September: A month for a fresh start

Boy, oh boy, did I have a good summer- friends weddings, mini city breaks, a week-long holiday in Italy, lots of wine and bread, dinners, nights out and lots and lots of sugar, salt and delicious toxins!

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As much as I’ve loved the summer and all the indulgence, it’s left me feeling a bit ‘off’. My skin is back looking rubbish, my energy levels are bottoming out again- I long to be back in bed most days, my brain fog is creeping back, my mood is also defiantly darker and my old tumtum is playing up a fair bit.

I’ve always loved September, for me it brings with it a sense of ‘fresh starts’ – more so than January does. I associate January with being broke, cold and depressed while September for me is the time of new books, shiny new shoes, hikes on crunchy Autumn leaves, hearty meals, routine and new habits. In fact it was this time last year that I first decided to stop just ‘investigating’ wellness and holistic health and actually start living it.

(Basically, last September, after a particularly fun night out with friends I decided to walk the whole way home, a 30 minute walk,  at 2:30 AM, down quiet, deserted streets, all alone –  just so I could get cheese and garlic chips from my local chipper. I know, I know, so dangerous, such a flippen eejit.

I woke up the next morning, with a horrible hangover, eye make up everywhere, the remains of the chips on the coffee table and I decided I had had enough. I decided then and there I didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl no more and gingerly set out to become the person I wanted to be).

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So, on this note I’ve decided that this September is again going to be my wellness ‘fresh start’. I’m going to go back to:

  • Drinking lemon and hot water each morning
  • Reducing my coffee intake to 1 skinny latté every other day
  • Doing a big veggie/ fruit shop each week so I’m more prepared for the week ahead
  • Eating at least 5 different fruits/ veg a day
  • Dry body brush before my shower everyday (not just at the weekends!)
  • Drinking 2 liters of filtered water a day (…must buy a filter!)
  • Get my body moving for at least 20 minutes every day– more yoga, get out and start walking in my lunch break, using our new gym.
  • Meditate more often (perhaps I’ll start a meditation class?)
  • Consciously work on silencing my ‘ego’ or ‘negative DJ’- she’s getting awfully loud and agressive lately
  • Reduce my reliance on cheese and bread and actively seek out and make new alternatives
  • Drinking either a juice or smoothie everyday
  • Cut out all beer and cocktails, they seem to be making an unwelcome return
  • Reduce my reliance on Facebook and Daily Mail… those bloody sites will be the death of me!!
  • Replace all my supplements which have long run out
  • Buy a vegan cook book and become more confident with vegan recipes
  • Take more time to Skype all my BFF’s living in far off places- I always feel 100% times more connected and grounded after a good old natter!

Yup, I think that is enough to keep me going! Here’s to feeling back fit and healthy by Christmas!

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Juice Detox: Day 5- Finished!

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Awhoohoo! Today is my last day of the 5 Day Juice Detox!

I’d just like to take a mo to reiterate the reasons why I did this 5 Day Juice Detox:

  • I did it to detox my body from all processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and dairy.
  • I did it to give my digestion the time to process and clean out any toxins which might be residing in the deepest darkest parts of my gut and intestines.
  • I also did it to provide a nutritious boost to all my cells and organs with the help of daily spirulina and wheatgrass shots and mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables washed down with liters of filtered water.

I mean if that’s not good for you someone is going to have to take me aside, sit me down and give me a thorough lesson on what’s healthy!

It was once explained to me that when you’re on a detox (or that 5:2 day diet I’ve heard so much about) your system doesn’t have to spend it’s entire time trying to digest and convert the dodgy food we’re ingesting, so it can get involved in other worthwhile activities elsewhere in the body, like cleaning up your skin or improving your immune system or repairing your neglected liver.

Also while on the detox I made an extra special effort to incorporate 40/60 minutes of exercise into my daily routine and also to be in bed, with my light off by 11 PM every night.  As they say…

Feed your cells and your cells will feed you.

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So how am I feeling? Generally OK. In all honesty this week was hard, it was my first attempt at any extended detox and I don’t think I realised the level of preparation and dedication it would involve. We must have been shopping, washing, chopping, juicing, blending and cleaning up for about 2 hours a day, every day! I’m glad I did this in a quieter week or otherwise I feel I would have fallen off the band wagon.

