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THE SELF-CARE BALANCING ACT: MAKING IT WORK WITH YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE

THE SELF-CARE BALANCING ACT: MAKING IT WORK WITH YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE

This week I am delighted to welcome Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com as my guest blogger! In her post Sheila is exploring the relationship between fitness motivation and self-care. She says herself “I overdid the ‘fitness motivation’ side of the equation for years – I pushed and goaded myself along with guilt until my world collapsed and I discovered the deep unhappiness I’d been avoiding. I learned that fitness burnout is real and can happen to anyone who isn’t careful about keeping an eye on balance.”

Read on to learn Sheila’s own advice on managing this balance…

 

One of the best ways to make sure that you remain healthy in body and in mind, content with your current life, and comfortable at home and at work is to pursue the practice of self-care each day.  While many of the main facets of a basic self-care routine, like getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and eating healthy meals, do not take too much time out of your day, one of the most important parts of self-care can drain a significant portion of the day, making it difficult for busy professionals to truly commit to it.  While exercise needs to last a certain amount of time for you to truly experience its positive effects, there are ways you can make space in your daily life for a workout routine in addition to your wider self-care program.  Here are some steps you can take to balance your self-care habits, exercise, and everything else you do from day to day.

 

PREPARE YOUR MEALS IN ADVANCE 

One of the first ways you can make more time in your day while taking care of yourself is by cooking your own food.  This will enable you to avoid the extra salt, sugar, and preservatives added to packaged, processed, or restaurant meals while giving you the opportunity to include vegetables and whole foods that have vitamins and nutrients you need.

 

However, many people feel like they do not have enough time to go grocery shopping, find a recipe, and then cook each morning or night.  Thanks to recent developments, though, there are several options to help you save time while still having enough time to cook a healthy meal.  Many grocery stores now offer services that will do the shopping for you – all you have to do is drive by the store and load up your pre-bagged groceries.  Some places will even deliver your groceries directly to your doorstep! 

 

Meal delivery services are another way you can save time each day.  Most companies offer recipes and a pre-measured set of ingredients.  Depending on the service, there may be more or less cutting, chopping, and cooking for you to do.  (Some even send food practically premade for when you are particularly short on time.)  Most meal delivery services also offer additional meal categories, with light, low-calorie options.

 

whole food nutrition

 

OPT FOR “SMART” CONVENIENT FOODS  

The good news is you don’t have to cook all your meals to stay healthy and happy.  For example, yogurt and kefir are not only easier choices, they’re also beneficial for your mind and body.  The live cultures found in these foods work to promote a healthier environment for your gut, which is important because your gut influences how other areas of your body work—including your mood levels.  Making smarter choices about convenient foods will contribute to a healthy gut, which will help you feel your best.

 

 

BALANCE YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE WITH CARDIO 

Once you start paying more attention to what you eat, you will be able to really make the most out of your workout routine. The secret to making time for everything in your routine in the course of one day is to stop stressing about adhering strictly to your plan.  For example, while you may have an excellent hour-long workout routine, try balancing that out with quicker cardio exercises on opposite days, giving you an extra half hour for other self-care practices.  Unless you are specifically aiming to bulk up or build significant amounts of muscle, many of the benefits of exercise come from strenuous cardio like running, biking, or swimming.  Scientists say that what is most important is that you manage to get your heart rate a certain percentage higher than usual for twenty to thirty minutes – that will allow your body to be in the best possible shape.

 

benefits of cardio

 

DITCH THE GYM MEMBERSHIP FOR HOME EQUIPMENT 

If you find that going to the gym is just too difficult, you can reap a multitude of benefits with a home gym.  It allows you to get in a workout whenever you have the time, without the need to drive to the gym.  You will also save money in the long run by dropping your gym membership.  You can buy the equipment that best fits your needs instead of relying on standard equipment at the gym.

Depending on the dedicated space for your home gym, you may need to make some modifications, such as changing the flooring, adding more electrical outlets, or installing a pull-up bar or ceiling fan. 

