Optimum health depends on the food you eat being digested and nutrients being absorbed properly. It also depends on waste and toxins being continuously moved out through your bowels.
80% of our immune system is in the digestive system too, so proper immune function also depends on everything working properly.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea, constipation, wind, bloating, diverticulosis, and other inflammatory bowel or auto immune conditions are all caused by a digestive and/or bowel system working at a less than optimal level.
Lack of sleep, stress, a poor diet, too much or not enough exercise, medications (including over the counter) are some of the factors that cause your digestive system to become faulty.
What can you do to help? Follow these simple steps to improve your digestive health, but if symptoms persist, see you health professional:
Stop taking unnecessary medications. Some people are popping anti-inflammatories, paracetamol and other drugs like they’re lollies. If you’re taking them on medical advice, make sure you keep seeing your professional health care provider and check if you should still be taking them.
Drink more water which as a bonus will help with your fat loss if that is one of your goals
Try L-glutmine which is an inexpensive amino acid which nourishes and helps to repair the intestinal mucosa. It benefits the immune system as well and helps with nutrient absorption. Taken dissolved in a little water on an empty stomach ( I have it first thing in the morning) is the best way to get the best results.
Increase fibre by eating more fibrous vegetables and a little fruit. And guess what, also has the side effect of helping with fat loss.
Get more sleep. This is sometimes not possible, but do you really need to sit up and watch some of the TV shows that are on at night. You’d be heaps better off by getting an extra hour or 2 of sleep for many reasons, including better digestive health and FAT LOSS!
Take probiotics. Its just not enough to eat yoghurt. You may need to take a probiotic at least until you see (or feel) improvement. I take one daily and notice a huge difference with my digestive health symptoms.
Digestive Enzymes. I recommend these for most of my clients as part of reestabishing a healthy diet. Till everything is functioning again 100% digestive enzymes will help your body to digest and absorb more nutrients from your food.
Eat less (or preferable none) high reaction foods. Some of these are; grains, dairy products, fructose, honey, cabbage, sweet corn, all sweeteners that end in ” ‘ol” , legumes, pulses, mushrooms for some, eggs for some, capsicum, tomatoes, eggplant. You may not even realise that some of these are a problem for you till you eliminate them for a while and then add them back in.
Also taking simple steps like chewing food properly (did you know this is actually a step in the digestion process, not just something to make it easier to swallow?) and going to the toilet when you need to (as opposed to hanging on) will really, really help!
So if you suffer from any of the above symptoms, start straight away on the above tips and you’ll notice a difference. As a bonus, you’ll also be improving your immune system health which is always important but especially at this time of year.
Most people find that cutting out processed foods, sweet treats and sugary drinks causes a massive decrease in cravings once the initial withdrawal phase passes. This phase can take a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how addicted you were.
But there are some foods that cause cravings to continue if you’re consuming them. And sometimes, those foods are ones you wouldn’t suspect.
I’ve listed some of the common culprits below. How many of them are you still eating on a regular basis?
Cutting down on the use of these products and foods or even cutting them out altogether if you’re trying to lose weight will help with cravings and, therefore, help you to stay on track with your fat loss and healthy eating plan.
Dried Fruit – is notorious for causing ongoing cravings due to its high sugar content
Nuts and Seeds – while these have many health benefits, over-consumption not only usually causes overall calorie intake to be too high, they can cause cravings as well.
Dried fruit and nuts can also be combined to make yummy sweet treats that we can kid ourselves are okay to eat freely even if we are consciously trying to lose body fat. The extremely high sugar and fat content of these treats, combined with the delicious ‘I want more’ taste is a recipe for causing more cravings and for binge eating. Including binge eating other not so healthy treats as well.
Diet Drinks are a major cause of binge eating and cravings. Unfortunately, the lack of calories is irrelevant because the sweet ‘taste’ is what is causing cravings in this example. The insulin response in your body starts when you consume any food, particularly sweet foods. And by ‘consume’ I mean, when you are tasting it in your mouth.
There is some evidence that the thought of eating some sweet foods can start the insulin response too, but till that is proven, we will only think of that as a possibility, not fact.
So despite the fact that these foods have little or no calories, avoid them if you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, I’d avoid them all together anyway.
Diet, No Fat, Low Fat, Reduced Fat Etc Products are a recipe for disaster on several levels.
Firstly, they often are loaded up with extra sugar or other additives to make them taste better – as above, a recipe for binge eating and cravings.
Secondly, often people eat more of these foods because the don’t feel guilty doing so. This can cause binging and cravings for other sweet or salty foods as well as a tendency to overeat the diet foods themselves.