Physically though I felt fine, actually I’d go as far to say I felt great. No bloating, no detox headaches and pains which I’d heard so much about, no stomach upsets or discomfort.

TMI possibly, but I did notice an alarming lack of poop over the week, probably due to the fact there wasn’t a lot of roughage or fiber going through me- that was an effect I didn’t quite enjoy.

I also slept like a baby all week (actually why is that even a saying?! From what I hear baby’s sleep terribly and are awake every couple of hours looking to be feed or something?!).

Oh and today during my ‘Work Lift Mirror Check’* I was surprised to notice all the little bumpy, pimply clogged looking pores on my face were looking a lot better, not perfect mind, but much improved – bar a whopper ‘3rd eye’ spot which has erupted overnight, but then that makes sense as it’s in the ‘detox’ part of my face (more on face mapping here).

*’Work Lift Mirror Check’: The lighting in our work lift is horrendous and shows up every imperfection on your skin. So, naturally, whenever I’m alone in the lift I torture myself by examining the quality of my skin in it.

Did I lose weight? As I’ve mentioned previously I wasn’t doing this to lose weight but then again I was happy to note that my skinny jeans slid on a lot easier this morning.

What was the total bill of the 5 days? About €100 for all the veg, fruit and supplements.

Would I recommend it? Hummmmm, let me put it this way, it’s not something I would rush to do again. I just found it very unnatural denying myself food and solids but I do think that the couple of days did my system the world of good. I think in future I’ll just integrate fresh fruit and veg juices into my daily routine.

Now, where’s that cheese sambo! 😉

Juicing: The drink that packs a punch

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As per my past blog posts coffee is bad, soft drinks are bad, fruit juices are bad, alcohol is bad, tap water is bad (actually I haven’t done a blog on that yet, but I will, ooooh I will). At this stage your thinking ‘well what in the bleedin heck can I bloody well drink‘?  Good point, I’ve been a bit of a Negative Nancy of late harping on about all the things I’ve given up on this here ‘Wellness Journey’, so I’m going to change tact and talk about all the loverly things I’ve introduced to my diet instead. Numero Uno: Veggie Juice!

Veggie Juice is ‘so hot right now’ mainly cos it’s one of the best ways to extract all the vitamins, minerals and plain old goodness that comes from vegetables. Let’s face it, who wants to be eating 2 cucumbers, 3 handfuls of spinach and kale at 7am- but juicing enables us to get a healthy amount of vegetables in one go to start the day off with a bang!

Veggie Juicing  also delivers the zesty goodness  directly into your blood stream in the quickest way possible as juicing removes fiber, leaving the nutrients with nothing better to do but zoom right into your cells- pow!

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Finally green veggie juice oxygenates the body due to the addition of chlorophyll and enables us to release stored toxins in our bodies, increase our energy reserves and cleanse our system.

Until now I have been getting my Veggie Juice from the lovely people in The Hopsack, Rathmines (mine is the apple, beetroot and ginger one please) or else getting it delivered to my door by the beautiful Fiona from Rawfi. However a little birdie tells me I might be getting my very own juicer for my birthday this year (t-minus two weeks people!) which I’m unbelievably excited about.

(Side Point: it’s funny how life works, if my boyfriend had tried to buy me a kitchen appliance for my birthday last year I would have probably hit him over the head with it, but this year I’m only delighra!)

I’ll be back with more on my Juicing Adventure later, but for now, if you are lucky enough to own a juicer or would like to know more, I recommend having a lookie at this short video by the gorgeous Kris Carr.

My Wellness Cloud Bookshelf- Part 2

Books

Happy rainy Monday morning to you- things can only get better I suppose!

Here’s a round up of a few more books I love and would recommend to any budding Wellness Warriors…

No More Dirty Looks: I’ve discussed this book in past blogs (here and here) so I’ll just quickly say here how this book opened my eyes to all the crap we are lathering on to ourselves on a daily basis.  I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you- but some of the products on your bathroom shelf and make up bag have chemicals which are hormone disturbing at the very least and carcinogenic at the worst- eeeeeek :-/!