Now matter how busy you get, remember that self-care involves many different aspects beyond simple exercise.  Eating healthy food will help you fuel your workouts and give you energy to tackle even the most difficult tasks.  Finally, they will both help you get a good night’s sleep at the end of the day, helping to keep you healthy and happy in body and in mind.

 

Photo Credits:

Pexels.com 

Pexels.com 

Pixabay.com

 

CBD OIL – SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

CBD OIL – SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

I am thrilled to welcome Sarah Warrington as my guest blogger this week! Sarah is here to share her knowledge about Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is starting to become a popular natural remedy for many common ailments. There has been so much talk about this oil – as always, some more factual and some less! As CBD oil is:

“one of the 104 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa” 

…conversation around it is bound to cause a bit of a stir! However, by looking at the facts we can see the genuine potential this substance has for natural healing – and we can hopefully remove the scaremongering element. So, over to Sarah: read on!

More people than ever before are shifting their opinions about Cannabis, and are choosing CBD to provide natural relief for their medical conditions.

We all know that when trying anything new, there’s always a learning curve, and with CBD, it’s no different.  CBD comes from the hemp plant, is completely natural and does not get you “high”.

THE BASICS

  • CBD doesn’t ‘do’ the work, it signals the body to do the work
  • When we supplement our bodies with cannabinoids and feed our cannabinoid receptors, our Endogenous Cannabinoid System begins to work properly and begins to self-regulate and self-correct
  • CBD supplementation is a completely natural way to help manage stress/anxiety, depression, regulate pain and help improve the quality of sleep.

THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM

Our endocannabinoid system is responsible for nearly every function and process in our body. Just some of the functions regulated by this system include:

  • Moods and emotional responses
  • Stress responses and anxiety
  • Metabolism and energy
  • Neuroprotection and muscle movement
  • Memory and learning
  • Sleep cycles
  • Reproductive function
  • Pain perception and inflammation
  • Cardiovascular function

The endocannabinoids within your body are produced as needed and are quickly broken down by enzymes. The exogenous cannabinoids from CBD however are stronger and longer lasting.

Because your endocannabinoid system is crucial to so many vital functions, some researchers are suggesting that many health concerns could be the result of imbalances within this system. This theory could explain why the research into supplementing the system with CBD is showing so many potential benefits.

Research shows that CBD has the potential to alleviate pain, improve sleep, reduce inflammation, and improve the symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders, including bipolar affective disorder. While the study of the endocannabinoid system is relatively new, the results have been quite fascinating.

 

CBD oil

HISTORY

In 1988, the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered in the brain of a rat. Researchers found that these receptors reacted specifically to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and were primarily found in regions of the brain responsible for mental and physiological processes such as memory, high cognition, emotion, and motor coordination.

Two years later, in 1993, the second cannabinoid receptor was found as part of the immune and central nervous systems. It was then that researchers started to realise that they may have been onto something, but believing these receptors were only found in rodents, felt it was no big deal…right?

Fast forward to 1995, researchers discovered that these receptors, now officially referred to as the CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor, were found not only in rats, but within thousands of other species, including humans.

Thanks to advancements in technology and knowledge plus tons of clinical trials, researchers were able to reverse engineer what they’d discovered. They traced back through the metabolic pathways of various cannabinoids, and uncovered an entirely unknown signalling system between the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our bodies and receptors found in Cannabis compounds, which they called “endocannabinoids.”

Due to the role of endocannabinoids in this system, the system was officially named the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

In order to discover the Purest CBD oils on the market there are various considerations. The oils must be:

  • 100% organic.
  • NON GMO.
  • pesticide free.
  • full spectrum, (which means the whole plant is used).
  • including the legal amount of THC ( Europe’s legal amount is 0.2%).
  • CO2 extracted (for purity and quality).
  • mixed with a Sunflower carrier, which contains lectins, and aids absorption in to the body.
  • government Lab tested.
  • approved by the European and UK cannabis associations.