Thirdly, diet products often do not satisfy you fully. When fat is removed from real foods, such as cheese or dairy products, they do not have the same taste, mouth feel or satiety as the original foods. This means that usually, you’ll either still be hungry or you will have cravings for more food to feel satisfied.
Protein, Breakfast, Low Carb, Sugar-Free, Natural or any other BARS should be avoided for the most part.
I used to consume protein bars after training thinking I was doing the right thing. But after experimenting, I found that the bars were causing me to crave sugar and I’d often find myself eating more than one or eating more sweet food in an effort to feel satisfied.
People also often kid themselves that they can eat these often because of the low calorie content, the perceived nutritional value or the fact that the marketing promises certain outcomes from eating them (such as muscle building, fat loss etc) Convenience is also a factor in the consumption of bars on a regular basis.
How many of the above foods/products are you eating? Starting today, replace them with real fresh food and water and watch your cravings disappear.
With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, a lot of the conversations seems to be about ‘getting through’ the holidays and then ‘getting on’ with pursuing health and fitness goals from January 1st.
Nothing wrong with that, of course (though personally, I find that those who achieve the most impressive and rapid results are always those who start TODAY), after all, people are busy, they’re distracted and they have all manner of obstacles preventing them from getting what they want when the holiday season rolls around. (read excuses)
But here’s the interesting thing.
Considering people are waiting til ‘the time is right’ to get started on pursuing their goals (presumably ‘right’ meaning that there’s nothing standing in their way), there still seems to be a lot of discussion about avoiding the disappointment of failure by not setting goals too high and not over reaching.
In effect, these conversations are saying “Don’t go for what you REALLY want, go for what you think you can get”
I can understand why people think this way.
They’re scared of ‘failing’ at their diets, their exercise programs, their performance goals and their dreams so instead they play it small by choosing to rationalise and justify their goals instead of going for what they really want.
What they REALLY dream about.
Instead of dreaming the big, amazing, inspiring dreams they settle for what’s ‘realistic’.
In other words, they settle for what someone else has told them either is or is not possible.
I see it all the time at FitterFaster where people who really, desperately want to lose 15kgs set goals of only 5kgs ‘because it’s more realistic’ and who, in doing so, rob themselves of all the power, passion and purpose required to not only achieve the big goal but, ultimately, the small goal too.
Most of the people who set themselves smaller goals because they’ve rationalised them to be more ‘realistic’ have just as hard a time bringing these small goals to life as they would have had if they’d committed to the big ones.
Strange but true.
And here’s why;
Small goals are all fine and dandy but, the truth is, most people aren’t looking for small improvements in their lives. They want big, Huge, ENORMOUS, life-changing things to happen to them rather than small, incremental and often inconsequential goals.
Big goals get you out of bed on cold, damp and dark winter mornings. Small ones have you telling yourself “Go back to sleep, you can do it later”
Big goals have you sticking with your healthy diet no matter what. Small goals have you saying “Well, ONE piece won’t hurt…”
Big goals have you thinking and acting big. Small goals have you thinking and acting… small!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out does it?
The key to making big, dramatic changes to your life, whether they be in your weight, your fitness, your relationships, your finances or anything else is to set yourself goals that would literally revolutionise your life rather than those that only serve to rationalise why you can’t have more.
The word ‘revolution’ comes from the Latin ‘Revolutio’ and means literally ‘a turn around’. Your life turns around by thinking big, powerful, passionate thoughts of what you WANT from your life and then taking the steps to make that happen, NOT by containing your thinking only to those things that you believe are easy.
The truth is, those things that are easiest to do are also the exact same things that are easy NOT to do.
Pushing your plate away when you’re full is easy to do… but easy not to.
Taking 15 minutes a day to exercise is easy to do… but easy not to.
Saving $1 a day is easy to do… but easy not to.
There’s no power, passion, purpose or promise in the small goals that don’t really get your juices flowing. The real power is in those big, scary, exciting goals that, once achieved, would literally turn your life around.
In other words, Revolutionary Goals NOT rational ones.
Then, when you’ve thought big, think BIGGER!
Design the grandest, highest, most perfect vision of your goal in your mind THEN take action to make that goal become a reality.
Set a revolutionary goal TODAY. Don’t wait for New Year or for after Christmas.
Set it today and you’ll have almost 3 weeks toward your goal in the bag before the first day of 2016.
Not to mention that I’m not taking new clients in the first 2 weeks of January 2016. I want anyone who is serious about changing their bodies to commit now.
