Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sweet weekend - Taking a leap...

This year I have made a lot of changes.
I am more dedicated than ever to eating a healthy, nutritious diet, I have cleaned out most of my bathroom and laundry cupboards, replacing my old, chemical-ridden products with clean, non-toxic ones, and I have become a runner (something which has possibly surprised me most of all!)

These positive, healthy changes in my life have led me to thinking a lot about my career and living a life that fulfills my passions.

I currently work in recruitment at a university in Melbourne. I have worked in education and marketing for a number of years now and when I look back at how I got into this field I feel as though I have just fallen into my career in a way. One job led onto another, and then another after that.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you would probably know just how passionate I am about nutrition, health and well being.
I love reading, watching and learning. The passion I have for these areas has been something that has acted as a burning fire in my belly. I love learning all I can. That desire is something I feel very strongly about.

So after much research, soul searching, and a little trepidation along the way, I have decided to take a leap. I am enrolling in a course to become a Naturopath.
I am excited, nervous and apprehensive all at the same time.

I am going to learn even more about how I can use holistic medicine to heal and nurture myself, my friends and family, and hopefully one day my very own patients.

Stayed tuned for what is sure to be more of what I am learning along this very new and exciting path in my life...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reading the signs

I'm not talking about the signs you pass in your car as you drive along the road, on your way to work each morning. I mean the kind the universe throws at you, in it's attempt to make you stop and think.

More often than not we totally miss most of them, caught up in busy lifestyles, running after kids, working long hours.
The thing is, when we are really in tune with ourselves and what's happening around us we can learn to read the signs and in turn change the path that we are on.

Sometimes signs can easily go unnoticed. Like a topic, or name of someone who's been mentioned in conversation with others on a number of occasions. Sometimes signs come at you like a speeding train, kicking the crap out of you because you simply didn't listen the first time.
Sarah Wilson talked about how she reads signs a while back. She says they come to her in threes. She mentions how the name of her meditation teacher came up in conversations with three different people and so she booked in to go see him. Best thing she'd done in a while. She knew her body was telling her she needed to go see him.

Signs don't have to come in threes. It may be that you've been thinking about how much you need to book in for a check-up at the dentist, and the very same day you overhear a work colleague on the phone making an appointment with their dentist.

Signs aren't always obvious.

When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis I didn't understand why I had gotten so sick. I was young. I thought I looked after myself.
It's only now, years later, that I realise just how wrong I was.
I had run myself into the ground. I was partying hard (I was 21 at the time), had gone through a terribly emotional break-up with my boyfriend at the time, and my diet left a lot to be desired.
I had totally ran myself into the ground.
Then I got sick. I was depressed, exhausted, overweight, and I didn't even realise what was going on. I wasn't in tune with my body.
Looking back, I know that this was why I got sick. There were probably 50 signs along the way that could've told me so!
If I had've looked after myself this may not have happened. If I had've taken the ongoing illnesses, weight gain and depression as a sign, it may have been a different story.
But it did. And I now look at it as a blessing in disguise.
I now eat well, exercise, and look after my body. I feel better now, at 30, than I did at 21!
With age, comes maturity, and with that comes a deeper understanding of reading the signs. Listening to what your body, or what the universe, is telling you.

Last week my husband was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. It had come on suddenly. A month earlier he seemed fine. He was running with me and eating a fairly balanced diet. Yet he had been run down, stressed and after a bout of gastro, followed by a cold, along came the joint pain.
He has always been prone to sickness. Around the age of 18 he had glandular fever. After that, he seemed to get one illness after another.
Now, I'm not saying that if he had've read the signs that he may not have gotten sick, we'll never know that. But auto-immune illnesses, including thyroid disease and various types of arthritis, can often come on when your body is under stress, when you've run yourself into the ground.

