our Mitochondria, and when we burn the molecules with oxygen, the energy that is released is trapped in a currency that cells can use (for example, to contract a muscle) and this energy currency is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

Mitochondria are essential for keeping cells alive. If we deprive the brain or heart of oxygen, like in a stroke or a heart attack, a major cause of damage is that oxygen is no longer going to the Mitochondria. When there’s a lack of oxygen in Mitochondria, they stop working, and the cells die. A growing body of research is implicating mitochondrial dysfunction as a root cause in a wide spectrum of metabolic, lifestyle and degenerative diseases including: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalgia and potentially many more.  These Mitochondria are essential to our human survival at the most basic level, but they are seriously suffering in our modern environment.

So, as our vital signs slip – our oxygen sats drop, for example – our risk factors for chronic diseases increase and accrue.

71% of the diseases that are killing us annually are within our scope of “control” to avoid.  Cardiovascular disease is at the top of this list.  The heart has high energy demands and 35% of the volume of cardiac muscles cells is taken up by mitochondria.

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At the Lefay Resort & SPA, Lago di Garda, Italy, you can detox your heart out for US$3000… 

 

It’s true, our ancient Mitochondria simply cannot cope with the amount of environmental toxins our bodies face off against on a daily basis – from the food we eat,  the medicines we take, the air we breathe, and the chemicals we apply on our body. The lack of quality nutrients in the modern processed diet also challenges our Mitochondria, reducing their function and increasing Mitochondrial damage.

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Unhealthy lifestyle habits, bad diet and ‘toxic load’ show up as raised blood pressure, imbalanced blood sugar and weight gain.  We don’t seem to have the time to notice these clues as we are rushing through life, but is a 5 day Detoxification Retreat enough to cleanse your body of all that challenges it?

One of the best ways to improve Mitochondrial health is through sustained dietary changes.  On a positive note you’ll get a nutritional consultation and prescription of special diet as part of your stay at LeFay.

Nutrition is the foundation and basis of good health.

The appropriate diet for you can assist in the prevention of many common 21st century chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.  We essentially pass what we eat to our Mitochondria, so they can make ATP. Having too many nutrients—too much fat, too many carbohydrates or protein coming in—causes extensive damage to the cell and the Mitochondria itself.

What’s for sure though is that the more we know about our body, the more empowered we are to ACT.

sleepSleep at Shanti Maurice (Mauritius)

Sleep is another really important factor for health, and in 2013 (the last year measured by Gallup), the average American slept 6.8 hours a night—with 40 percent banking less than six hours.  New research reveals that children who fall short by just one hour per night have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes!

To understand how much is enough sleep to allow our bodies to rejuvenate, refresh and function at our best, watch this video.  Sleep influences how we think, eat, concentrate and it affects our mood, hormones and immune system.  Getting adequate sleep limits unhealthy food cravings, improves low mood and fatigue, and helps us to avoid chronic diseases!

So how do we discover what nutrition is right for us?

Image result for BodyScience at BodyHoliday (St Lucia)BodyScience at BodyHoliday, (St Lucia) offers DNA testing, comprehensive body analysis and a tailor-made wellness plan using your unique genetic information.

I am a MASSIVE fan of this type of Personalised Wellness.  For me, the discovery of my ideal macronutrient composition and exercise ratio (between strength and endurance) has been life-changing.  My physique has completely changed and I have reversed auto-immune disease. I am also no longer intolerant to certain foods and at the best weight and health of my life!  I’m also confident I’m supplementing what I need to at the right doses and nothing over and above, or lacking.  My energy has been significantly boosted, my body is able to work at its optimum and even my mind feels healthier.

BodyScience at BodyHoliday will set you back US$6000 for a 5 day trip.  Find out how I maintain the same outcomes for just US$3/day here.

Image result for Healthy Ageing Women at SHA Wellness Clinic (Spain)Finally, we have the Healthy Ageing Women Retreat at the SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain. This retreat will set you back US$10k and promises to take away your fear of ageing, as well as provide support to adjust with the changes in your body to preserve youthfulness and vitality. 

But, what makes us age?

In a study of more than 2,000 women, those who had the lowest vitamin D levels showed the greatest signs of biological ageing.

The most reliable measures of a person’s age are telomeres; the lengths of the genetic material that cap the free ends of DNA in a cell.  With age, the telomeres shorten and the DNA becomes more unstable until eventually the cell dies.  The study found that those with the highest vitamin levels had significantly longer telomeres – equivalent to 5 years of normal ageing.

Vitamin D has also been shown to have a positive effect on age-related diseases, like heart disease and cancer.

So what else can extend your life? Exercise has been proven to lengthen telomeres (so I should be alright!) and some cells have the ability to reverse telomere shortening by expressing telomerase.  Telomerase is an enzyme that extends the telomeres of chromosomes. Meditation has been shown to increase telomerase.

So what is it going to be?  An ambulance at the bottom of the cliff to take you to your much needed/deserved wellness retreat or some much needed, really simple lifestyle changes personalised to you?

Here are a few facts to help you make your decision…

  • Doctors don’t have time for us
  • Chronic diseases that we can control are killing us
  • Guessing what diet or exercise plan is right for us costs time, money and a lot of frustration
  • Our bodies metabolise differently depending on our genotype
  • Understanding our genetic blueprint can help us identify how our body will respond to different diets – whether protein will increase muscle tone, whether low carb will affect hormones or blood sugar negatively, for example
  • If we eat to our genetic metabolism we shouldn’t need to diet and struggle with willpower/hunger.  We can target food choices better, improve our eating habits, eat in the right portions and stick consistently to a habit that is going to serve us for a lifetime
  • Getting your diet right can help your body get back into a natural state of balance, improve your immune system (80% of the immune system is in our gut) and avoid chronic disease
  • A few tweaks in mindset can help you give yourself the self care you deserve and time management skills that serve your stress levels and anxiety.

8 Alternatives to a Wellness Retreat

  • Unprocess your diet
    • Go back to wholefoods and if you have to eat processed food, stick to foods with less than 5 ingredients that your grandma would recognize!  This will help prevent the need for detox.
  • Go chemical free
    • Use essential oils to replace chemical cleaners, perfumes and skincare over things our body doesn’t know how to process.  This will support mitochondrial health!  (Don’t forget EMFs)
  • Consider this
    • Our genes naturally have spelling mistakes that predispose us to certain health problems, but our lifestyle and environmental factors pull the trigger.  We can literally avoid activating faulty genes.  It’s called Epigenetics.
  • Hydration
    • Get at least 8 glasses of water a day.  Consider downloading an app that can remind you when to drink and how much.
  • Breathing
    • Many people do not breathe very well, especially people who have suffered chronic stress.  This can have negative health effects.  Go deeper at this blog…
  • Investigate Intermittent fasting
    • Eat food in a 12 hour window – it’s good for our brain and body!
  • Eat lots of colours for phytonutrients
    • Eat at least 4 portions of vegetables a day and make sure they are colourful
  • Consider tracking your blood sugar
    • How our body responds to sugar is significantly important to our long-term health. Blood Sugar levels are integral to weight loss and a factor in over 100 diseases!  It’s important to note the distinction that blood sugar problems are the symptom of T2 diabetes, not the cause.  The cause is insulin resistance that builds over years.