Kris’s Chocky Cake (Guilt & Gluten-free)

Taste as good as they look!

I love chocolate – who doesn’t? But I am making an effort to eat more of the beneficial (dark) chocolate and less of the naughty stuff… (you know, the milky chocolate filled with sugar, nuts or a truffle centre). So, channelling 2 of my fave health foodies (Patrick Holford & Teresa Cutter) I modified their recipes and came up with this – can I just say – glorious chocolate cake recipe that even the kids thought were pretty damn good.

Makes 10-12

  • 125g good quality dark chocolate (70% Cocoa)
  • 2/3 cup macadamia oil
  • 1/3 cup Agave nectar (or pear juice concentrate)
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs (preferably organic or free-range)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 180-200 degrees C. Line a square baking tine with baking paper.

2. Melt the chocolate

3. Add everything into a blender (or mix by hand) except raspberries, and blend on low speed until all well combined.

4. Stir through raspberries. Pour into cake tin. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until just firm.

Enjoy with some extra raspberries on the side and a big smile!

Some Facts

It is a fact that Raw Cacao (or cocoa powder) contains antioxidants that rival fruit for better health. Many studies have shown dark (emphasis on dark) chocolate is healthy for the cardiovascular system. And now research shows gram for gram, there are more antioxidants, polyphenols and flavanols in cocoa powder than fruit juice!

Plus it’s high in magnesium and iron, and contains compounds that act as stimulants believed to boost serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain.  It contains the stimulants theobromine and caffeine that can increase alertness and give you a pleasurable sensation similar to the high people get after exercise.

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Why Detox?

Milk is made from seeds at Kamalya in Koh SamuiThe word Detox has taken such a battering by the media over the past few years that there is more negative connotation and myth associated with it, than the wonderful vitality and rejuvenation it can bring to your health. A good detox program can literally be the start of a new lease on life and the essential first step down the path of long-term wellbeing.

Put simply, to detox means to give your blood a good clean, which has a profound and positive effect on your liver, kidneys, and every other organ of your body. Our blood accumulates toxins (more than it can filter out) from both external and endogenous (internal) sources. External toxins come into your body through poor diet, drinking too much alcohol, coffee and tea, stress, poor sleep, exposure to environmental toxins (pollution) and taking drugs… among other things. Endogenous sources are usually a result of hormonal or chemical imbalances, and by-products of the bacteria in our digestive system. Often excess endogenous toxins are a result of exposure to too many external toxins.

When your blood contains too many toxins it compromises every cell in the body. As a result your health pays a price… and ultimately your hip-pocket does too.

I remember the very first Detox program I did, and that intense feeling of being 100% healthy at the end. I had spent a week at The Farm at San Benito, Batangas in the Philippines (www.thefarm.com.ph). At the end of the program I had crystal-clear eyes, my skin was glowing and my energy levels were at an all-time high. My usual Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms were no more, and I had never felt so vibrant and healthy in my entire life. I remember thinking everyone should experience this feeling. Nirvana!

And yes, I confess that a medically supervised Detox program in a beautiful Spa environment, with food and juices prepared for you is a great way to Detox. However, I also believe that with enough motivation, commitment and advance preparation you can complete a very effective Detox program in the comfort of your own home.

So, taking the best bits from some of the wonderful Spas around the globe, expert advice from a number of highly regarded naturopaths and nutritionists, combined with my experience, I have created the Get Clean Get Lean program.

Before you embark, think about why you are doing this program. Is it to re-energise? Lose weight? Undo some of the damage done over the holidays? Or to kick-start a new, healthy lifestyle? Whatever your reason is, write it down. When temptation rears its ugly head, come back to the why you are doing this. I’m sure the reason why is much more meaningful to you than any temptation that may be put before you.

Also think about your end goal. Write that down too. How will it feel to achieve that goal? And what is your reward? Come on, we all need a deal sweetner! A little motivation to keep us on track. What will you reward yourself with (other than health and vitality) at the end of this program? Make it good… you deserve it!

My Get Clean | Get Lean program

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Don’t Mess with My Metabolism

WORD: KRIS ABBEY

There is quite a bit of debate (for lack of a better word) around calorie-restricted or very low calorie diets (VLCD). Sure, restricting your calories will help you loose weight, but really cutting back on calories (below 1200 per day) is not the answer… especially for long-term results!