Right now, we are looking at ways to heal him and get him back to normal.
I think he realises that he now, more than ever, needs to look after his body, listen to it when it tells him he needs to sleep more, stress less and eat well.
I think it has also made me realise just how much we need to learn to read the signs and listen to our bodies.

Do you read the signs or do you keep cruising along, on autopilot, unaware of what's going on?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Product review - Love Y'Hair Natural Shampoo and Conditioner

Like many so called 'organic' or 'all natural' products out there, one thing I have noticed throughout my clean product hunting over the past few months has been just how much companies try to fool us.
And unfortunately many of all fall for their tricks.
One sure fire way to make sure you're actually buying something clean is to check out the ingredients.
If a product doesn't even have the ingredients listed on the back of their packaging that's a big no-no for me and I put it straight back on the shelf.
If the list is a lengthy one, with many difficult-to-pronounce ingredients on there, again I am a little hesitant with making a purchase.

When I came across Love Y'Hair Shampoo and Conditioner I was really impressed with their ingredient list:
- organic coconut oil
- coconut betaine
- glycerine
- coconut DEA (vegetable)
- BNPD preservative
- citric acid
- sodium chloride
- aloe vera extract
- perfume FD + C
- chamomile extract

- essential oils
- organic coconut oil
- cetearyl alcohol
- glycerine stearate
- chamomile extract
- citric acid
- aloe vera extract
- perfume FD + C
- essential oils

That's 11 ingredients in total in the shampoo, and only 8 in the conditioner. And I can actually pronounce all of them!
Usually I do try to avoid perfumes in things, especially seeing you don't actually know what they contain, and what effects they have on the body. But check out this list compared to the below one. These are the ingredients of one of the most popular shampoos on the market, possibly one that many of us have used in the past... let's hope no longer!

- Water
- Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Chloride
- Dimethicone
- Glycol Distearate
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Cocamide MEA
- Panthenol
- Panthenyl Ethyl Ether
- Lysine HCl
- Methyl Tyrosinate HCl
- Histidine
- Fragrance
- Polyquaternium 10
- Sodium Citrate
- Hydrogenated Polydecene
- Sodium Benzoate
- Disodium EDTA
- Trimethylolpropane
- Tricaprylate/Tricaprate
- Citric Acid
- Ammonium Xylenesulfonate
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone
- Methylisothiazolinone

Just a little different, no?

So now that we know the ingredients of Love Y'Hair are looking pretty damn clean compared to some others on the supermarket shelf, do they actually work well?

Well, I've been using them for a few months now and I have to say that while it took my hair a couple of weeks to adjust, I think my hair is in just as good, if not better condition as it was before going-clean.
The one major difference I guess I have seen is that it gets a little tangled and knotty (I have a lot of hair, and it's really long too) so I have to give it a good brush when I get out of the shower. The conditioner at first feels as though it's doing nothing, especially after you're used to the rich chemical-filled ones that make your hair feel like silk straight after putting it in. But given time, and patience with brushing, I'm pretty happy with the results.

One tip I will give you all of you out there wanting to change to a cleaner shampoo and conditioner is to give it time. You hair will need to adjust.
And another important thing is to remember it's not only what you put on your hair that will make a difference in it's condition, it's what you put in your body!
Make sure you eat lots of whole foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, water, and Omega-3 rich foods as this will really help.

Have you found a great clean shampoo and conditioner you'd like to recommend?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweet long weekend - 5 tips for beating the winter blues

Winter is here, and if you're living in Melbourne like me you'll be feeling the change in weather, this week especially. Freeeeezing temperatures, rain, hail, wind and more rain. It's enough to make you pack up and move up north!
Winter time brings colds, flu and a general down-in-the-dumps feeling for many of us. We hibernate. Many of us find mornings the hardest, getting out of bed when it's oh-do-warm curled up under the doona.
So how do we beat those winter blues?