Since reading this book I’ve become one of those annoyingly smug people who doesn’t buy any ‘unclean’ beauty products. I preach about the joys of using coconut oil for everything (‘I use it as a face and body moisturiser, eye make up remover and hair defuzzer don’t you know?’) and it makes me happy, so I’m planning to keep it that way.

Even if you love your beauty products (as I once did), I’d recommend this book as it’ll arm you with a fighting chance when trying to decide between shower gels so you can pick the less offensive one.

You Are What you Eat: There was a time I used to call this book my ‘Bible’, I’d bring it everywhere and refer to passages regularly, (‘Page 15, section 2: ‘thou shall not eat fruit after carbs’). It was my first introduction to ‘wellness’, although the movement didn’t have any fancy terms, blogs and quiona back then.

One of my favorite things is the way Gillian breaks everything down into individual body parts:

  • Pealing nails= Means you many have a weak and over worked liver and you are recommended to introduce Milk Thistle into your diet.
  • Stinky poo= Points to stagnation in the large intestine and that you’re in need of a digestive enzyme after meals
  • Spots on chin= Means you have an hormonal imbalance in the reproductive area and you could do with a herb like agnus castus to correct it.

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Womancode: In the last few months I’ve been slowly coming to the conclusion that a lot of women’s health issues (physical, mental and emotional) are due to our hormones being unbalanced, or out of ‘whack’ as a lot of other bloggers seem to say.  This book cemented this theory for me. The book discusses some really important topics and I think it’s a book we should all read (my copy is available if anyone wants a lend!)

Some of the stuff I learnt:

  • PCOS, endometriosis, low libido, infertility, cystic acne, PMS, cramps and irregular menstruation are not normal and are not things we should be expected to live with (a say whaaat?!)
  • These are all symptoms of unbalanced hormones.
  • Amazingly interesting things (which I actually can’t believe we didn’t learn in school!) about our monthly cycles and how we have different ‘powers’ and qualities at different times of the month depending on the balance of hormones in our system (e.g. we are proven to be more creative the 7 to 10 days following our periods and that’s the time we should brainstorm and try new foods and sports as we will most likely enjoy them).

Mind Over Medicine: I am currently reading this fascinating book all about how we can heal ourselves with the power of our minds- sounds a bit ‘out there’ but apparently its all backed by medical research as Lissa is a qualified doctor. I’ll report back here once finished.

Salt, Sugar, Fat: This is next on the reading list and I’m pretty excited about it as it provides insights into the big business that is the Food Industry. 

So, have any recommendations of other wellness books for me to read? Any suggestions are much appreciated 🙂

I Quit Sugar (for a month)

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There’s so much I want to say about this that I could type for hours, but I know you don’t want to read for hours so I’m going to keep it short and sweet (for want of a different word).

A normal day for me used to look like this:

Morning: Lemon and hot water, Porridge with full fat milk, 1 banana, honey and either chia seeds or linseed

Lunch: A salad left over from last night with cheese and some bread

Afternoon snack: A Jaffa Cake or two (my office is obsessed with them for some reason)/ A handful of homemade Trail Mix

When I get in from work: Green smoothie

Dinner: Some vegetarian and cheese based meal

TV Snack: Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and maybe a glass of Red wine

The truly shocking thing is that all of this adds up to about 30 teaspoons of sugar a day and the thing is is we aren’t designed to consume as much as we do. The correct daily intake of sugar we should in fact be consuming is only 6 teaspoons of sugar a day.

I had no idea I was consuming this much but then you see it turns out that sugar doesn’t only come from a chocolate bar or a bag of Haribo… Glucose (carbs), fructose (fruit) and lactose (dairy) = Sugar

As Sarah Wilson discusses in her book, ‘I Quit Sugar’, the problem with sugar is 2 fold

Problemo #1: Fructose is a sneaky mo’ fo’…

Sugar makes us eat more.  Every other food we digest has a corresponding appetite hormone that registers the food in our bellies which results in us saying, ‘Jayzuz, I’m stuffed’, (or something a little more lady like!), but not sugar. As we all know we can gorge on sugary foods without feeling full (maybe sick but far from full)

And the thing is that the Coca Colas, Red Bulls, Mars and Nestles of this world know this fact.