Creating Humps

When it comes to losing weight, the general rule of thumb is to expend more energy than you consume. Although this works for most of us, others fail to shift that fat even when they follow the strictest diet. The reason is simple. You cannot outsmart your body! As soon as you restrict your calorie intake, your body is awake to this and begins to ‘economise’ its energy expenditure. It effectively goes into Starvation Mode and tends to spare the fat stores, rather than use them up – the opposite of what you want!

When you finally can’t beat your body’s cry for food (particularly of the fast, energy-providing kind), off you go on a feeding frenzy, and binge until your heart’s content. Unfortunately, your body protects against another starvation and, rather than converting this food to glycogen and storing it in your muscles for immediate use, it thinks ahead and stores it as fat… a bit like a camel storing fat in its hump for a trek across the desert. Low calorie diets tend to encourage this kind of yoyo dieting, resulting in bigger humps than when you started!

What is Metabolism?

Your metabolism is a complex and finely tuned process. Every day, scientists learn more about how your metabolism operates and how different foods can affect it. The simplistic explanation for how your body metabolises fat is this: Your body’s first source of energy is from the blood glucose circulating in your blood, followed by the glycogen stores in your muscles. Once these have been depleted, your body looks to fat to supply its energy.

Some foods can actually increase your metabolism, getting to your fat stores quicker, and these are the foods you want to eat on a regular basis!

What is Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?

You need a minimum amount of energy to maintain function of your vital organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain and nervous system, liver and kidneys, whether you are awake or asleep. This energy requirement is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the amount of energy you burn without moving or eating. It should not be confused with your BMI (Body Mass Index), which is a calculation to determine your ideal body weight for your height.

If you are interested in knowing your BMR, it can be calculated after fasting for 12 hours (to avoid increases in metabolism due to digestion of food). The best time to do the test is first thing in the morning after having naturally fasted during your sleep. Knowing your BMR allows you to establish a baseline, which is useful if you’re trying to lose weight or increase your metabolism through good nutrition and regular exercise.

What Can Cause My Metabolism to Slow Down?

  1. Ageing. As you age, your metabolism naturally slows. However, more research is showing that this decline has less to do with the ageing process and more to do with the fact that we become less active as we age. Reduced physical activity equals reduced lean muscle. Lean muscle is the furnace your body recruits to burn calories and maintain a quality of life that is both energetic and healthful.
  1. Thyroid Function. Certain thyroid imbalances can impact your metabolism. However, you would be surprised by how many people visit the doctor claiming thyroid-related weight issues, only to find their thyroid is perfectly normal. The culprit tends to be overeating, one of the main causes of metabolic slow-down.
  1. Dieting. We’ve already covered, but without making to fine a point of this, please eat sensibly and nutritiously – starving yourself is stupid!

What Can I Do to Increase My Metabolism and Burn More Calories?

Here are two ways you can supercharge your metabolism:

1. Regular Exercise

No surprises here! Physical activity has a profound effect on your energy expenditure. The great news is that you can increase your metabolic rate by 10 times during continuous ‘big muscle’ activity, such as resistance training, cycling, running, fast walking, tennis, swimming. Under normal circumstances, physical activity accounts for 15% to 30% of your total daily energy expenditure.

2. Eating Particular Foods

Eating food increases energy metabolism in two ways. The first results from the energy needed to digest the nutrients and fibre in your food. The second relates to the activation of your nervous system to stimulate your metabolic rate. The effect of just eating can add to energy use by 10% and reaches its maximum effectiveness within one hour after eating.

And believe it or not, there are foods that speed up your metabolism and take short cuts to your fat stores, helping you lose weight.

Read: Fat Burning Foods!

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How to Get 6-Pack(ish) Abs

WORDS: KRIS ABBEY

Chris Shipman Photography

Wouldn’t you love to have trim, taut abs? Or even a little less of the muffin-top? Or what about more core strength? Well, this isn’t as elusive as it sounds. Your abs are one of the easiest muscles to strengthen, and by exercising them three to four times a week, you’ll start to notice results in as little as two weeks. While I would never put myself through the torture of an excessive abs routine, I am proud to admit that after having three children my core still holds strong. Before you get down and give me 20, there are a few essential factors you need to consider if you are to reach your goal of a firmer, flatter stomach… with a hint of a six-pack!