Contact me today to book a look around, a chat and an assessment. Start your $49 JumpStart program before Christmas (28 days unlimited training) and I will give you the entire month of January free! (you’ll finish your 28 days after January 31st)
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Life these days in many ways is much easier than it was before.
We have convenient ready-cooked or prepared meals available, automatic washing machines, remote everything, the internet and mobile phones. We have cars and public transport, updates from around the world on absolutely anything we need to know. Information is available on any topic 24/7.
You can buy food ready to eat on almost every corner, or if you like to ‘cook’, you can buy edibles in boxes, jars, packets and containers that simply require the addition of 1 or 2 ingredients or just some heating up and viola, a ready to eat meal or snack done with hardly any effort at all. You can even buy food-like substances in bar form meaning no preparation required at all. Just open the wrapper and consume.
The downside to all this is that we are much less active, we generally work more in our paid jobs, we do less stuff like housework, gardening and mowing the lawn and we certainly commute in less active ways.
In fact, most of us have to set aside time to ‘be active’ such as attending an organised training session (such as those we run at FitterFaster) or ‘going for a run or walk’ simply for the exercise.
Other lifestyle factors contributing to your excess body fat are:
You’re chronically stressed
You don’t get enough sleep
You sit down too much
Combined with the factors mentioned above:
Not being active enough every day
Eating less than ideal food because it’s easier/faster/more convenient
But all is not lost. There are lots of things you can do to ensure that your modern lifestyle has the lowest impact possible when it comes to storing excess fat or stopping you from getting rid of it.
Not being active enough
The most obvious way to make a difference here is to start some type of exercise routine. It could be a daily walk or jog (or combo), using and exercise video in your own home, using a downloaded training routine at home or outside or attending organised fitness such as classes and training sessions or Personal training offered at fitness centres, gyms or by personal trainers.
What is less obvious, despite being pointed out to us regularly over the past 10-15 years, is just being more active in the things we do every day.
Could you walk to work? Really? Are you that far from your workplace? I remember walking to work regularly in my younger days in high heels and my skirt-suit. I could easily have driven (and did if it was raining) but it only took about 20 minutes each way and was an enjoyable part of my day – I have a strange thing about checking out peoples’ gardens. I still do it now.
If you really do live too far away to walk, could you park further away and walk a few blocks? Could you carpool with someone close by and at least walk to their place? Could you get off the tram or bus a few stops early? Adding 20 or more minutes of walking into your day really makes a difference.
During the day, take the stairs, walk to other peoples’ offices instead of calling or emailing. If you need to visit another workplace or the post office, walk there if you can.
Offer to do the coffee run and walk again. There are lots of little ways you can add more activity into your day.
Eating lower quality food
This is a trap a lot of us fall into while we tell ourselves we are just too busy or tired to cook a meal from scratch. But honestly, cooking meals at home really doesn’t take that long.
If you do a bit of preparation on the weekend, you can have meals partly or even fully made ahead of time which makes it even easier.
I’ve written about meal preparation and make ahead meals and snacks several times before. Check out these posts for ideas on being organised and for different meals you can make quickly or ahead of time.
First, I purchased an adjustable desk. My choice was a Varidesk which sits on top of the desk I had and is adjustable to a seated height or a standing height. I actually keep mine up at the highest setting and lots of my computer work standing now.
Secondly, I downloaded a timer and I make sure I stand up, walk around or do a quick set of squats about every 15 minutes. Yep, that often. It takes a minute or 2 at the most and I found that once every hour or so just wasn’t often enough. Getting up out of my seat clears my head as well and I’m more focused as well as the health benefits of getting out of the seated position regularly.
You’re chronically stressed or you don’t sleep enough
I’ve put these 2 together as often (but not always) they go hand in hand.
A lack of quality sleep means automatically that your CNS system is being overly stressed, so the first stop here is to make sure you’re getting an absolute minimum of 7 hours good sleep each night.
Ways to make this happen for you include:
Going to bed earlier – duh! Obvious but not as easy as it sounds. Get into a routine. Having the same bedtime and wake time each day really helps with falling asleep more easily and having more restful sleep. If you’re in the habit of going to bed too late, setting an alarm to tell yourself it’s time for bed now is one thing that works for some of my clients. Slowly bring your bedtime forward by 15 minutes or so each week till you’re actually going at a decent time. The old wives saying of every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight is true. It’s all to do with our bodies natural cycles and rhythms. So sleeping 7 hours from 9.30pm – 4.30am is much more effective than 7 hours from midnight to 7 am. Heck, if you’re managing to get to bed at 9.30pm, you can probably easily get 8 hours or more. Unless you get up at 4.30am like me!