 

CBD oil is a life changer

 

MY STORY 

I’d been looking for a decent CBD oil since it became legal in the UK. I have suffered with stress and depression for some time and heard CBD is great to manage this. I struggled to find a brand that I felt happy with, but Maxx4 caught my attention from the moment I saw their website. They are a really ethical organic company and their CBD oil is a member of the UK and European Cannabis Trades Association  (CTA) which really reassured me. 
Maxx4 products are designed to offer the full potential of the hemp plant. They are “full spectrum”, made from full plant materials and RAW.  100% organic, vegan, lab tested and have the sunflower oil as a carrier. In particular, they make every effort to preserve the natural terpene content of the plant.
Unlike other brands that often weaken the finished product by attempting to mask the natural flavour of the hemp plant, Maxx4 does no such thing. I love that about them. To me, it’s not about how the oil tastes, its about keeping the finished product as potent as possible, therefore as useful to my needs as possible.  With in a week of taking the oil I was feeling happier and less stressed. I have 3 children, two teenagers and a 10 year old.  They noticed the difference: I actually sing in the car!! And I am more patient with them.  
I decided to become a supplier of Maxx4 products in October last year, and since then have helped over 200 people with various health issues.  I no longer take anti-depressants: after 30 years CBD is my only natural drug. I have many ex-army guys with PDST taking the oil, and only this week one came to thank me, saying it’s the first time he has felt himself – and that is after 3 months off all medication!
The company have a Facebook group with over 3000 customers on it, each telling their incredible stories. Please do visit the website here,  or the Facebook page here. Alternatively you can email me swarrington1@btinternet.com. If you are interested please do get in touch: I truly want to help.
MY GUILTY SECRET – MATCHA LOVE!

MY GUILTY SECRET – MATCHA LOVE!

 

 

Ok, so most of you will know how I love my coffee & how easily my intake can go waaay over what it should if I’m not mindful of it – but where did this matcha love come from?! My advice to clients who are trying to cut down on coffee is often to try to find an alternative hot drink. In the past that would have been hot water & lemon first thing in the day, or perhaps herbal teas later on, but now things have changed: move in matcha!

This bright green, traditional Japanese health drink has become my latest love in the kitchen. From its fabulous green colour (green being another of my loves), to the endless goodness it provides, to the ritual of making it – it’s a win-win! Both the Chinese & the Japanese have been drinking matcha for centuries (they also use it in cakes, desserts, & infuse it into creams, but that’s another story for another time…)

 

WHAT IS MATCHA?

  • Matcha is a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. The leaves are laid out to dry, then they are de-stemmed, de-veined and stone ground to become the characteristic bright green powder that is matcha. More specifically:

matcha preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before they’re harvested. This triggers the growth of leaves with better flavor and texture, which are hand selected, steamed briefly to stop fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder”

  • The powder can be made into a simple hot matcha drink (by whisking the powder into water that is approximately 70 degrees centigrade). Other alternatives are matcha latte or iced matcha, or if you want to be a little more adventurous a matcha smoothie or a matcha milk shake!

 

WHY IS IT GOOD FOR US?

  • Matcha is a high quality tea made from “tencha” which in itself comes from the Camellia Sinensis tea bush. (It should however be noted that now that matcha is so very fashionable sadly not all matchas will match this high quality).
  • With other green teas components from the leaves are “steeped” – that is they are left to infuse in hot water to release both the flavour and the nutrients. With matcha, you actually ingest the whole leaf (see above) so you are getting a much more potent ‘punch’ of all the nutrients.
  • Matcha is packed with antioxidants, and especially with polyphenols which have been linked with many positive health benefits (amongst other things polyphenols are believed to combat inflammation, which is the source of so many health issues today).