Rule #1

A well-defined 6-pack requires muscular hypertrophy of the abdominal muscles i.e. you need to exercise those muscles! You don’t need any fancy (read: gimmicky) ab equipment, just a mat or a towel and some space. 5-10 minutes would be useful as well.

Rule #2

Unfortunately, you can have the best abs on the planet, but if you’re carrying extra weight (i.e. fat) you’re not going to see those toned abs hidden beneath. So if you want to see your six-pack, a low level of body fat is essential (sub-15%).

Contrary to popular belief, no amount of abs training will reduce the body fat that covers your midsection. The only way to reduce the fat covering your abs is to follow a smart nutritional program and a well-designed training regime that increases your metabolism and naturally stimulates your fat-burning hormones. Lose the fat, and get a wonderful surprise at what lies below.

Rule #3

Anything worth while is worth doing properly. Don’t go crazy and go from doing nothing for your abdominals to doing 100 sit-ups a day. It will probably result in an injury and damage to your back. Start small and build up. Consider quality over quantity. And if you’re not sure if your technique is correct, get advice or help from a qualified instructor.

There is no concrete evidence to suggest the perfect number of reps, since we’re all different and have different levels of strength. What we do know is that, as a small muscle group, the rectus abdominus is easily over-trained, making rest and recovery essential. The quantity I have suggested is to be used as a guide only. Work within your capabilities. And train your abs every second day, or even wait until the third day if you’re still sore from the previous session.

Once you’ve got your diet in order, it’s time to hit the floor to work those abs into shape.

The three muscle groups we’re talking about are:

1. rectus abdominus – the long, flat muscle extending all the way down the front of your abdomen

2. obliques – the external obliques are the widest muscles in your body, running diagonally down from the middle of your ribcage to your pelvis, while the internal obliques lie beneath, running diagonally up from your pelvis to your ribcage

3. transversus abdominus – a thin patch of muscle that runs horizontally down your side beneath your internal obliques

You need to exercise all 3 muscle groups each time you do your ab exercises. They are in a perfect anatomical balance, and if you work one over another, you’ll throw out your alignment. Anyway, enough theory, let’s put it to practise!

Below are my favourite exercise because you can do them anywhere, any time, and you will get results… guarantee!

1. Bicycle Manoeuvre

Lie flat with your lower back pressed to the floor. Put your hands beside your head (beginners may prefer to rest their elbows on the floor). Bring your knees up to a 45 degree angle. Slowly go through the motion of pedalling a bicycle. Maintain even, relaxed breathing. Start with 10 cycles (each leg) and build up. Or do 30 seconds, then 40 etc.

2. Bicycle Manoeuvre with Oblique Twist (Russian Twist)

Same as exercise 1, except touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.

3. Crunch on Exercise Ball

Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Let the ball roll back slowly. Lie back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest. Slightly tuck your chin in towards your chest. Contract your abdominals and raise your torso to about 45 degrees, then return to the starting position. For better balance, spread your feet wider apart. To challenge your obliques, make the exercise less stable by keeping your feet closer together. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position. If you don’t have a Ball, the floor will do. Start with 15-20 and gradually build up to more.

4. Vertical Leg Crunch

Lie flat with your lower back pressed to the floor. Extend your legs straight up in the air, with a slight bend in your knees. Contract your abs by lifting your legs. Keep your chin off your chest as you contract. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position. This is quite tough, so if you are a beginner do these with your knees bent. Start with 10 and build up.

5. Hover or Plank

This is my all-time favourite exercise. It gets your entire core in one ‘foul’ move! Lie face down on the floor. Get into the push-up position, except with your elbows on the floor instead of your hands. Elevate yourself, with just your elbows and toes on the floor. Keep you palms flat on the floor. (Beginners may prefer to use knees rather than toes, with feet crossed over each other).  Hold for 30 seconds, and build up to 1, 2 or even 3 minutes for the hard-core (pun intended!).