They say their products should only be consumed in ‘moderation’ knowing full well that they have been designed to hit our ‘bliss point’- a point at which the product tastes sweet, but not so sweet that we can’t keep eating them- and cause us to over indulge.

It has been scientifically proven that we can’t consume these sugary foods in moderation. These ‘foods’ do something to our saliva glands that make them juice at the sight of them, they do something to our brains and taste buds that crave them when we see them advertised, they do something to our stomachs that make them gurgle when we see them for sale in the newsagents. Once you have a bite you’re hooked and want more.

Problemo #2: Sugar messes with our delicate hormones

Each consumption of sugar messes with our blood sugar levels, it sends them soaring high and then crashing low. When they’re up the hormone insulin has to kick in and regulate it and when it’s down the stress hormone Cortisol has to help out. Here are the effects this can have on our bodies if this happens a couple of times a day:

Insulin side effects: increased body fat, reduction in our bodies ability to burn fat, reduction in lean muscle, increase in inflammation, reduced energy, effects our mood, increased brain fog, increased oestrogen (which is a whole other story…)

Cortisol side effects: Digestive problems, inflammations, inability to repair, lower immune.

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April’s Challenge:

Give Up- Sugar

So that’s why I gave up Sugar (and all it’s little friends, including fructose) for April, I went Cold Turkey.

I  followed Sarah Wilson’s book, this is an 8 week process but as the first two weeks are a warm up and the last week is a warm down I squished it into a 5 week process.

I coupled this with 100 squats a day as this is great at producing the growth hormone which is a natural way to stabilise our Blood Sugar and counteract the negative effects of insulin (more on that here)

Verdict

This month was a total eye opener for me and the effects have only really been felt since the month’s experiment was finished. I think my taste buds have changed (matured?) and I can no longer eat desert or even fruity smoothies as I find them too sweet and they give me a physical pain in my gums.  I also lost weight (the weight put on when I attempted to be a vegetarian and a little bit more). I also noticed my PMS and general lady time wasn’t as rough as once was.

Since then I have reintroduced fruit, honey and some sugary treats into my diet but I am largely trying to follow this lifestyle each day as it makes me feel so good.

So, do you think you can/want to try it? If so here’s a few resources to sink your teeth into:

A short 15 minute video

Some blog posts:

Some books:

  • Sarah Wilson, ‘I Quit Sugar’
  • Mark Moss, ‘Salt, Sugar, Fat’
  • David Gillspie, ‘Sweet Poison’

A piece of info I just have to leave you with: A glass of apple juice contains as much sugar as a glass of Coke… 10/ 12 teaspoons. I’m sorry but it’s true.

Kidneys: The Neglected Organ?

You’ve had a mental couple of weeks working and socialising and basically burning the candle at both ends. You wake up exhausted and cranky most mornings and can’t operate until you have had 1/2/3 cups of coffee. Work is stressful and a bit too fast paced then you would like. Most evenings you have a strong craving for salty products. There are large dark circles under your eyes, your nails are cracking and your hair is dull and lifeless.

Does this sound like you? Then keep reading cos I think you could do with some info on yer kidneys.

The poor old kidneys, most people have a general understanding of what the liver, lungs and heart do for us and how to look after them but when it come to the kidneys a lot of people don’t even know what they actually do for us, never mind how to take care of them. I for one used to be clueless, I didn’t even realise we had two… true story.

Quick run through: The kidneys are two small organs in your lower back under your adrenal glands. Their functions include:

  • Filtering waste out of the blood
  • Regulating the body’s salt, potassium and acid content
  • Removing of drugs from the body
  • Balancing the body’s fluids
  • Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure
  • Controlling the production of red blood cells

See they are useful little fellas after all?! (not sure why, but they are male in my mind)

The past 10/ 20 years have seen a massive increase in people suffering from kidney disease, the need for dialysis and kidney transplants due to kidney failure. The reasons for this is closely linked to the skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes. In fact dialysis centres are becoming so normal in the US they are popping up in shopping malls like a Starbucks…

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The other scary thing is that many people who have kidney disease don’t even know they have it. Therefore it’s important to recognise the signs your kidneys are under additional pressure and help them out.