 

matcha drink alternatives

 

 

GREEN TEA & CAFFEINE…

I’d like to believe we are all aware of keeping an eye on caffeine intake – and of why we should. Matcha does contain caffeine, so it is not a caffeine-free alternative. In fact, because you are ingesting the whole leaf rather than the steeped residue caffeine levels are higher than green “teabag” tea. However, matcha fans will tell you that the caffeine ‘hit’ from matcha is quite different. It is described as a:

“clean, calm and focused energy boost”

…which lacks the jittery-ness and the spikes and crashes of a coffee-based pick-me-up. It’s a similar comparison to the effects of “good” and “bad” carbs. A slower, more prolonged boost, as opposed to a quick ‘high’ and equally quick crash. Hence, the fans insist, whereas coffee will make you “wired”, matcha will gently ease you into increased focus and ‘cradle’ you whilst you are there…

 

MY MATCHA LOVE

There are many things about this drink that I personally love. It has a somewhat bitter after taste which sort of resembles the after taste of coffee. If I “latte it” with my beloved frothy milk on the top it feels like a treat which is more than comparable to my frothy coffee. On top of that I have to confess it’s the ritual that I love. If you make your latte the traditional Japanese way the whole experience becomes much more mindful – almost meditative – (and that in itself will increase our awareness of how much we are drinking).

 

 

So what are my own ‘must haves’ for my matcha love? Here goes: 

  1. a quiet 5 minutes to enjoy the actual process of making it
  2. a bamboo scoop and whisk to make the matcha in the traditional Japanese way
  3. a bowl as opposed to a cup
  4. frothy milk (personally I prefer latte to plain…)
  5. a quiet 5 (or 10!) minutes to enjoy the results…

 

matcha ritual with bamboo scoop and bamboo whisk

 

So if you have yet to jump on the matcha bandwagon then why not go ahead and give it a go? There are undoubtedly many actual health benefits, but as I say, for me it’s more than that. The whole process and the slightly ritualistic quality of creating this drink makes my matcha love more mindful, so that my afternoon drink becomes a part of my stress management and self care (as opposed to a jittery coffee-based ggrrrrr!)

 

WELLNESS ON HOLIDAY…

WELLNESS ON HOLIDAY…

This week I am thrilled to welcome back the lovely Emma Richings of Travel Counsellors as my guest blogger. Emma has written for me in the past, when she explored tips for a stress free holiday. This time around she is giving her advice on a wonderful range of fab holidays that in themselves promote wellness – (do make sure you read to the end for the opportunity to win Emma’s fab GIVEWAY…)

 

It’s no wonder with the stresses of modern day living that the demand for wellness holidays is on the increase. A wellness break can address multiple issues. Aside of stress it can assist with sleep, dealing with hormonal imbalances, diet and exercise. Whether you’re facing emotional or physical challenges it allows for healing away from the daily demands of your busy life.

 

Furthermore, connecting with people is key to our mental health. A holiday allows time to reconnect with loved ones, friends and family. It also allows an opportunity to meet new people and build relationships.

 

Wellness holidays can take many different guises and encompass various options. The number of destinations to offer this type of holiday has grown exponentially, so there are now options available throughout the world.

 

Taking responsibility for your health is one of the best investments we can make in ourselves, so what are you waiting for?

 

YOGA & MEDITATION

Perhaps the most well-known type of wellness holiday, a yoga retreat allows you to explore the spiritual side linked to meditation. Combining a healthy diet, along with yoga and meditation and perhaps treatments in the spa, allows you to relax and restore calm to your body and mind. Whether you would like to try yoga for the first time or you have been practising for years, there’s an option for you. Choose a luxury spa hotel with yoga programmes or a specific yoga retreat there are so many options around the world.

 

 

BACK TO NATURE

Spending time in green spaces is great for mental wellbeing. These areas are becoming less and less accessible, especially to those living in cities. Being in nature improves creativity and problem solving. It can help with depression and reduce anxiety. So what better way than getting back to nature and embracing the great outdoors. There’s some fantastic scenery to explore in Europe. Whether you’re looking for gentle strolls, exhilarating hikes or perhaps cycling there are lots of options available. Or closer to home, how about a specially designed holiday visiting gardens?