Do 1 set of each of these exercises every other day. After week one, do 2 sets, then aim for 3 sets. Do this in conjunction with a good nutrition and exercise program and in four weeks you’ll be looking (and feeling) great!

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Emotional Recycling

WORDS: CYNTHIA MORTON

“The new frontier – the human heart.”

Fear within the heart creates toxins – emotional manure, if you like, that can either be dumped or responsibly recycled. Planting love in our hearts is like planting trees; it provides beauty, life and a future. Fear is like a toxic weed that strangles Love and life’s potential if left unattended.

Believing there is not enough love for us, or that we are not worthy of it, is a fear most people confront at least once in their lives. When this fear arises, we either look inside ourselves and weed out this toxin, or we look outside ourselves for an escape.

If we see a person dropping rubbish in the street, or out of a car window, we are often appalled at their lack of care and respect for our planet. However, I now believe it is just as disrespectful to drop emotional waste and expect others to clean up after us.

I have worked with over 7,000 people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, as well as helping them learn how to manage obsessive, compulsive behaviours that create emotional imbalance in relationship to food, money and sex. After hearing a client unload their life history of addiction, violence, neglect and abuse, I often find myself saying: “Shit makes great fertiliser. And the more you have, the more rose bushes you can grow.”

So every time you’re feeling shitty, crappy or unhappy, just remember there is no mystery here. You are simply locked in the position of looking at yourself and your world through the eyes of fear. The feeling is healthy, as it is only an alarm going off in the form of a feeling. Emotional discomfort is like a stone in your shoe. It makes sense to take the time to stop and take off your shoe, uncover your foot, discover the location of the stone, remove it, then re-cover your foot with your shoe, and in turn recover your birthright to feel emotional comfort. These are the three vital steps to any form of emotional recovery from a place of fear or hell, back into a heavenly state of love – Uncover, Discover, Recover.

Do you emotionally dump?

However, if you’re not sure how to effectively deal with the fear-based feeling, you might instead choose one of the following options:

  1. Stop walking and emotionally immobilise yourself – give up on love and intimate relationships, perhaps resorting to only loving pets, children or money, because dealing with adult human hearts… well, it’s all too hard.
  1. Numb the area to distract yourself from the pain – use a weapon of mass distraction like drugs, alcohol, food, sex, money, busyness or other people’s drama – become a helpaholic!
  1. Pretend it’s not happening and lie to yourself and others about your discomfort. This is called denial and some people have been in the habit of moving into this emotional gear so quickly they are not even conscious they are in denial. They are absolutely unaware they are lying to themselves because they have been doing it for so long that it is just an emotional knee-jerk reaction. DENIAL = Didn’t Even (k)Now It’s A Lie! When in denial, we often don’t even know we are lying to ourselves.
  1. Blame someone else for your discomfort. You may even suggest going for a walk in the first place down this street that has sharp stones on it! You have ruined my life, I am too hurt, I’ll never get over this. You remain a victim.

Any one of these four options results in emotional dumping in one form or another, either internally in your world, or externally in someone else’s.

  1. If you stop walking, you just delay the inevitable flow of your life and dump on yourself for not being able to cope. We get stuck and often angry at others and create stress or anger at ourselves and create depression.
  1. If you resort to weapons of mass distraction, once again you dump on yourself by overloading your system with drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, debt, sugar or other people’s emotional waste. You remain in a state of unresolved discomfort and erode your self-respect.
  1. If you pretend it’s not happening by living a lie, you erode your self-respect and the respect of others by being fraudulent. Trusting becomes a major issue.
  1. Blaming someone else is just like dropping garbage in the middle of a rose garden. It’s blatant emotional irresponsibility and immaturity. This is what children do until taught otherwise. Sadly, it is the most common approach that many people use.

Making ourselves or others wrong because we are emotionally uncomfortable has such a dangerous knock-on effect. It is what starts wars on a personal, family, social, state, national and even international scale if no emotionally fit adults or elders are available to help uncover, discover and recover the situation.

What do my emotional toxins warn me about?