Turn off your gadgets and screens at least 30 minutes before bed time. This is vital. The light emitted from your screens will stop you from falling asleep quickly. Just make it a habit not to have your phone, tablet or computer on after 8.30pm.
Chronic stress is a major factor in our society generally being fatter than it was a decade ago. A stressed body and mind doesn’t just make it hard to make good food choices or to have enough energy to do some exercise.
No, it’s much deeper than that. On a cellular level, a body that is stressed all the time produces hormones that inhibit fat burning and cause more fat to be stored regardless of what you’re eating or if you’re training.
This is so common even in some of my clients. They eat really well, they train hard and consistently, but they neglect the recovery and stress reducing side of things and wonder why results are so hard to achieve.
Read this article for awesome ways to reduce stress and to even recognise if you are chronically stressed – I bet you are.
The above article is quite lengthy, but set aside 30 minutes to work through the questions (I think you’ll see yourself in some of the signs of chronic stress) and then read the very practical ways to start coping better.
You’ll see a difference in your results by following all the steps above, and really, there’s nothing there that you cannot do.
A lot of people think they are saving calories by skipping breakfast. But you should think again. What usually happens is that you end up starving by mid-morning, are unable to think clearly and concentrate and you will more than likely replace those missed calories and more sometime later in the day.
Eating more earlier in the day (within reason of course) usually means eating less later in the day.
I see this time and time again in food journals. The binge more happens more often than not, after skipped morning meals because you simply got hungry due to the lack of calories consumed early in the day.
Having said all that, it’s important not to overeat at breakfast time too and you can do that by eating low energy density foods. This basically means choosing foods that have a high volume/lower calorie ratio. Or, in other words, they are filling but provide less calories than other choices.
This is the basis (along with eating real food) of all the FitterFaster meal plans.
Yep, eat heaps and lose body fat because calories are lower overall. Never be hungry because you are simply eating too much food. The biggest and most common complaint I hear is; “There’s too much food, do I have to eat it all?”
So what does this mean in practical terms? What should I eat for breakfast?
Higher fibre foods are great. Foods with high water content are great. Real foods are fantastic and if you combine all these, you’ll get the ideal breakfast for everyone.
A well balanced meal includes ample protein, low energy carbs (usually in the form of vegetables or fruit) and healthy fats.
One of FitterFaster clients’ favourite recipes is FitterFaster Muesli.
100g greek or natural yoghurt
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds/walnuts or 1 tbs of FF Seed Mix
1 serve of quality protein (chocolate and vanilla are awesome)
1 cup berries (fresh or frozen)
Mix everything together, adding the berries last so you don’t squash them.
A fantastic option for breakfast is eggs. You’re probably thinking you don’t have time to prepare eggs, but there are ways around this.
I make a massive quiche on weekends for my kids to have for breakfast a few times during the following week. You may scale this down for your family:
BUTLER BREAKFAST QUICHE
40 free range eggs (we have our own chooks)
3 large carrots grated or diced finely
10-15 mushrooms sliced thinly
half a large bag of spinach roughly chopped
1kg tomatoes diced
bacon (we use anywhere between 500g – 1kg depending on what I have on hand)
2-3 large onions diced
2-3 large capsicum diced
any other veggies I have on hand, all diced
I simply chuck everything in and mix it well. Add salt and pepper and sometimes I also add some spice mix. I have used the Morrocan spice from Masterfoods but other good ones come from the Your Inspiration At Home range that I’ve just started using. Mix it up for variety.
I grease my roasting dish with butter and cook in a 180 degree oven for anywhere from 55-70 mins. As you can imagine, a 40 egg quiche takes some cooking.
I take it out just before the centre sets and let it sit in the dish till cooled. It’s always cooked perfectly without being burnt on the edges this way.
The kids just cut a piece off in the morning and heat in the microwave. They also sometimes have it cold.
My favourite breakfast takes just minutes to cook and I usually do it while I’m making school lunches.
JO’S BREAKY SCRAMBLE
I roughly dice up 1-2 zucchini and chuck it in a warm pan iwth coconut oil. After about 1-2 minutes, I add half a bag of spinach. That cooks for about 30 seconds and then I crack 2 large free range eggs on top. By then the pan is nice and hot, so a couple of quick tosses and a scramble with the spatula and the eggs are done. Its a big green-eggy-scrambly mess that tastes delicious.