1. Up the exercise 
I am loving my running, and running in the rain too. But this week's been a hard one. It's rained almost every day, and freezing temperatures, accompanied by a lovely steady downpour isn't exactly for me. I'm up early during the week for work and so late afternoons is my running time. My time to relax and unwind. But when the weather is horrid I struggle to get out there.
If you're fortunate enough to have a gym membership or an indoor pool nearby how about opting for something like that?
Yoga is a wonderful activity for those winter months too. And you can even try practising it at home if leaving the house is out of the question.
Exercise releases a hormone-like substance called endorphins.
Ever felt that rush of joy and positivity after an intense gym workout or run? Well, that's the endorphins working! The rush of endorphins can be so intense that they can actually mimic pain-killers!

2. Increase your fruit and veg intake 
Colder weather can make us crave comfort food.
It's easy to eat crap at this time of the year. I mean, chocolate makes us feel good... for a few minutes maybe. Then we experience a sugar crash and feel even more shit than before.
Instead of reaching for something sweet, or loaded with saturated fats, try to up your fruit and veg intake and see how that makes you feel.
Sure, salads might not sound too appealing to some at this time of the year, but how about making soups, or yummy winter stews? I love making veggie soup. Using a slow cooker if a good idea too, if you have one.
Just throw in all the left over veggies floating around in the bottom of your fridge, anything goes.
It saves wastage and helps you get in all the good vitamins and nutrients your body needs at this time of year.
My other favourite way to up my fruit and veg intake is to add in green smoothies for brekkie (more on these soon...) They're a quick and easy way to start your day off on a good note and they taste awesome!
Making sure you eat a balanced diet, filled with plenty of fruit and veg, throughout the colder months will help give you a boost of energy, make it (slightly) easier to get going in the morning when you're freezing your arse off, and help keep those colds and flu at bay. Not only that, but it will help avoid putting on those dreaded Winter-time kilos that we then have to work oh-so-hard to get rid of before Summer hits.

3. Drink more water
Sounds simple enough but it's true that many of us struggle with our water intake during the winter months. Water helps to flush out our system and keep us hydrated. Just because we don't necessarily sweat as much at this time of year doesn't mean we don't need to drink water.
Aiming for 2 litres a day is a good place to start. But really, drinking when you feel thirsty is a good place to start.
I ditched soft drink a few months back and so water (or the occasional glass of red) is my preferred drink. Try to have a glass or two with each meal and you'll have reached a couple of litres before you know it.
A great way to start the day is by adding some lemon into a nice big glass of hot water. This gets the body working and helps to keep you regular.

4. Get some sun (while you still can!)
Ok, so there may be fewer opportunities to soak up some sun at this time of the year, but when it does come out, get out there and enjoy!
Did you know that a large percentage of us are deficient in Vitamin D?
When our bodies have significantly low level of Vitamin D we tend to feel more tired and depressed. Not only can increasing our Vitamin D intake improved this, but it is also imperative for strengthening our bones and improving our immune system.

5. Make sure you get enough sleep
Hibernation in Winter often leads to sleep. And more sleep.
I mean, what else is there to do when it's so cold out there?!
Sleep is good! It helps our bodies rest and restore.
7-8 hours is a good amount to aim for. Any less and we run ourselves down and become more susceptible to colds and flu. Any more and we may actually feel more tired than before!
Try not to oversleep too much at this time of year. Maybe instead of sleeping half the day away, opt for snuggling up in bed with a warm cup of tea and a good book... Rest has no time limits!

Look after yourself  and your body will look after you in turn.

What are your tips for staying healthy and happy during winter?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Food Matters

I love watching docos. Especially those on health and nutrition.
Last weekend I watched 'Food Matters'.
I made my hubby sit and watch it with me too... although I think his slight lack of interest may have contributed to him dozing off on the couch next to me :)

For anyone who is interested in their health and what they're putting in their mouth (this list should include all of us!) I highly recommend you watch.
The film talks about the effect food has on our health and the correlation between poor nutrition and disease and illnesses.