In a nutshell, when you are emotionally toxic, you are in a place of fear. It is often said that there are only two core emotive states of the human heart: Love and Fear. Every other emotion is an extension of that core state of being. This makes great sense to me and has been a very uncomplicated way to look at myself when I am imbalanced and to help others learn how to self-sooth and reboot their emotive state when they get stuck in a toxic place and are in danger of wrecking their whole day, their relationships, career, health or life because of it.

The following toxic emotive states result when we forget that we are lovable and worthy. The only way out of them is to detox the Fear to make space for Love. Fear has to be released so we can grow. Like all waste, we need to pass it out of our system, not store it, otherwise ‘dis-ease’ results. Fear brings pain so that we will release it. As a mother births a child, the pain forces her to release the baby. Without the pain, there is no trigger to release. So the lesson for us all in life is to learn how to do that without causing unnecessary harm to ourselves and others. To recycle it and make it useful is to gain understanding of ourselves. In the pain is fuel for growth. Pain is a healthy part of human life, but to get stuck in pain is unnecessary. I love that Buddhist saying that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”. We only suffer when we refuse to let go of the pain and grow.

So here are the most common places that most of us seem to find ourselves when fearful. These quick spot checks might be helpful if you find yourself stuck in one of these toxic places. However, if you are close to sainthood and don’t ever struggle with these issues, these quick tips may help you heighten your awareness and be useful and constructive when someone else is stuck in their own emotional manure. It is a rare and inspirational gift to be able to remain loving when another is in a full-blown and unattractive state of fear.

Anger

Anger is an inbuilt alarm system that goes on like a red light inside us all. Anger is activated when an act of injustice has occurred and causes loss in our life or the life of another. Whenever anger is present, so is loss. When anger arises, it is therefore often helpful to ask the question: “What does this person feel they have lost?” or “What do I feel I have lost?” It is usually a basic human birthright like love, respect, security or the triggered memory of a time when this has happened in the past and been traumatic and remained unresolved.

Jealousy

Jealousy is often called ‘the green-eyed monster’ and it is connected to fear around self-love. It is an alarm to help recognise that comparison has got out of hand. It is unhealthy for us to measure our heart’s worth as being inferior or superior to another. The feeling of jealousy indicates we are stuck in ego. We can break the word ‘ego’ down into Easing Grace, god, goodenoughness, Out. We become jealous of others when we are in ego, and easing grace, god or remembering we are good enough (whatever is most comfortable for you to apply here) out of our lives. It is a fear-based knee-jerk reaction. The most powerful way to release jealousy is to verbalise it with someone who loves your heart and tell them what you feel and why. It is like releasing a splinter and with your words your fear is tweezered out.

Hate

Being stuck in hate is an indicator that you are stuck in the state of a disempowered child. When people use the word hate, it is a sharp knife that cuts them every time they say it. A loving adult needs to be called upon to help put the knife down. Children often say they hate it when they feel they have no choice at all, because the parent has enforced bed-time, a grounding, vegetable eating, sharing with siblings or some other intolerable situation. We hate when we don’t take the time to consider the other person’s story and stance. In hearing it, we might not like or agree with it, but balanced adults can learn to agree to disagree without a tantrum and a verbally sharp knife.

Resentment

Resentment is a signal that we are stuck in a state of unresolved conflict. An easy way to describe resentment is that it is simply re-felt anger. Repeating or re-sending the unresolved situation over and over in our minds is like a snowball gathering momentum. It is often said that holding on to a resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. The only person that suffers is you! The best tip for halting this all-consuming state is to balance your view and cease focusing on the other person’s part in the drama and look at your role. Were you being the best version of you? Are you proud of your behaviour? You are angry, but why? What do you feel you have lost? And what can you do about it? Focus on solutions, not the problem. Letting go of them and their actions will help release your frustration. Shifting your focus to your needs and your loss, and how to comfort yourself constructively, is the way off this merry-go-round.