 

 

 

 

 

 

BE ACTIVE 

We probably all know that exercise helps with concentration, memory, learning and creativity. Physical activity releases endorphins which helps boost our mood. However all too often it’s difficult to incorporate in to our daily routine. More and more people no longer want to fly and flop, but wish to include something active in their holiday. From transformative retreats that include personal training sessions and energising outdoor activities, along with a bespoke nutrition plan to holidays including sports on land and in the water or perhaps just a hotel that offers a state of the art gym it’s really possible to travel to most places and be active. If you can drag yourself away from the sunbed and cocktails of course!

 

INDULGE IN A PASSION / LEARN SOMETHING NEW

It’s positive for your well-being to do something that makes you feel good. You may not have time to dedicate to this in everyday life, so a holiday dedicated to your passion is fantastic for your wellness. Learning a new skill can offer a sense of achievement and sometimes confidence too. You might not have found the thing you enjoy yet, so it’s a great opportunity to dedicate some time to trying. There are a range of holidays available dedicated to special interest such as art, cookery, photography, golf and music to name a few.

 

GIVEAWAY… 

Win a £100 voucher to use against your next wellness holiday (T&C’s apply)…

 

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is subscribe to my mailing list to receive information regarding news and offers. Email emma.richings@travelcounsellors.com with your full name, email address and phone number. The winner will be chosen at random and notified 31 May 2019. Do click on the video below to hear Emma tell you a little more about this…

 

 

MY TOP TIPS FOR A GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP!

MY TOP TIPS FOR A GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP!

Creating a bedtime routine can be incredibly powerful. We know all about doing this for our kids, why shouldn’t it work for us too? Establishing a peaceful atmosphere can help induce relaxation, and a regular and calming routine can send powerful message to the brain that it is time to unwind and switch off from the day’s happenings.

 

As someone who once experienced horrendous sleep problems, I had to work hard to discover the routine that worked best for me. So here are the habits I’ve established – and I truly know how effective these can be…

 

MY TOP TIPS 

1. No screens for AT LEAST 1 hour before bedtime. This one is all about melatonin production & how we can utilise understanding of this to enhance our sleep.

2. Consider alternatives to TV as a pre-bed activity. Although some TV can be a great switch off, it is sometimes over-stimulating. Reading a book, listening to a podcast or simply listening to music are all options which may be more relaxing.

3. Enjoy a warm drink. My preference would be a cup of chamomile tea. For some warm milk does the trick (it contains both tryptophan and melatonin) but for some it can have the opposite effect: try it out yourself before making the decision.

 

relaxing chamomile tea

 

4. Avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, but do consider something calming such as yoga, with its emphasis on calming and relaxing.

5. Even if you don’t want to do a full yoga workout, I thoroughly believe in the benefits of a few yoga stretches before bed. Although we may think we’ve become physically relaxed during our evening, we usually tend to sit in one position – whether watching TV or reading a book – for some time. We then get into bed & lie pretty much in one position for many hours, and this combination can lead to waking stiff and achey. Instead, try a few gentle mobilisation exercises such as some shoulder rolls, a Pilates roll down, and a yoga cat stretch before getting in to bed to ease out sore muscles.

6. Make your cleansing routine – however simple or complex it may be – a calming ritual. Think of massaging the skin as you remove make up, take in the scents of your products & focus on your breathing throughout. I would add here that it’s worth thinking about the products you use near to bedtime. Using natural products containing essential oils can aid relaxation and sleep.

7. A quick spritz around your bed or over your pillow with an essential oil based Pillow Mist will leave a waft of lavender or whatever your chosen scent may be, and can be a fabulous way to induce sleep

8. If you have difficulty sleeping, a few drops of cedarwood essential oil on the soles of your feet can work wonders for insomnia.

