With the imminent seasons festivities upon us, swiftly followed by January’s month long self-flagellation. That mad scramble at resolution setting and guilt riddled and inevitable failures at their accomplishment.  I would like to invite you, yes YOU, to make a stand against doing what everyone else does at this time of the year.  Aiming to be smarter, more considered and achieving greater long term outcomes from shifting your habits a little and planning your party season a little more mindfully.
What if there was another way of navigating this tried and tested annual routine?
What if you didn’t gain the average of 5-8kg in 2 weeks over the festive period?
What if you still enjoyed your favourite festive season treats and still ‘celebrated’?
Sound too good to be true, huh?
Its frustrating to hear, but it happens like clock-work every year ‘I really want to loose X kg…BUT’….You know something? This year could be different, by ACTUALLY meaning it and by committing to different actions that will literally change your life.
When we understand the inner workings of achieving our desires, we make them real and therefore relevant. I believe much of the success an individual achieves in their health journey comes down to understanding what is really going on from the inside out. Ignorance is not bliss in my book and if your health and body are important enough to you, to express even a limited desire to create change, then it is important enough for you to get very clear in understanding what REALLY goes on when you eat and drink, certain things and action certain behaviours.
Over Christmas and New Years I would guarantee that no other organ in your body gets more punished that your liver. In an average day, the Liver performs over 500 functions in regulating the body and maintaining health. Any health promotion or fat loss program that does not focus first on super-charging the liver’s function is missing a key aspect of seeing you achieve lasting results. It is vitally important to clean your liver up before you get into the nitty gritty of your heath program. Here is why:

Liver Functions

As we have mentioned the liver is responsible for a lot of regulation within the body, I won’t list them all, but some important ones to consider as you go into ‘party mode’ are:
  • All blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver.
  • When that blood reaches the liver, it processes it, converting nutrients and medications into more usable forms.
  • The liver contains about 13 percent of the body’s blood at any given time. As the blood passes through the liver, the organ balances the blood’s chemical composition and produces bile from the waste products.
  • Bile carries those waste products away from the liver, allowing it to continuously detoxify the blood.
  • It is your body’s main fat burning organ, regulating fat metabolism and carrying fat out of the body via bile.
  • The liver produces blood proteins necessary for plasma.
  • The liver produces cholesterol. An important role in the body, cholesterol is a precursor for essential hormones, testosterone and eastrogen. Cholesterol also supports cell structure and helps maintain healthy neurological function. Note: This is different than animal product derived cholesterol present in the diet.
  • The liver further detoxifies by removing bacteria from the blood stream. This is essential for healthy immune function. A healthy liver produces immune factors that fight disease.
  • It regulates blood clotting. Inefficient blood clotting can lead to bleeding disorders and anemia, while overabundant blood clotting can lead to an array of health and clotting disorders including embolism and deep vein thrombosis.
  • It detoxifies, removing harmful medications and toxic substances from your blood.
  • The liver stores iron, which it processes from hemoglobin.
  • It converts blood sugar (glucose) to glycogen (stored energy), and then back to glucose (active energy).
  • It regulates amino acids in the blood.
Because the world we live in is riddled with pollutants and toxins we simply cannot avoid, it is important that we play the health game for ourselves wisely.
  • Nourish yourself well. Eat good-quality food when you are hungry. Avoid overeating (more liver burden) and refined or heavily processed food.
  • Remember that high-fiber diets help keep the bowels, liver, and blood clean by facilitating elimination.
  • Stay Hydrated especially in air-conditioned or overheated spaces.
  • Minimize exposure to chemicals of all sorts—from food additives and cosmetics to caustic cleaning agents. Remember that the liver needs to break down every chemical entering the body either for use or excretion.
  • Don’t use recreational drugs and use alcohol sparingly. If you must indulge then make sure you give consideration to supporting the liver and system post party time.
  • Use key liver cleansing herbs to support the health and function of your liver. For my top list of supplements  CLICK HERE
  • Take time to breathe deeply, relax, meditate, or pray. Stress can aggravate liver congestion.
Your liver is incredibly capable. With a little planning and awareness you can minimise the impact of the environment and also your lifestyle to support rather than stress, this ‘hard working’ organ, out.