Gluttony

When greed or the urge to over-compensate leads to over-spending, irresponsible sexual lust or gorging on food, the question to be asked is: “What’s eating you?” Gluttony is an act of denial, of trying to cover up, pretend, gloss over, distract yourself from an emotion that is more than uncomfortable, it feels like too much to cope with. It is usually a strategy resorted to when we feel stuck and don’t know what to do or how to handle a big emotional hurdle. Often when there is sickness, death or intimate relationship endings with friends or lovers (abandonment is usually the core issue), this behaviour results. Once you have identified what it is you are trying to swallow or suppress without tasting, you acknowledge the next step is to ask for help because you are more than likely trying to cope alone with something that is too heavy and big for one heart to bear without support. We are tribal creatures, so you will need to call on emotional tribal support from peers, but more than likely an older and wiser elder would be most helpful. If you don’t have one on hand, a therapist is a good alternative.

How do I recycle my emotional waste?

When I am asked by clients, or when I am stuck myself, and need to remember the simplest route home from that Fear-based hell back into that gentle, heavenly heart space of Love, I resort to that tried-and-true recovery acronym that breaks the letters of the word ‘how’ into H for Honestly, O for Open-mindedly and W for Willingly.

When we are finally able to be Honest about our fears and Open-minded to options and change, then become Willing to surrender to love, rather than fighting it, then a miracle happens. Fear or the emotional manure in our lives becomes useful. It becomes fertiliser for the rose bushes of love that we can grow, bringing colour, love and beauty back into our hearts. This is the art of emotional recycling and it is the most challenging, yet rewarding, skill the heart can learn.

We love Cynthia Morton! For more information on her no-nonsense approach visit http://www.cynthiamorton.com/

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DON’T EAT AFTER 7 AND SIX OTHER WEIGHT MANAGEMENT MYTHS

Diets are filled with dogma about when, what and how much to eat. These ‘rules’ are usually based on observations that make sense, but unless you understand why you do certain things, you will break the rules as soon as the temptation is greater than your motivation. Let’s examine some of these myths, where they come from and how to make some long-term changes that will work for you.

Myth: Don’t Eat After 7pm

Your metabolism doesn’t shut off at 7:01pm, so why is this rule so common? It is based on the observation that a lot of people who struggle with their weight overeat in the evening. Most people have eaten dinner by 7pm, so they don’t snack because they’re hungry, they snack because of boredom, loneliness, television or other triggers.

Rather than creating a rule to address those habits, if you feel like eating in the evening, simply ask yourself, ‘Am I hungry?’. If you truly are, then eat, keeping in mind that your day is winding down, so you don’t need a big meal. If you don’t feel truly hungry, consider why you feel like eating and come up with a better way to address that feeling. Ken, a man in one of my workshops, realised he often ate out of boredom, so he started doing stained glass in the evening to entertain himself. Whatever works!

Myth: Eat Small Meals Every 3 Hours

This rule is based on the fact that many thin people tend to eat frequent small meals. However, most of the thin people I know don’t check their watch to tell them it’s time to eat, they eat when their body tells them to. They eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re satisfied. That tends to be a small meal. Then they eat when they get hungry again in a few hours.

Instead of watching the clock, start tuning in to the physical symptoms of hunger to tell you when to eat. And remember, your stomach is only about the size of your fist, so it only holds a handful of food comfortably. By learning to listen to your body’s signals, you are likely to follow a frequent small meal pattern naturally.

Myth: Don’t Let Yourself Get Hungry

This one is based on the belief that overweight people are incapable of controlling themselves when they are hungry. In my experience with hundreds of workshop participants, once overweight people learn to tell the difference between physical hunger and head hunger, the opposite is true.

Think about it. When you’re hungry, food tastes better and is more satisfying. My grandmother used to say, “Hunger is the best seasoning.” Besides, if you aren’t hungry when you start eating, what’s going to tell you to stop? Of course, you also need to learn to recognise hunger and make time to eat before you are over-hungry, since it’s much harder to make great choices when you’re starving!

Myth: Exercise More When You Cheat with Your Diet 

I hate this one because it has caused millions of people to equate physical activity with punishment for eating. As a result, many people either hate to exercise or use exercise to earn the right to eat.

While it’s true that your weight is determined by your overall ‘calories in versus calories out’, exercise is only part of the equation and has so many other important benefits. Instead of using exercise to pay penance, focus on how great you feel, how much more energy you have, how much better you sleep and how much healthier you are becoming. In the long run, you are more likely to do something because it feels good than because you are forced to.