9. All the many benefits of essential oils can be enjoyed best by using a diffuser, and it is my own absolute preferred bedtime soother. Choose your favourite from the many scents that can aid relaxation: lavender, frankincense, cedarwood, marjoram, chamomile, vetiver…

 

FRANKINCENSE

 

10. If with all of this you are still struggling to sleep, or if thoughts are still racing around in your head, try Belly Breathing whilst focusing on relaxing the body rather than on sleep, until you drift to the land of dreams…

RELAXING FOODS

RELAXING FOODS

This week I am thrilled to be sharing a post by Emily Fawell of 4wellpeople. Emily is a friend & colleague, whose work as a Nutritional Therapist I greatly admire. In this post she gives some simple, practicable ideas on how best to use our nutrition as an aid to relaxation…

Relaxing foods are precious resources for all of us leading hectic lives. Every day, we rush from a demanding job and family life, to a full-on social life, giving little thought to our body’s desire to relax.

 

If you find it hard to wind down after a demanding day, or need to introduce a little extra calmness into your weekend, then try adding the following relaxing foods into your diet…

 

OATS

Oats have many health benefits: they contain beta-glucans which support the immune system, and lower cholesterol; they are packed full of fibre which means that they release their energy slowly, which means more sustained energy levels; and they are an excellent source of selenium which is a powerful antioxidant and an important mineral for thyroid function. In addition to all this, they also contain good levels of tryptophan which promotes good mood and sleep.

 

LETTUCE

Remember Beatrix Potter’s Flopsy Bunnies?  They ate so much prized lettuce that Farmer McGregor was able to pick them up and pop them in his sack, to take them home for the pot. The milky sap that oozes from lettuce when it is cut contains the chemical Lactucarium, a sedative and pain reliever, structurally similar to opium, but not nearly as strong. In some cultures, lettuce is served at the end of an evening meal because of its soporific qualities.

MAGNESIUM RICH FOODS

Magnesium is a mineral which is vital for nerve function, and a common sign of deficiency is muscle twitching and restless legs. We use up large quantities of Magnesium when we are stressed or exhausted, and a twitching eyelid is often a sign that we are doing too much. To boost your magnesium intake eat

  • plenty of nuts,
  • seeds
  • and dark green leafy vegetables such as
  • spinach,
  • chard,
  • broccoli,
  • cucumbers
  • and green beans.

Another relaxing way to increase your magnesium levels is to take a bath in Epsom Salts.

 

DARK CHOCOLATE

Dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants, and as a result is good for heart health and the immune system. But it also has other benefits – it can lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and it stimulates your brain to produce opioids which make you feel good.

Make sure you choose a good quality dark chocolate, the higher the cocoa content, the better – at least 70%.

 

MILK AND OTHER DAIRY PRODUCTS

Calcium, the mineral which is found in milk and dairy products has a sedative effect on the body. This explains why many of us were given milky drinks at bedtime. Dairy products are also high in tryptophan, which the body converts into serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter – good levels of which are needed for sufficient melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

 

GREEN TEA

If you feel stressed out during the day try replacing regular tea with Green tea. Green tea has higher levels of a chemical called L-Theanine than other teas. L-Theanine promotes a state of relaxation in the brain. It does, however, contain some caffeine (less than regular tea or coffee) so if you are caffeine sensitive you could try a decaffeinated Green tea.

 

CHAMOMILE TEA

Chamomile is renowned for its calming properties and is a great tea to take in the evening before bedtime. Its relaxing benefits are due to high levels of a chemical called apigenin, which in clinical trials has been proven to reduce anxiety.

 

 

So why not try adding a few of these relaxing foods and drinks to your diet and see if you can induce a greater sense of calm?

 

 

If you have enjoyed this blog post, why not learn more about nutritional therapy and how it could help you if you are worried about your anxiety levels.

If you think you might benefit from some support, please call Emily Fawell, on 07967 639347 for a free 15-minute consultation or email emily@4wellpeople.co.uk.

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