So what can I do to help my kidneys?

  1. Eat more magnesium-rich, hydrating foods, e.g. Raw almond butter/ Dark, leafy greens, e.g. kale/ Spirulina- I’m going to do a blog on this superfood shortly/ Brown Rice/ Avocado
  2. Be informed: the next time you’re doing a shop have a read of the ingredients, especially the salt content of products before buying. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you but deli meats, pre made soups and most sauces are laden with salt.
  3. Regularly eat the following ‘kidney booster’ foods: red grapes/ cranberries/ apples/ garlic/ red peppers.
  4. Try and eat your 5 fruit and veg- everyday! This takes preparation and forward planning. I try to do a big veggie shop twice a week so I don’t go without when things are busy.
  5. Quit smoking: Duh…
  6. Find a type of exercise you find fun and get moving!
  7. Prevent kidney infections by drinking lots of water and staying away from those terrible ‘ Feminine Hygiene Sprays’.

Clean Beauty Products- Shampoo Review

Clean2Through most of my teen and adult years I’ve been slapping endless bottles of  lotions, potions, fake tans, moisturisers, cellulite creams (useless but bloody expensive!), hair reducers, shaving creams and exfoliaters all over my body, being a marketers dreams and not once stopping for even a second to wonder what was in them or if there was a possibility the ingredient list could be anyway detrimental to me (more on that here)

So when I stumbled across the ‘Clean’ beauty product movement my initial reaction was, ‘naaaah, that can’t be right, Dove wouldn’t do that to me. It’s just another conspiracy theory from a pack of smelly hippies…’

But, even though I tried to silence it, one train of thought kept nagging at me as I slapped on my moisturisers and fake tans, ‘your skin is your biggest organ, it absorbs everything you put on it… can all this crap be good??‘.

Then it hit me, it was suddenly so blindingly obvious. Why the hell was I going out of my way to eat fresh, organic foods and reduce eating any products with unknown/ unpronounceable ingredients and then ruin it all by consistently slathering on unnatural substances and chemicals on a daily basis?

It was defo a personal ahh-ha moment (Oprah would be so proud!).

Anyway, I sent a mental apology to all the ‘conspiracy theorists’ I had been doubting and jumped firmly on the ‘Clean’ beauty regime. I blogged previously about all my new organic products but here’s a quick update.

My most recent purchase was Avalon Organics Glistening Shampoo.

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I bought it in The Select Stores in Dalkey, Dublin for about €6 and am very happy with it. It has no parabens or the evil sodium lauryl/ laureith sulphateit, it smells good and it works just fine (it does take a bit longer then most shampoos to get a lather going but other then that it’s just spiffy!).

Lemon and Hot Water Fan Club

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We’ve all heard you should start your day with hot water and lemon- everyone from Weight Watchers to Oprah recommends it, but why? Why is everyone banging on about lemon and hot water?! Well, let me tell ya…

As I mentioned before, I’ve been doing some research into Ayurveda practices, which is where this practice actually originates from. It says drinking hot water and lemon each morning will ‘align the body with nature’s rhythms and balance the doshas’… which basically is a load of gobbildygook to me!

So I’ve looked else where and here’s some reasons to get on board:

1. Helps with weight loss: Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings.

2. Aids digestion: Science Bit: the warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis and the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. The non science bit: This stuff keeps you regular.

3. Boosts your immune system: Lemons are high in Vitamin C- Vitamin C is great for fighting colds.

4. Balances pH: Lemons are an alkaline food. I’ll fill you in on this soon but alkaline (as apposed to acidic foods) promote an alkaline body, which is really the key to good health.

5. Stimulates the liver: aka great for a hangover!

I try to have a cup of warm water (not boiling- as you’ll destroy the live enzymes in the lemon) and the juice from half a lemon every morning and feel nicely ‘cleaned out’ and cleansed by the time breakie/ lunch comes around. I also like the calming effect it has on, what can be frantic, morning routine!

PS I’ve also heard adding a sprinkle of cayenne pepper with lemon increases the detoxing effect and raises the temperature of your body increasing your metabolism but I’m not too fond of the taste that early in the morning, so I’m leaving that step out.

This Food Babe blog post really hit the benefits home to me.

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