Myth: Follow Your Diet 6 Days a Week and You Can Have a Cheat Day

This is absurd! What if you were a harsh, overly strict parent six days a week, then let your kids do whatever they wanted to on the seventh day? Imagine how this approach would work for your marriage or managing your employees.

It just doesn’t make sense to try to be perfect (whatever that is) for six days a week, then on the seventh day you overeat just because you’re allowed to and you end up feeling miserable all day. Personally, I would rather enjoy eating the foods I love every day mindfully and in moderation. I call this being ‘in charge’, instead of going back and forth between being in control and out of control.

Myth: Eat X Number of Calories (or X Number of Points) Every Day

Does it make sense that you need exactly the same amount of fuel every day? Aren’t there just days when you are hungrier than others, due to your activity levels or hormonal cycles?

Rather than setting yourself up to ‘cheat’ on those hungry days and forcing yourself to eat more food than you want on your less hungry days, allow yourself the flexibility to adjust your intake based on your actual needs, rather than an arbitrary number. Important: for this to work long-term, you also need to learn to tell the difference between physical hunger and head hunger.

Myth: Carbs are Bad (or Fat is Bad) 

This ‘good food – bad food’ thinking makes certain foods special. As a result, you may feel deprived and think about them even more than you did before. Worse yet, healthy foods become a four-letter word. The truth is that all foods fit into a healthy diet. Since different foods have various nutritional qualities and calorie content, you can use the principles of balance, variety and moderation to guide you, without trying to restrict an entire food group.

Truth: You Are in Charge!

I assume the rule-makers are well-intentioned and don’t realise they have created a tightrope that most people will fall off sooner or later. If your head has not already told you that all these rules are crazy, I’m sure your heart is saying there has to be a better way.

It’s time to give yourself a wider path on which you can stay forever. Allow yourself the flexibility to make any decision, as long as you consider the advantages and disadvantages of your choices and always keep self-care in mind.

About the Author

Michelle May, MD, is a recovered yoyo dieter and founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Program, which received the Excellence in Patient Education Innovation Award. She is the award-winning author of Am I Hungry?: What to Do When Diets Don’t Work. Her latest book is Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. To learn more about mindful eating, visit http://www.AmIHungry.com.

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Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

Last Day

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

So how much do we rock!  We have done it.  4 weeks following the Get Clean Get Lean Program – 4 weeks without sugar, coffee, wheat, dairy and alcohol (amongst other things).  I am really proud of myself!

And I have not only learnt some fantastic things about how to take care of and how to listen my physical body, but also some insights into my emotional wellbeing.

I have learnt that not all food is created equal.  Not all “good” food is good for you and not all “bad” foods are bad.  It is about good quality, unprocessed food.  It is about making food decisions based on what my body feels like when it is hungry.  It is about eating guilt free and really tasting the food I prepare. It is looking for organic and fresh options rather than the quick and cheap options.

I am still learning that feeling bad is not an excuse for eating bad.  That food is not the way to turn any thoughts of sadness, anxiety, anger, fear or guilt into feelings of love and compassion.  Only I can do that.

And it is had taught me about movement and breath.

But most of all – the past four weeks have taught me about “baby steps”.  The smallest goal is just as important as any giant, long term goal.  Just because there are no big changes straight away doesn’t mean that there aren’t any important changes occurring.

This is just the beginning for me – and although I can’t wait for a Hot Cross Bun and soy milk latte – I am not about to have some major junk food blow-out and ruin all my hard work.

I have made a promise to myself to take care of me for all the right reasons.  Because of what I want and not what other people want.   Because of what I think is best for me and not what others think is best for me.  At  37 years old, I am taking responsibility for my physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing…  And it feels GREAT!

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Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

DAY 27

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

I can’t believe we are nearly at the end of the program! I am even more impressed that I have nearly made it!

I started this program on a bit of a whim – I saw the Facebook page and joined up.  I thought to myself, “Well, if it gets too hard – I’ll give up…”.  Then I got the great idea to volunteer to blog about my experience and any chance of giving up went out the window!!  I knew that writing about how I was feeling and being honest about the not so good days as well as the great days would be a great motivator and keep me on track.