I got my DVD on ebay but you could also try amazon or you may be able to stream some of the film on youtube.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Are you a mindful eater?

Are you a watching-the-TV-while-eating-dinner kinda person, or do you sit at the table with your loved ones, truly present in the moment, finding out about everyone's day and enjoying what you're putting in your mouth?

I have to admit I'm guilty here when it comes to 'mindless eating'.
I eat my lunch at my desk most days. And I eat dinner in front of the TV much of the time.

So what's the big deal you may ask? I mean, I love watching the TV while eating dinner. And I find I can get more done at work if I eat at my desk.

Well, when we multi-task while eating we're not truly present, in the moment. We don't think about what we're putting in our mouth and we often are too distracted to pay attention to the sensation of 'feeling full'. Thus leading to overeating and bloating. Hello, entire block of chocolate, or whole pack of chips totally devoured! Maybe next time try switching the box off and having something to eat while sitting at the dining table, or outside in the fresh air. See how it makes you feel, how you enjoy the food you're eating, and the amount you end up eating.

Not only can mindful eating help you keep those extra kilos at bay, but it has also been shown to help reduce stress, improve digestion and allow you to thoroughly enjoy each and every bite that goes in your mouth.
And you know what? It means that instead of sitting in a silent trance while watching your favourite TV show, you can connect with the family and be thankful for the day that has been.

Are you a mindful eater?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sweet weekend - DIY whipped shea butter

Part 2 of my DIY skin care products is a lovely rich whipped shea butter.

If you're like me and you suffer from really dry skin you'll know how important it is to moisturise after your shower. We concentrate so much on cleansing, toning, exfoliating and moisturing our face, but much of the time we skip looking after the rest of our body.

My top tips for keeping your skin smooth and moisturised is to body brush on a regular basis (at least 3 times a week), drink plenty of water, and moisturise after every shower.
Especially in Winter.
During Winter we tend to drink less water and have hotter showers. Put simply, this dehydrates our skin.

When I use moisturiser on my body I usually go for a rich body butter as I find these really do the trick for me.

Here's what I put into my DIY body butter:

250 grams unrefined shea butter (more on shea soon...)
1 tsp jojoba oil
1 tsp vitamin e oil 
10 or so drops of essential oil (I used orange and lavender but anything goes really)

1/ Put shea butter in heat-proof bowl and, using a saucepan underneath, use a double boiler method to gently melt the shea butter over a low heat.
2/ Once butter is melted, remove from heat and cool slightly.
3/ Add oils and using a hand mixer, whip the mixture for around 5-10 minutes.
4/ To help speed the cooling process and help the butter whip better, place the bowl into the freezer for 5 mins or so.
5/ Repeat the whipping and freezing process until mixture gets light and fluffy like whipped cream. You will notice that the mixture gets harder to mix and it starts clinging to the mixer.
6/ Add essential oils and mix through gently.
7/ Spoon into container.

The mixture is best to use within a month as there are no preservatives added in there. Store it in a cool, dry place, like your bathroom cupboard.

So what was the result?

Well, let's just say the first lot I made, a couple of months ago now, was a bit of a flop.
I didn't heat the shea butter totally and so I ended up with a grainy consistency that took forever and a day to rub in.
The second lot was better. But I still found it didn't really whip to a fluffy consistency.
Last week I made another lot and it worked great! I think I didn't beat it for long enough the second time.
Making sure I melted the shea butter until it was totally liquefied was a key factor in getting rid of the grainy bits in the shea butter.

My skin is feeling really smooth and moisturised, and, although initially there is a slightly greasy feeling on the skin as soon as it's applied, after an hour or so it absorbs totally into the skin.
As the ingredients are all natural it is non-comedogenic, meaning no-blocked pores!

Overall, a really great result. It works out pretty cheap too, much cheaper than many other body butters out there. And best of all it's squeaky clean on the chemical front!

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