Your skin reflects your liver health

Your skin is the biggest organ of the body, it is also the biggest indicator of what is going on internally, that glowing skin that a healthy lifestyle produces is a very real and tangible thing. So what does your skin tell the world about your internal state? If your liver is not doing its highly involved job of breaking down toxins efficiently, they will be eliminated from your body by other means – in many cases they come out through your skin and the stress the liver is experiencing reflects in hormone imbalances which unfortunealty reflect in the skin also. When excessive toxins build up in the deeper layers of the skin this causes inflammation and can manifest as:
  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Premature aging and wrinkling of the skin
  • Brown liver spots which make you look older
  • Red itchy rashes anywhere in your body
  • Deep painful rashes which may lead to ulcers
  • Hives
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne rosacea on the face – this causes small red pimples which affect the cheeks, the chin and area around the nose.
Toxic overload creates an acidic internal environment and has been impli­cated in a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic fatigue, allergies, skin conditions, asthma, mental illness, hyper­tension, gastritis, kidney disease and obesity. Studies are beginning to reveal that toxic overload contributes to more serious conditions such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory/rheumatoid arthritis, and neuro­logical disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.” [http://www.primallyinspired.com]
Signs of a stressed liver:
  • fatigue
  • brain fog
  • headaches
  • chronic joint or muscle pain
  • digestion issues including gas, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain
  • insomnia
  • autoimmune diseases
  • hormonal imbalances like PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • acne or skin rashes
  • anxiety or depression
  • allergies
  • inflammation
  • chemical sensitivities
  • chronic bad breath – this can also be related to ketosis or the fat burning process, which has a metallic odour, increasing water intake can help with this.
  • weight gain

How do I fix a stressed liver, especially over the Festive Season?

The great news is that we can reduce and eliminate these unpleasant symptoms. By reducing our exposure to processed foods and chemicals, along with liver-supportive herbs (ask your Coach about these) and foods that support our body’s detox pathways, we can lower our total toxic load, making us feel better and experience more vibrant health and longevity.
This year aim to:
  • Plan the ‘blow out’ meals and keep them to a minimum.
  • Avoid 2nd, 3rd, 4th helpings of food. Listen to your body and if you are full don’t keep eating.
  • Aim to exercise between meals during the holiday season. This will help burn some of the excessive calories off and give you a little ‘wiggle-room’ for the yummies to come.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake, having a ratio of 1 water to 1 alcoholic beverage will help to limit the intake and hydrate you by supporting the liver and kidney function.
  • Avoid recreational drugs
  • Keep sugar intake to a minimum. Difficult yes at this time of the year, but be sparing with sauces, portions and ‘added’ sugars so you don’t completely blow out. Less is more, as they say.
  • When going to function after function pre Christmas, aim to eat before you go so that you don’t overeat the high fat and high calorie canapés that go around. You will be less likely to over indulge if you are not starving when you arrive.
  • Avoid beer and soft drink mixers. Aim for clean spirits and soda water or red wine. White wine and champers are sugar traps, avoid these at all costs.
  • When you get home make sure you take your supplements to support recovery, heal and repair and sleep (see the link above for the recommended supplement stacks).
Above all have fun this festive season, be safe and if you are going to go nuts n food and drink by choice, then enjoy it. Don’t go into a guilt riddled melt down afterwards, madly setting unrealistic goals for the new year, that are doomed to failure. Set you health path for the long term and systematically knock off mini, achievable goals each month or week if needs must. Make food your medicine and you will look, feel, think and be FABULOUS!

 

Ive recently moved to London from a comparatively sleepy Australian city. I say comparatively because Melbourne has approximately 4million people compared to London’s 8.7million, spread out over a greater area. Once you get over the initially overwhelming volume of bodies cramming themselves together, in what can only be described as an urban battle for space on trains, on the streets, in cafes, well,  basically everywhere. Its an ‘attack and defend’ experience in every aspect of existence. For me the yoga studio, gym and my apartment have brought the term ‘sanctuary’ into its own.