While the detox side of my life has sometimes been tough – the rest of my life has been worse.  The financial challenges that come from being unemployed are proving overwhelming and I am finding it harder and harder to stay positive about finding work.  I am not writing about this for any sympathy or otherwise, but to illustrate that even when all of this stress has been happening in my life – I have remained focused about my physical wellbeing.  This gives me hope.  As the “Get Clean Get Lean” program comes to an end I can use this experience to prove to myself that I can do anything.  And with a bit of luck, this will rub off on other areas in my life.

 

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Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

DAY 25

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

So my leg injury is actually a hip injury and a little more serious than I was willing to admit.  But on the positive side – the guys at the gym were really great in showing me the sort of movement that would be beneficial and lots of upper body work to keep me going until my hip is all sorted.

I am actually counting this is as a mini win for me – usually an injury would give me the perfect excuse not to go to the gym – but I went and worked hard doing the exercises I could.

If you follow the work of Louise Hay and especially her book, “You Can Heal Your Life”, she suggests that hip pain and injuries relate to, “a fear in moving forward in major decisions or having nothing to move forward to.”   This really resonates with me.  Having no clear idea as to my employment future, I can definitely feel the tension being held around my hips and legs.  So as well as the chiropractic sessions, massage and movement, I will be spending some time doing affirmations about moving forward that suggested in Louise’s book.

I love Louise Hay and her work.  She is one of my heroes.  Her books constantly inspire me.  I am also continually motivated by author and teacher Dr Wayne Dyer.  I am currently re-reading his book, “Excuses Begone!”.  This is another book that has helped me over the last three weeks as it looks at why and how we make excuses and how we can stop.  Whenever I felt tempted to go and grab something sugary, or the times I have wanted to just stop because it was getting too hard – I would go back and read a chapter of Dr. Dyer’s book.  I really recommend any books from either of these teachers.

And lastly, but certainly not least, I should mention, I have dropped a whole size in my jeans! (Insert Fanfare here!)  When I started the program, I decided not to weigh myself – I just didn’t want the extra pressure of looking at the numbers, just in case they didn’t change – but after a couple of weeks of having to constantly be pulling up my jeans, I decided to buy a new pair and was thrilled to find I had to go down a full size.  And that is pretty special!

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Get Clean Get Lean

Meg’s Blog

DAY 24

Meg Holland

Our resident Get Clean Blogger

A couple of days ago I hurt my leg at the gym.  One of those silly annoying injuries that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time but which has left me walking around like I am 80 years old!  It also means that I haven’t done any exercise for the last two days.  And I never thought I would be the type to say this, but I think I am missing it.  Not in a, “OMG I just am not myself unless I have run 10kms before breakfast” kind of way – more of a, “Mmm, I am not quite feeling myself – I wonder why that is” kind of way.

The exercise part of this program was always going to be the biggest challenge for me – even more than the coffee!  Apart from playing sport at school, I never really liked running.  It may be a poor excuse, but I just don’t think my body was made for running.  I have seen myself – and I look ridiculous.  I don’t have one of those ‘nice’, rhythmic running styles.  I have more of an awkward, this is not natural kind of style.  And I don’t really like sitting on a bike either.  I did try a couple of Spin classes, but I was so preoccupied with how uncomfortable I was (i.e. how much my bum hurt on the seat) I never really paid attention to what I was supposed to be doing.

I go to the gym because I know I should.  And even after nearly 4 weeks of spending 6 days a week there, I still have to make myself go.  And I am sort of stuck in this Catch 22…  I am sure one of the reasons I don’t like exercising as much as I should or could, is because I have never really found anything I like doing.  I walk on the treadmill with my iPod blaring and I watch the timer.  I don’t really like the group classes.  As much as I try not to, I spend half the class comparing myself to the rest of the group and then feel crappy.  But, I also understand that the more I do something, the better I will get and then it will become more enjoyable.  See what I mean?

There is no doubt that I have noticed the difference over the last couple of days but it has not been so much of a difference that I am now a converted gym junkie – however, I will be back there tomorrow, pounding along on the treadmill, lifting some weights because I know, deep down, that is best for me and my body.  And after all, that is what this program has been all about!


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