Again, I turn off the heat just before the eggs are fully cooked. That way if I need to leave it in the pan because I’m busy (who isn’t in the morning) it won’t overcook.
If I feel like it, I chuck in some herbs or spices, mixing it up each day or having it plain.
You could do this with any veggies and its super fast and very easy.
One last breakfast idea is the PLM. Or Precision Liquid Meal. This is a ‘shake’ made from real food with the addition of protein powder to round it out.
PRECISION LIQUID MEAL
1 serve protein powder
1 cup fruit (banana or berries are my favs)
1 tbls flaxseeds (linseeds) or 1.4 cup almonds/walnuts
Whiz the seeds or nuts till ground well.
Add the fruit and protein along with 150-200ml water. Blend till smooth. A magic bullet, nutri-bullet type machine is best for this. Adjust the water to suit you. Do you prefer to eat with a spoon or drink?
So there you have it. Some easy ideas for the perfect breakfast.
That long to-do list you have staring at you? Working harder, longer and more frantically will not help you get all your boxes checked. The reason is because more tasks, more responsibilities, and more activities keep piling on. But the harder you try to do everything, the more frustrated you become.
The hard truth is that there simply isn’t enough time to do everything there is to do.
Of course we know this intuitively, but for some reason we keep on trying to do it all—probably because we don’t really know what else to do.
And if you are like most people, one of the first things to go is your own fitness and health. Who has time to go to the gym when you are buried under 6 weeks of backlogged to-do’s?
Now for the good news: there is a way out.
You see, when you try to do everything, the most important tasks get mixed up with the least important tasks. The result is that you end up spending precious time on things that do not move you toward your goals.
If you are doing things that do not move you toward your goals, you are, in fact, moving away from your goals.
You only have so much energy, and you only have so much time. The key is to make sure that you are focusing on the most important tasks. How??
The only way to sort through your to-do list and decide which tasks are the most important is to know where you are headed.
What are your goals? What things do you want to change? Where do you want to be in 6 months, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?
What is your goal in relation to your kids, your wife, your job?
How is your health? How fit and healthy do you really want to be?
We’re looking at your top goals right now: the big ones.
This doesn’t mean that you do not have other goals, but these are the ones that get priority no matter what else is going on.
Stop doing some things
Once you know what your goals are, you can take a critical look at how you spend your day.
Each day, you do a lot of things and you expend a lot of energy.
Where are you focusing most of your best energy and concentration?
Every task can be assigned a value—it is either a high value task or it is a low value task.
High value tasks are those tasks that move you in the direction of your established goals.
Low value tasks are those tasks that do not move you in the direction of your goals.
It’s that simple.
So in order to reach your goals, you must open up more time for those high value tasks that propel you forward. And the only way to do this is to stop doing some of your low value tasks.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
Some of those low value tasks may be important, just less important than others. This is where you will have to get creative.
If you can eliminate it, just toss it out.
For example, if your goal is to decrease your diabetes medication by exercising more, get rid of the low value hour you spend daily checking facebook and watching the nightly news.
Think efficiency: can you systematise it?
Checking email may be important, but checking several times a day uses valuable time and energy. This is something I’ve done which literally saves me hours each week. I check first thing and then 2 other times per day during the week. I’ve stopped checking in the evenings too and honestly, I’m so much more efficient. Weekends I usually just check once per day now.
Let your clients/work mates know that you will only be checking email twice a day, and tell them what time you will be doing this. This will free up time for more valuable activities such as working out or preparing nutritious food. Make sure that you actually close your email account and turn off notifications so that you’re not tempted by that little red circle with the number in it.
Pass it along: delegate it!
There are some things you can stop doing because you hand them to someone else. Can your son start mowing the yard for you? Can you hire someone to do some of your tasks more cheaply than you can do them yourself?
Remember: every second you spend on activities that do not move you toward your goal takes you in the opposite direction from your goal. Live intentionally!
You are now positioned for success. You have set your goals, you have stopped doing the things that don’t move you toward those goals, and you have freed up energy and time to focus on the highest value tasks.
Your to-do list should look a lot different now. It should be, well, doable as opposed to a bottomless pit of never finished pressures.
The only way to get fit is to make it a top priority.
It should feel urgent. It should be one of your top goals. Why? Because if you squander your health, you will be forced to give up much of what you love and enjoy. But keep your health and you stay positioned for success. Great health and fitness does not happen by accident. Make it a priority or you’ll never get there.
Spend time TODAY deciding what you can stop doing so that you have the time and energy to live with intention and direction.