Living in London as a transplant, like any busy metropolis, requires some getting used to. The first few weeks I will freely admit I felt like i was swimming in people soup and it wasn’t pleasant. Now, 6 months in, I am still not a fan of the constant jostling about, but with a little stress inoculation to navigate the cavalcade of humans, their collective energy, insular focus, lets just say you tend to get on with it. Yes, I believe people get more self-enclosed the bigger and busier a city gets, more protective, more demanding, more arrogant and more fearful.

I find myself doing a very ’trainer-centric’ activity more and more. Perhaps because i have gone from driving my own car daily, to using the London tube system. I say ‘trainer-centric’, but this quirk relates to anyone that has studied movement and biomechanics. Indeed anyone that has an awareness of these aspects for their own training, body management or care. I learned very early on to analyse and problem solve peoples movement patterns/posture issues. Its a throw-back to being a dancer and a habit fostered through my personal training that comes in handy when idle and bored on a monotonous 30min train journey.

What have I discovered? Fear has a posture all its own. You can tell a lot about how a person lives, thinks and feels about themselves and their environment by looking at how they stand, sit and move. Body language experts have been telling us for years that you have seconds to make a great first impression. But are you aware of the signs and signals you are giving complete strangers every moving moment of your day?

Headspace

A study from the University of San Francisco has shed some light on how walking with a slouched, despondent body posture can lead to feelings of depression or decreased energy. Luckily, walking in a more upright position can reverse those feelings. Professor of Health Education Erik Peper found that altering body posture to a more upright position improves mood and energy levels. “We tend to think the brain and body relationship goes one way. In fact, the passages go both ways,” Peper said. “When you choose to put your body in a different mode, it’s harder to drop into depression.”

For anyone that exercises regularly, you will be acutely aware of how much better you feeling after moving. You have increased mental clarity, great sense of wellbeing and feel physiologically ‘charged up’ too. Movement and posture shifts can either change your mental state from negative to positive or visa versa. The key is being aware of it, which from my London Tube travel observations, most people are not.

Pain in the neck

More than 80% of neck and back problems are the result of tight, achy muscles caused by years of bad posture. Smartphone use has had a major negative impact on the number of neck related issues, particularly tight ‘scalene’s’ and that nasty neck tendon the ‘sternocleidomastoid’. When you have spent too much time hunched over your computer or smartphone, that sucker will be the source of your pain and boy do you know about it when you get it treated.

Stress

A study from Columbia University and Harvard University argues that stress is increased by bad posture. The study showed that people who adopted powerful postures, open shoulders, and straight spines had a 20% increase in testosterone levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol level. Those who slouched had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol. What do all of these changes in hormones mean? High stress and greater fat storage around the gut, so bad posture contributes to making you fat.

A hunched posture (cue the ‘smartphone addict stance’) directly impacts how we breath. Yogis and meditation practices have long extolled the virtues of deep belly breathing as a means to calm the nervous system, increase immune system function, lower blood pressure and regulate the hormones (lowering stress hormones and increasing serotonin, dopamine and endorphins which are positive mood regulators). The shallow breathing and carbon dioxide circulation that shallow breathing causes flips all those positives on their head, placing stress on the system and taxing the heart. The result is a vicious cycle where stress prompts shallow breathing and in turn creates more stress on the body.

Interestingly enough a lot has been reported recently about the increase in depression cases amongst teenagers correlating to smartphone use, is it the phone itself or the posture adopted in using the devices? Ponder, ponder!

Confidence

Poor posture can affect not only how confident you feel, but also how confident others see you. How often have you been in a new situation or meeting new people and you felt far from confident? Im sure we have all been there, what is the immediate response? Closing the body in and protecting your core (the vital organs). Here the old saying ‘fake it till you make it’ is so true and something that actors and dancers get taught very early on in stage craft. It does take awareness until it eventually habituates as your normal. Chin up, shoulders back, take a big deep breath and…GO!

So next time you are rushing to work on the tube, enjoying a brew at a cafe or even walking down the street, take a moment to reflect on those around you and their posture and movement patterns. How they walk; is it fast, even paced, or erratic tempered or perhaps more considered strides, do they stay their course and direction as others dodge them or are they constantly weaving out of others way? All these say so much about those around you and of course seeing these aspects in others brings greater awareness and understanding of our own internal states, external modalities and how we may be percieved.

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